Insane Hydraulics

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How Frozen Water can Damage a Heat Exchanger

Check out this nicely blown-up tube stack from a Bowman oil cooler. Ninety percent of Portuguese hydraulic technicians wouldn't be able to name the correct cause of this damage pattern, while ninety percent of, say, Norwegian hydraulic techs would immediately know what had happened.

All due to the climate!

Here, in Portugal, we have above-zero temperatures all year round in most industrial areas, so we are not used to seeing water freeze due to cold weather. This cooler comes from a Portuguese raise-boring rig, operated by a Portuguese crew, which went to work in Finland during Winter. The rig worked very well inside the mine, where the temperature was not so low, but when it was taken outside for transport on one of those sub-thirty Finnish winter days - nobody from the "tropical crew" thought of draining the water from the heat exchangers! The tubes remained filled, and when the water froze and expanded - the brass pipes exploded from the inside out!

If you live and work in a warm climate, it is very unlikely that you witnessed such damage before - so grab this chance to see what happens to a shell and tube heat exchanger when water freezes inside it!