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Operations & Maintenance

Get More Life Out

Of Heat Exchangers
Putting sleeves into the tubes of tubular exchangers can reduce erosion, enable
reactivation of tubes disabled by perforations or worn walls,
or bridge discrete points damaged by cracks
Stanley Yokell, MGT Inc.

eat exchanger sleeving, a
money-saving technology
generally associated with
the electric power industry,
is drawing increasing interest from
engineers in the chemical process in-
dustries (CPI), as well.
Sleeving consists of expanding thin
tubes (sleeves) into the tubes of a heat
exchanger. The expanding process
produces a residual, interfacial fit pres-
sure between the outside surface of the
sleeve and the inside surface of the
tube. The sleeves may be short, for in-
stance about 6 to 16 in., or may extend
for the full straight length of the tubes.
Typical sleeve thicknesses are 0.01 to
0.03 in., depending upon material of
construction and thickness of the orig-
inal tubes. In addition to the expansion
step, sometimes the inner end of the
sleeves is welded to the inside wall of
the tube. cause of known perforations in dis- Before applying sleeving to similar
In tubular heat transfer equipment crete, identifiable locations problems at CPI plants, it is useful to:
in power plants, sleeving has long been To restore tubes to service that had be aware of the sleeving methods and
used for one or more of these purposes: been plugged because their walls equipment available, be able to deter-
To reduce the prospect of inlet-end had become excessively thin mine how sleeves affect the heat trans-
tube erosion (short sleeves for this To bridge failures in discrete loca- fer performance of heat exchangers,
purpose are also called ferrules, and tions of tubes that are otherwise in- and be able to calculate the changes in
their use is called ferruling) tact; for example, if a tube has a cir- pressure drop through the tubes.
To restore tubes to service that had cular crack just beyond the inner
been plugged by plant personnel be- face of the tubesheet Utility-plant roots
Operations & Maintenance

It is understandable that sleeving lack of control of the sleeving process pressure, it is best determined exper-
first made its name at power plants, could bulge the tube between the baf- imentally using mock-ups.
where planned feedwater-heater and fles and supports, which made retub- The figure on p. 66 shows a cross-
steam surface-condenser life may be ing difficult. This method gave way sectional view of an expanding man-
as long as 40 years [1]. Power stations to roller expanding. drel, plus a photo of a sleeve and man-
defer replacing feedwater heaters as Roller expanding: For many years, drel before the sleeve is inserted in the
long as they can because it is costly the principal method of fastening tube end.
and time-consuming, and they seldom sleeves into tubes was roller expand-
replace steam surface condensers at ing, and it is still widely used. This The impact of plugging
all. Full-length sleeving in those con- method, also used for joining tubes to As noted above, sleeving is in many
densers is an alternative for power- tubesheets, employs a rotating, cases done in order to bring previously
plant management, as are the options power-driven, expanding mandrel de- plugged tubes back into service.
of continuous cleaning of the tubes, vice that operates via torque control. Therefore, as a preliminary to under-
cleaning during outages, replacement In roller expanding, the sleeving standing the effects of sleeving upon
of individual tubes, full retubing, and contractor must establish the ade- heat exchanger performance, it is
ferruling the inlet ends of the tubes. quacy of sleeve expansion by experi- helpful to recognize the effects upon
Admittedly, planned heat-ex- mentally correlating rolling torque heat exchanger performance that the
changer life in the process industries with sleeve-to-tube tightness. It is plugging step itself created when that
is seldom as long as ten years. So, not practical to instead use sleeve- earlier operation was carried out.
many heat exchanger installations wall percent reduction as the crite- Plugging some of the tubes in an ex-
are designed with ease of replacement rion for successful sleeving, as is changer reduces the cross-sectional
and/or onsite retubing in mind. common in tube rolling, because the tube flow area, and removes part of
Whereas it would not be economical sleeves are typically only about 0.010 the exchangers heat transfer surface.
for a power station to keep spare feed- to 0.030 in. thick, so the measure- The reduced flow area raises the fluid
water-heater bundles on hand, many ments needed for the sleeve-wall per- velocity, u, in all of the tubes that are
petroleum refineries and other CPI cent-reduction option would be unre- not plugged, by the ratio of original
plants keep spares in inventory; they liable [2]. total cross-sectional tube area to the
replace bundles in which the tubes Torque control of rolling equip- tube cross-sectional area that remains
have deteriorated with those spares, ment is less precise than the control in the tubes that were not plugged.
and then retube and store the original of hydraulic sleeving equipment, dis- The Reynolds number, NRe, for the
bundles. Furthermore, the life of the cussed below, and it varies over a tube-side flow increases linearly with
tubes in a CPI heat exchanger might wider range. The torque-control set- the flow velocity, because NRe equals
be so short that the user considers it ting may drift, requiring periodic ver- Dur/m, where D is tube diameter and
to be expendable if the cost of retubing ification of torque output. Further- r and m are fluid density and vis-
approaches the exchangers replace- more, not all of the torque output cosity, respectively. With a rising
ment cost. applies to expanding a sleeve the Reynolds number, both the frictional
Despite these facts, the engineers control device functions by sensing resistance and the film coefficient of
charged with minimizing mainte- the resistance to rotation, and that heat transfer for the inside of the tube
nance and replacement costs at CPI resistance varies with the roller con- increase. So, the greater flow velocity
plants are increasingly viewing sleev- dition, the lubrication, and chance in- that results when plant personnel
ing as an option for extending the trusion of foreign matter. Conse- plug some tubes in an exchanger
lives of exchangers with high rates of quently, rolling sleeves into tubes is causes a higher pressure loss and an
tube deterioration. Sleeving is also being replaced by hydraulic methods elevated inside film coefficient. How-
making its appearance in CPI heat that produce more-reproducible and ever, there is a net reduction in duty
transfer equipment to protect tube in- more-uniform results. (the heat-exchange capability of the
lets from erosion and, as with power Hydraulic expanding: In this op- exchanger) because the effect of re-
plants, to restore deteriorated and tion, hydraulically transmitted pres- moving surface outweighs the effect
plugged tubes to service. sure forces the sleeve into its tight fit. of increasing the inside film coeffi-
The hydraulic expanding pressure cient.
Three methods of sleeving can be controlled precisely: hydraulic
Ball expanding: The earliest equipment used in sleeving main- Calculating pluggings effects
method of expanding sleeves into tains the set expanding pressure Using commercial or privately devel-
place was to force through the sleeve within tolerances of 1.25 to 2.5% oped software programs for heat trans-
a lubricated steel ball slightly larger depending upon the yield strength of fer and pressure drop, one can predict
than the sleeves inside diameter. the sleeve. Therefore, there is very lit- the effect of plugging on heat transfer
However, this method had two disad- tle risk of over-expanding causing the and pressure drop. This requires ad-
vantages: contact between the out- tube to bulge between supports and justing the program inputs so that the
side of the sleeve and inside of the baffles. Although there are theoreti- programs will calculate the shell side
tube was seldom uniformly tight; and cal methods for optimizing expansion resistance to heat transfer and pres-
Parent tube
The diagram at left is
a cross-section of an
expanding mandrel,
whereas the photo
Sleeve shows the sleeve and
mandrel before the
Expansion mandrel sleeve is inserted into
the end of a tube

sure drop for the no-plugs condition at with which to calculate the pressure the sleeved and the not sleeved tubes.
the same time that it calculates the loss and film coefficient for the Turbulence where fluid exits the
tube side resistance and pressure drop changed conditions. sleeves into the tubes adds somewhat
for the plugged condition. Some famil- Calculate the heat transfer by to the pressure loss despite the sleeves
iarity with how the programs work, adding the reciprocal of the post-plug- having tapered exits. The pressure
and with how they can be manipulated ging tube-side film coefficient (re- drop calculations, discussed below, de-
to get the correct results, is necessary. ferred to the tube outside diameter) to pend upon the number of tube-side
When a computer program is not the fouling, metal-wall and shell-side passes, and on whether all of the inlet-
available, the engineer can make a resistances. Invert the sum to get its pass tubes were sleeved with short
reasonably good prediction of the ef- reciprocal, which is the new overall co- sleeves to protect against inlet flow
fect of plugging for simple single- efficient for the plugged condition, Up. erosion or, instead, various randomly
phase tube side flow if he or she knows Then, calculate the surface area, Ap, located, previously plugged tubes
the various resistances (in units of, for for the tubes that were not plugged. were sleeved with full-length sleeves
instance, [ft2][F][h]/Btu) to heat Then the post-plugging heat transfer to recover heat transfer surface.
transfer that were employed to esti- equals UpApLMTD. The rate of corrosion of tubes in
mate the overall coefficient of the ex- Finally, calculate the post-plugging process exchangers is usually temper-
changer U, when it was new. This pressure drop from the tube-side fric- ature-dependent; it is greater at the
prediction is simply a matter of first tion factors, for straight tubes and tube end that has the higher tube-
subtracting the as-new tube-side re- their return bends. metal temperature. If corrosion
sistances in the straight lengths of throughout the tube field at the inlet
tubing from the sum of the resistances The impact of sleeving end of the hot pass is uniformly dis-
for the exchanger, then adding in the As noted near the beginning of this ar- tributed, sleeves installed to recover
calculated post-plugging resistances, ticles, sleeving may be employed not tube surface from plugged tubes need
as detailed in the next few para- only to restore previously plugged be only as long as the unacceptably
graphs. The same procedure can be tubes but also to protect against ero- deteriorated tube lengths.
used for the pressure drops. sion at the inlet end of the heat ex-
To simplify the calculations, as- changer tubes. Sleeving all of the Calculating sleevings effects
sume the following: that the shell-side tubes in the inlet pass with short Tube flow velocity: For a single-pass
film resistance and tube-side and sleeves or ferrules to protect against exchanger, estimate the flow velocity
shell-side fouling resistances remain erosion increases the overall pressure after sleeving, us, by multiplying the
unchanged; that there will be no drop, because of the increased fric- design flow velocity, unew, (that is, the
changes in the properties of the fluids tional loss in the short lengths as well new-exchanger tube-side velocity) by
in the exchanger; and that the as the greater entrance head loss into the aforementioned xan/xas ratio. For
changed conditions will not affect the the sleeves (which have a smaller di- multipass exchangers, this us will be
log mean temperature difference ameter than the tubes) and enlarge- the velocity only in the sleeved pass;
(LMTD, or DTm). The results using ment head loss at the sleeve exits. the velocity in the other passes will be
these assumptions will not signifi- As for the sleeving of only some, unchanged.
cantly differ from those from more-rig- previously plugged, tubes with full- Pressure drop: The procedure for
orous calculations. length sleeves, this activity causes the calculation of pressure drop due to
Calculate the new tube-side flow ve- flow velocity in all of the tubes to be sleeving varies with the type of situa-
locity by multiplying the original de- higher than it is in a new exchanger, tion. Following are suggestions for
sign velocity by xan/xaup, where xan is but less than that of a unit with the several of them:
the total cross-sectional flow area of same number of plugged tubes. Single-pass exchangers with all tubes
the tubes before plugging and xaup is The cross-sectional area of an array sleeved with short sleeves: To estimate
the area for the tubes that remain un- of sleeved tubes is smaller than that of pressure drop when all of the tubes are
plugged. Using this calculated post- the tubes before sleeving. This re- sleeved, treat the exchanger as two ex-
plugging velocity, compute the new duces the total cross sectional area for changers in series with identical tube
Reynolds number. Use the frictional- flow in all the tubes. That reduced counts and tube-side fluid flows.
resistance curves in standard refer- area causes the flow velocity to in- The tubes in the first exchanger
ence works, such as References [3] crease by the ratio xan/xas, where xas are of the inside diameter and length
and [4], to estimate the resistance is the total cross-sectional flow area of of the sleeves. Using the calculated
Tube and Sleeve Resistance, Effective Recovery
Material Combination (h)(ft2)(F)/Btu of Surface, %
S.S. Type 304 tubes, S.S. Type 304 sleeves 0.011 89
Admiralty brass tubes, 90-10 Ni-Cu sleeves 0.0013 89
Admiralty brass tubes, SS 304 sleeves 0.0046 70
Monel tubes, Monel sleeves 0.0026 80 coefficient for the sleeved tubes, Us,
S.S. = stainless steel Readers should be aware that the listed contact resistances
add up that inside-film resistance, the
have not been established by extensive testing contact and metal resistance through
the wall, the resistance through the
new flow velocity, calculate the pres- resistance to heat transfer. outside (shell-side) film and the foul-
sure drop in the sleeved tubes, includ- In short, the tubes restored by ing resistance, and take the reciprocal
ing the inlet and exit losses. sleeving have less capacity to transfer of that sum. (In this summary, we as-
Then, calculate the pressure drop in heat because the additional resis- sume that the effects of sleeving upon
the tubes of the second exchanger tances reduce the overall coefficient of shell-side pressure drop and heat-
(consisting of the portions of the tubes heat transfer, U. Consequently, transfer film coefficient are modest,
that are not sleeved), omitting the whether the purpose of sleeving is to an assumption that is valid unless
first pass, and add to it the inlet, exit restore plugged tubes to service or to precise results are needed.)
and turnaround losses. prolong life of tubes with walls so thin Finally, to calculate the actual heat
To determine the total pressure that they would otherwise be removed transfer for a partially sleeved heat ex-
drop, add the calculated pressure from service by plugging, there is a re- changer, start by calculating the areas
drops in both assumed exchanger con- duction in the overall capability (duty) of the sleeved and not sleeved tubes, As
figurations of the exchanger. and Au respectively. Then, assuming
Single-pass exchangers with a ran- Based on examination of unpub- no change in the log mean tempera-
domly distributed number of long lished data from a sleeving contractor, ture difference due to sleeving, the
sleeves: When some of the tubes are contact resistances appear to be about total heat transferred, Q, will be the
sleeved with full-length sleeves, recal- as shown in the table, above. How- sum of the heat transferred in the
culate the Reynolds number and the ever, be aware that the resistance val- sleeved and in the not sleeved tubes as
tube-side frictional resistance with ues shown in the table have not been shown in the following equation:
the higher velocity to determine the established by extensive testing.
Q = (UuAu + UsAs)DTm
pressure drop Manual calculation of As for the added metal resistance
the increased pressure drop is due to the increased wall thickness, where Uu is the overall coefficient for
straightforward. However, if a com- the magnitude of this effect depends the not sleeved tubes.
puter program is being used, it may on whether or not the tube metal and Edited by Nicholas P. Chopey
require some tinkering. sleeve metal have the same thermal Author
Multipass tube-side exchangers with conductivity. If they do, the combined Stanley Yokell, P.E., is presi-
inlet-pass tubes sleeved with short fer- metal resistance in the restored tubes dent of MGT Inc. (4390 Caddo
Parkway, Boulder, CO 80303-
rules: Assume that the tube count is the equals rm[(tt + ts)/tt] , where rm is the 3607; Phone: 303 494 9608, Mo-
total number of tubes divided by the metal resistance of the tube alone, tt is bile 303 817 1721; Fax: 303 499
1849;, a
number of passes. Calculate the pres- the tube thickness and ts is the sleeve consulting engineering firm.
sure drop in the inlet pass as two sin- metal thickness. If, instead, the Previously, he was president of
PEMCO, a subsidiary of Eco-
gle-pass exchangers in series, one with sleeve-metal thermal conductivity is laire Heat Transfer and, before
that, founder and head of
tubes of the sleeved length and sleeve different from that of the tube, the Process Engineering and Ma-
inside diameter and the other with combined metal resistance equals (rm chine Co. He is author of A Working Guide to
Shell-and-Tube Heat Exchangers (McGraw-Hill,
tubes of the remaining length and di- + ts/ks), where ks is the thermal con- 1990), coauthor of Tubular Heat Exchanger In-
ameter, as summarized above. Add the ductivity of the sleeve. spection, Maintenance & Repair (McGraw-Hill,
1997), and author or coauthor of numerous journal
pressure drops calculated for the not To get the inside film coefficient of articles. He has presented over 100 offerings of a
sleeved passes and for the inlet pass. heat transfer for sleeved tubes, calcu- course, Shell-and-Tube Heat Exchangers Me-
chanical Aspects, in Canada, Denmark, the
Multipass tube-side exchangers with late it starting with a Reynolds num- Netherlands and the U.S., plus many offerings of
other courses on tubular exchangers and closed
inlet pass tubes sleeved with full length ber based on the post-sleeving velocity feedwater heaters. A Fellow of the American Soc. of
sleeves: Assume that the tube count is in the tubes. Note that this calculated Mechanical Engineers (ASME), he has been a
member of the Special Working Group on Heat
the total number of tubes divided by inside coefficient will be the same for Transfer Equipment of Subcommittee VIII of the
the number of passes. Calculate the the sleeved and not sleeved tubes. Its ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code Commit-
tee, and is a member of AIChE, the National Soc. of
pressure drop in the sleeved inlet pass reciprocal is the resistance through Professional Engineers and the American Soc. for
and add it to the pressure drop calcu- the inside film. Nondestructive Testing. He holds a B.Ch.E. from
New York University and has done graduate work
lated for the not sleeved passes. To obtain the overall heat transfer at Newark College of Engineering.
Heat transfer: Oxide films on the
sleeve exteriors and tube interiors in-
crease the overall resistance to heat References
1. Yokell, S., and Andreone, C.F., Feedwater 3. Kern, D.Q., Process Heat Transfer, Mc-
transfer. So do any regions of possibly Heaters Should Last Forty Years, paper pre- Graw-Hill, New York, 1950.
incomplete contact between sleeves sented at Joint Power Generation Conference, At- 4. Thermal and Hydraulic Design of Heat Ex-
lanta, Ga., October 1992, and published in Practi- changers, Book 3 of The Heat Exchanger
and tubes. The resistance of these cal Aspects of Heat Exchanger Components and Design Handbook, Hemisphere Publishing,
barriers between tube and sleeve is Materials, PWR, Vol. 19, pp. 97-107, 1992. Washington, New York and London, 1983
called contact resistance. The thick- 2. Yoekll, S., Appropriate Correlations for Assessing (kept up to date by supplements).
Tube-to-Tubesheet Joint Strength, J. of Pressure
ness of the sleeve metal also increases Vessel Technology, August 2004.

Reprinted from Chemical Engineering, January 2005. 2005 Access Intelligence LLC