The effect of engine operating conditions on exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) cooler fouling was studied using a 6.4 L V-8 common rail turbodiesel engine. An experimental setup, which included a custom-made shell and tube heat exchanger (EGR cooler) with six surrogate tubes, was designed to control flow variables independently. The engine was operated at 2150 rpm, 203 Nm and 1400 rpm, 81 Nm, representing medium and low load conditions, respectively, and the coolant to the heat exchanger was circulated at 85 °C and 40 °C. Heat exchanger effectiveness and pressure drop was monitored throughout the tests. Deposits from the EGR cooler were collected every 1.5 h for a total of 9 h, and their microstructure was analyzed using a scanning electron microscope while their chemical composition was analyzed using a pyrolysis GC-MS apparatus, and the elemental weight percentages were obtained using a CHN analyzer. The results of these analyses showed that the effectiveness of the EGR cooler drops rapidly initially and asymptotes in a few hours. The medium load condition had a higher effectiveness loss due to a greater accumulation of deposits inside the EGR cooler, mostly due to increased thermophoresis, and produced smaller and coarse particles. The low load condition had lower effectiveness loss but produced bigger particles mostly due to excess hydrocarbons. Coolant temperature played a significant role in altering the deposit microstructure and in increasing the amount of condensed hydrocarbons. More deposits were produced for the cold coolant condition, indicating that lower coolant temperature promotes greater hydrocarbon condensation and thermophoresis. These results indicate the complex nature of fouling in automotive heat exchangers.

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