Overheating of Tubes in an Air Compressor Aftercooler
An aftercooler was of conventional design and fitted with brass tubes through which cooling-water circulated. Air at 100 psi pressure was passed over the outsides of the tubes, entering the vessel near to the upper tubeplate on one side and leaving it by a branch adjacent to the lower tubeplate on the opposite side. After a mishap, the paint had been burned off the upper half of the shell. Internally, most of the tubes were found to be twisted or bent. The casing of the pump used to circulate the cooling water was also found to be cracked after the mishap. All the evidence pointed to the probability that a fire had occurred within the vessel. Some months before the failure, one of the tubes situated towards the center of the nest developed a leak. Owing to the difficulty of inserting a replacement tube, the defective one was scaled by means of a length of screwed rod fitted with nuts and washers at each end. This assembly became loose, thereby allowing air under pressure to enter the waterside of the cooler and expel the water, leading to overheating and ultimately to the damage described.