Why Clean Your Charge Air Cooler

Keeping your Charge Air Cooler (or Ladeluftkühler) clean is vital to your diesel or gas fuelled engines performance.

There is a link to Vestas Charge air cooler cleaning here

Why is it important to clean a charge air cooler?

Historically, air coolers were designed with additional “surface margin” to counter the inevitable build-up of deposits on the airside of the heat exchangers, but modern economics mean that the air coolers designed more recently have very little spare capacity to deal with the downturn in performance associated with contamination. Additional surface area increases costs and there is less generous design parameters in these times of austerity.

Inevitably, carbon or sulphurous deposits will cling to the fins of the air cooler as time goes by. As the layers build up, efficiency is decreased and performance affected in terms of pressure loss and ultimately; fuel economy.

How often do they need to be cleaned?

The sort answer is, “as often as is operationally possible”.

Another truism is that; the dirtier a cooler is, the harder it is to clean. At new, the air cooler is obviously clean and every effort should be made to keep it that way. Even simple flushing with fresh water will assist if carried out from day one.

It is not always practical to clean daily. More often than not engineers will only find the time monthly or over even longer periods. The maker will have advice specific to the brand of cooler which should be followed. Cleanliness not only improves engine efficiency, but extends lifetime of the cooler too.

What is involved in the cleaning of a charge air cooler?

The possibilities are endless; ranging from effective to pointless and from beneficial to catastrophic. (It is easy to destroy and air cooler in 5 minutes if makers instructions are not followed).

The key considerations are:

·         If using a “mechanical” process (pressure jetting for example), are the fins going to become damaged or broken by the force of the washing process?

·         If employing a chemical cleaning process, will the chemicals destroy the fins?

The fins are at the heart of the coolers performance. They must not be damaged.

“Jet washing” is not ideal. There is too much risk of fin damage. If it is employed, then great care has to be taken. Lower pressure, but warmer water is a good compromise.

Chemical cleaning considerations are: (a) is the chemical compatible with the materials of construction. (b) Is the chemical clean? (heavily used cleaning tanks may add to the problem, not solve it). (c) How will you dispose of the used chemicals?

Agitation of cleaning fluids/foams, help. Either by having the fluid flow over the air cooler or by introducing movement in some other way (Ultrasonically or perhaps by “bubbling” with compressed air.

Follow the advice of the chemical manufacturer/supplier.

Do specific chemicals or tools need to be used?

For the Vestas system, yes. The system works with our bespoke foam.

There are various sources for other cleaning chemicals designed specifically for air cooler cleaning, often referred to as simply ACC. Contact your chemical supplier.

Remember, if you kept your cooler clean from day one, then fresh water should not be overlooked!

Is it something that I can do, or do I need to call in an expert?

Both. It largely depends on how bad the contamination already is and really can only be judged on a case by case basis.

Clean sooner rather than later to avoid cost.

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Contact

 websales@vestas-aircoil.comOE Requirements:  +45 97 34 18 00 (DK)Aftermarket:  +44 121 321 3248 (UK)