As the operating time of heat exchangers progresses, fouling caused by water-borne deposits and the number of plugged tubes increase and thermal performance decreases. Both fouling and tube plugging are known to interfere with normal flow characteristics and to reduce thermal efficiencies of heat exchangers. The heat exchangers of Korean nuclear power plants have been analyzed in terms of heat transfer rate and overall heat transfer coefficient as a means of heat exchanger management. Except for fouling resulting from the operation of heat exchangers, all the tubes of heat exchangers have been replaced when the number of plugged tubes exceeded the plugging criteria based on design performance sheet. This paper describes a plugging margin evaluation method taking into account the fouling of shell-and-tube heat exchangers. The method can evaluate thermal performance, estimate future fouling variation, and consider current fouling level in the calculation of plugging margin. To identify the effectiveness of the developed method, fouling and plugging margin evaluations were performed at a component cooling heat exchanger in a Korean nuclear power plant.

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