RSBruce NITRIC ACID PLANT CLEANING Recovering Lost PGMs and Improving Efficiency

Why clean a Nitric Acid Plant?

A dirty plant is not efficient. It is expensive in terms of lower production, with high feedstock and energy costs. A very dirty plant can develop more serious operational problems such as gas streaming and weakened or damaged catalyst gauzes. This leads to reduced campaigns and lost production.

On the other hand, a clean plant is an efficient plant. With good thermal efficiency, the maximum amount of product can be produced using the minimum of feedstock and energy

Not all plant cleaning is equal, there is an important difference between Plant Washing and RSBruce Plant Cleaning

Traditional plant washing recommended by some Nitric Acid plant manufacturers involves periodically flushing the boiler section with a dilute solution of tri-sodium ortho-phosphate and sodium hydroxide. There are some distinct issues with this process.. 

  • The Alkaline nature of the solution means that the chemicals cannot be completely removed by washing the surface of heat exchanger tubes.
  • The chemical remaining on the tubes leaves a residue that expands as it dries. This voluminous coating has a high surface area which can quickly trap debris passing in the gas stream, which can lead to a short-lived improvement in heat transfer. 
  • Repeated washing deposits further layers, increasing the thickness of the voluminous coating. 

The solution is the plant cleaning method developed by RSBruce where benefits last for an extended period, and in excess of three campaigns. 

  • Tubes are left completely clean and stabilized against future oxidation for maximum operational efficiency. 
  • The RSBruce Plant Cleaning also gives a very high percentage of recovery of trapped PGM metals when compared to Plant Washing. 
  • The RSBruce Plant Cleaning Method has been independently tested by corrosion engineers and the cleaning solutions certified safe for Nitric Acid Plants. 

Tube internals prior to RSBruce Cleaning 


Tube internals after RSBruce Cleaning

RSBruce Non-Destructive Chemical Cleaning is the perfect solution for TUBE SIDE and SHELL SIDE cleaning of Nitric Acid plants to improve efficiency and recover PGM materials. 

  • Gives excellent PGM recovery.
  • The best cleaning process for the operational plant.

No cutting of tubes.  Minimum disturbance to plant.  


Internals before RSBruce cleaning


Internals after RSBruce cleaning

The basis of non – destructive cleaning is either to use a mild chemical solution that gently removes base metal and PGM oxides from within the plant for shell side cleaning or specialised jetting for tube side cleaning

  • The mild chemical solution used has no detrimental effect on the component surfaces.
  • After treatment, all treated surfaces are stabilised to prevent oxidation.

Non Aggressive Metal Recovery


Spray Nozzle Technology

High Pressure Jetting recovers 90% – 99% of the recoverable material.

High Pressure Jetting is a method we have developed using existing High Pressure technology with the addition of specially designed tools and jetting equipment for the cleaning of internal tube surfaces of boilers and heat exchangers.

  • High pressure jetting uses no chemicals making it extremely environmentally friendly.
  • Ideal for refractory/brick lined chambers.

High Pressure Jetting of Boiler Tubes


Jetting of External Surfaces


Dewatering and Filter Pressing of Liquors.

  • The PGM oxides become carried or suspended in water which are then filter pressed on site ensuring full recovery and eliminating any losses of the PGM oxides into the atmosphere as dry dust particles.

PGM Filter Cake from Pressed Washings


PGM Residue Ready for Final processing

So, whether it’s in situ operational cleaning or end of life destructive cleaning and metal recovery, RSBruce are the go to company, with more experience than anybody else in the industry.

Please contact us on +44 (0)1142 448050

We look forward to speaking with you soon. 

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