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World’s first heat exchanger flow optimising technology receives EU funding to reduce carbon emissions

12th April 2019

A consortium led by fouling removal specialist, Tube Tech International, has received Horizon 2020 SME Instruments funding to develop Flow Optimiser.

At the Shell Technology Centre, Amsterdam

This will deliver the first-ever optimised flow technology within Shell-and-Tube Heat Exchangers (STHEs).

STHEs are the most commonly used heat exchangers worldwide 1. Non-uniform flow of product fluid within the heat exchanger causes excessive accumulation of fouling, resulting in billions of dollars in lost revenue every year in refinery operations around the world and a negative, long-term impact on CO2 emissions, due to reduced production and increased energy consumption.

The Horizon 2020 2 SME Instrument is a public funding programme that funds market-creating innovation in disruptive small businesses that have significant growth potential and global ambitions. The SME Instrument is part of Horizon 2020 – the EU's 80 billion Euro funding programme for Research and Innovation.

As part of the programme’s goal to radically reduce carbon emissions and achieve climate resilience by the second half of the century, Tube Tech’s Flow Optimiser solution has been granted funding in recognition of the benefits it can bring to the oil, gas, power and chemical sectors.

Flow Optimiser is the world’s first method to combat the global issue of fouling at the source, creating optimal product fluid flow within STHEs to deliver a reduction in accumulation of fouling, reducing blockages disturbing the flow path and creating increased production, decreased fouling rates and energy consumption and, ultimately, a longer asset life on a global scale. During the project, the revolutionary Flow Optimiser technology will be tested and verified in multiple industrially relevant settings, to create real-world validation of the in-lab physical experiment results, which recorded an approximate average temperature improvement of seven degrees Celsius and an inflow velocity improvement of approximately 10%.

Henry Mwai, Project Manager for Tube Tech International, said, “It is a privilege to be part of the Horizon 2020 project, particularly given the competitiveness of the programme’s funding allocation, where less than five per cent of applications were successful3. We are grateful for the opportunity and support to develop and showcase Flow Optimiser and the revolutionary impact it can make to the critical global challenge of reducing fouling at source.”

To support its rapid growth, the team, which includes partners from Manoir Industries, Shell Global Solutions and Technische Universität Dresden has received additional funding from the EU Horizon 2020 SME Instrument, the Executive Agency for SMEs (EASME), that funds market-creating innovation in small businesses. According to Innovation Kitchen – Horizon 2020 SME Instrument impact report 2018 Edition 3, companies funded under the SME Instrument grow on average by 118% in terms of turnover and 158% in terms of employment within 20 months of receiving Horizon 2020 funding.

Henry continued, “The coaching and support we will have from the EASME will be invaluable in bringing our innovation to the market. We will be seeking advice on commercialisation, business development and operations to maximise our performance and further expand our business network.”