Lufthansa Technik AG has put the first automated steam cleaning system for engine heat exchangers in the world into operation. The system is an in-house development that makes it possible to clean all heat exchangers found in common engine types without the use of chemical cleaning agents.

The method has already been classified as patentable by the German Patent Office. Not only is it far more efficient than the previous practice of cleaning heat exchangers manually; it also saves resources and protects the environment - in the true spirit of Green MRO.

Heat exchangers are located in different places in the engine. They ensure the temperature of the air flow through compressor stages, combustion chamber as well as high and low pressure turbines.

The new system can be adjusted specifically to every heat exchanger and its level of contamination. The cleaning process itself is fully automated. All heat exchangers can be completely cleaned in about an hour instead of the average 16 hours it took previously. Even the most persistent dirt can be removed effortlessly thanks to the system's high cleaning performance. And after being cleaned, the heat exchangers are as good as new and regain their original performance levels.

By linking this ultra-modern system to Lufthansa Technik's Digital Shop Floor, engineers are able to determine from their workstations when the cleaning process is complete and the heat exchanger is ready to be reinstalled in the engine. "This new system not only demonstrates Lufthansa Technik's innovative power; it also marks another milestone on the way to tomorrow's digitally networked engine maintenance," says Project Manager Anna Balka.