Expansion & Application of Vapor Infusion Technology Demonstrated under ESTCP

ESTCP demonstration and validation projects promote the transition of new and innovative technologies to a broad audience across multiple technical disciplines. These projects provide exposure for the technology and can function as a catalyst for application expansion. The demonstration of technologies for military applications can also lead to commercial applications that are of value to society.

An ESTCP project led by a team at the Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (NAVFAC EXWC) that validated the safety, effectiveness, mission readiness and cost savings of vapor infusion technology is one example where there are both military and commercial applications of a technology. Since the project’s completion in 2014, the team has continued to advance this technology, demonstrate its various applications, and gain wider technology adoption across multiple industries.

ESTCP Project: In-Situ Shipboard Heat Exchanger Cleaning and Maintenance Using Innovative i2 Bubble Infusion Technology

Iodine vapor infusion was developed in 2004 to reduce microbial counts in dental system water lines, which could potentially cause infections in patients during treatment. An ESTCP Technical Report provided an opportunity for employing this technology as an effective biofouling control within military base heat exchangers and associated geothermal water systems.

I2 Air Fluid Innovation, Inc., which was incorporated in 2008 to investigate and commercialize the vapor infusion technology for industrial application, worked with NAVFAC engineers to advance the technology. Successful laboratory and field demonstrations were performed leading to full-scale trial using heat exchangers onboard a retired warship (seen in Figure 1). The results indicated that the iodine vapor infusion technology offered anti-fouling capabilities along with environmental safety and health benefits. The published results of this demonstration became the catalyst for several other Navy and non-military projects.

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Figure 1. Ex Paul Foster Test Ship

Follow-on Efforts 

The ESTCP project demonstrated that iodine vapor infusion was an environmentally friendly method for preventing fouling organisms. In follow-on work, an iodine vapor infusion system was deployed on a test vessel with hull sections coated with two types of antifoulant coatings, as well as an inert epoxy barrier coating, to assess the effectiveness of iodine vapor infusion in conjunction with common marine coatings. The results of this study highlight the contribution of iodine vapor infusion as a standalone mechanism for fouling prevention or as a complement to traditional antifouling coatings.

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Figure 2. Left side - Hull comparison left side-control surface. Right side- Iodine vapor infused treated surface.

These results led to installation of the technology on offshore drill ships, aquaculture farms, and cruise ships. Since its installation in 2018, the vapor infusion system on a Norwegian Cruise Lines® ship has

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Figure 3. Aft engine cooler on the Norwegian Sun after 26 months of operation
(Used with permission of Norwegian Cruise Lines)

demonstrated its ability to prevent fouling on sea water cooled heat exchangers (Figure 3). Currently, studies are determining the effect of reducing sea water cooled heat exchanger fouling and the resulting reduction in cooling system pump power on fuel consumption and reduction of carbon dioxide. The results of these studies are intended to help ship owners reduce carbon intensity by at least 40%.

ESTCP research also led to new investigations of iodine vapor infusion for other purposes, most notably evaluating it as an innovative method of iodine delivery for water disinfection and antibiotic reduction. Researchers concluded that iodine vapor infusion could be useful for emergency water treatment and reducing microbiological contamination of hospital waste streams. Iodine vapor’s anti-microbial capabilities are now also being studied for air and surface disinfection. These impactful applications would not have been possible without the initial support of SERDP and ESTCP.

For anti-microbial information or copies of studies, please contact Michael Radicone at info@i2airfluidinnovation.com or 1-516-850-3727.

For heat exchanger and process equipment applications, please contact Heat Transfer Research, Inc. at vaporinfusion@htri.net, 1-979-690-5050 or visit https://www.htri.net/vapor-infusion for more information.

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