Mitigation of marine biofouling on tubes of open rack vaporizers using electromagnetic fields

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

This study quantitatively evaluates the antifouling action of the continuous physical treatment with electromagnetic fields (EMFs) of seawater used as heat exchanger fluid in an open rack vaporizer (ORV) pilot plant to reduce the growth of biofouling on external rib-tube surfaces. The results demonstrate that the biofilm adhered on the treated rib-tubes was reduced by 33% in thickness and by 44% in dissolved solids regarding the biofilm adhered on the untreated control rib-tubes. The lower conductivity and Ca2+ and Mg2+ ionic content in the effluent of the treated seawater confirmed that the EMFs accelerated the process of ionic calcium nucleation and precipitation as calcium carbonate. The precipitation of ions dissolved affected the inter-molecular interactions among extracellular polymers, thereby weakening the biofouling film matrix and reducing its adhesion capacity. The drag of small particles by the flow of seawater had an erosive action and decreased the biofouling film thickness. Consequently, the antifouling methods treatment with EMFs allowed reduce the negative effect that the biofouling have for the heat transfer equipment used in the regasification process and keep the highest techno-economic operating conditions.

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