Story by Scott Curtis on 12/12/2016MAYPORT NAVAL STATION, Fla., For the first time since being re-established in 2011, the Heat Exchanger Shop/Cooler Shop at Southeast Regional Maintenance Center (SERMC) used a readily available "off the shelf" industrial liquid descaler to clean a closed-loop heat exchanger on site.
The new capability at SERMC dramatically increases efficiency in air conditioners, refrigeration and heating units onboard ships operating in the 4th Fleet area of responsibility, and saves the government money by eliminating the need to hire a contractor to perform the same work.
"Contaminants from algae to hard mineral scales accumulate on heat exchanger tube surfaces which cause it to work harder and use more energy. Some large marine chillers can have several miles of tubing between the condenser and evaporator, so it makes sense to keep tubes inside as clean as possible," said Petty Officer 1st Class John Macdonald of SERMC's Heat Exchanger/Cooler Shop.
Until now ships in Mayport requiring routine cleaning of heat exchangers relied on the tedious and time consuming "rod and brush" method, or paid a contractor to complete the maintenance with the more efficient liquid descaler.
The rod and brush process is perhaps the oldest and least pleasant way to clean internal components. "First, the unit must be disassembled, and then a long nylon or wire brush is used to manually descale the tube. For straight tubes the brush works well, but in U-bend' units (like those frequently found onboard Navy ships) the brushes can't effectively clean the entire tube due to the elongated U' shape," said Otis Smith, the Engines Product Family Supervisor at SERMC.
"Now we can use the Navy supply system to acquire an off-the-shelf' descaler to dissolve the deposits inside heat exchangers. We can descale and clean the entire system at once, relatively quickly and without disassembly," said Smith.
Upon completion, the descaling solution is pH neutralized and properly disposed of by SERMC's Hazardous Waste Coordinator.
The ability to descale marine heat exchangers is a key component of the Navy Afloat Maintenance Training Strategy (NAMTS). To earn the Heat Exchanger Repair Technician Navy Enlisted Classification (NEC), Sailors here inspect, repair, and test heat exchangers and related components.
"The NAMTS program is a great way to learn new skills I can't necessarily get in the Fleet," said Seaman Marcell Rainey of SERMC's Heat Exchanger/Cooler shop. "I'm honored I was the first Sailor to perform this maintenance, and I'm a few steps closer to the 4229 NEC."
Sailors are given 12 months to complete their NEC, but most are able to finish within a few months, giving them time to receive training in another area to potentially gain additional valuable NECs. Currently, the 4229 NEC is available to Sailors in traditional source ratings Machinist's Mate and Gas Turbine Systems Technician Mechanical.
For more information about NAMTS visit: http://www.portal.navy.mil/crmc/namts (CAC required)
For more information about Southeast Regional Maintenance Center (SERMC), visit http://www.navsea.navy.mil/Home/RMC/SERMC/