Crude Vacuum Tower Wash Bed Optimization

Posted by Margaret Bletsch

Jun 6, 2017 5:58:02 PM

The crude unit of today’s modern refinery is where it all starts.  Good, clean fractionation from the crude atmospheric and crude vacuum towers greatly impacts the operation of downstream units.

The wash bed in the Crude vacuum tower is one of those so-called evil necessities.  When it operates well, it does not seem to garner much attention but, when things go wrong challenges can occur.  The wash bed of the Crude vacuum tower is prone to coking/fouling due to the low liquid rates along with high vapour rates and high temperatures.  Generally, the wetting rate at the top of the wash bed is minimised to prevent high-value product loss, but lower wetting rates lead directly to coke formation in the bed.  The operating condition or the rate and severity of coking in the Crude vacuum tower wash bed is also one of the key variables determining the cycle time or run length between turnarounds.  So, the typical refiner works to balance the economics of product Heavy Vacuum Gas Oil (HVGO) recovery versus unscheduled or premature downtime to replace a coked bed. 

Marathon Petroleum Company LP’s (MPC) approach for operation of the vacuum tower wash bed is based on a novel approach.  MPC regards the packing in the wash bed as a consumable item.  The goal – fully consume the useful life of the packing by the end of the operating cycle to maximise operating profit, by maximising HVGO yield.  MPC uses Tracerco’s ThruVision™ technology to routinely monitor the wash bed density to help manage the wash bed useful life during the operating cycle.  The ThruVision™ technology provides a detailed density map at a specific vertical elevation that can pinpoint specific areas of liquid maldistribution or solids/liquid build-up. 

This case study shows the learning process over short operating cycles and an example of the operating stratagem to manage the operating life of the vacuum column wash bed over a multi-year operating cycle.

 CLICK HERE To download the full article that was published in the April 2017 issue of Hydrocarbon Engineering.

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Topics: Gamma Scanning, Tru-Grid Scan, ThruVision scan, gamma scan, liquid distribution, quantitative analysis pack beds, PackView Analysis, monitor wash bed coking, tomography scan

How to diagnose liquid maldistribution in packed beds: A case study - Part 2

Posted by Nicola Porter

Jun 8, 2016 11:35:29 AM

This post is the second part of the "Diagnosing liquid maldistribution inside packed beds" series.

In the previous blog, we explained how Tracerco’s Tru-Grid™ Scan technologies can be used to diagnose suspected maldistribution in packed beds. In Part 2, we will discuss how we obtain more details on distribution within the packed bed.

A challenge to process engineers is diagnosing liquid maldistribution problems inside packed beds that can cause severe mass transfer efficiency loss. In industrial distillation columns, common examples of the cause of liquid maldistribution are design, manufacture or installation defects of distributors as well as damage, plugging and process disturbance of packed beds.

In this latest blog we will explain how following a Tru-Grid Scan, Tracerco’s ThruVision technology was able to obtain a more detailed liquid distribution profile of the packed bed.

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Topics: optimising plant processing, plant processing, scanning technology, Process Diagnostics, distillation column, Distillation Column Performance, packed column performance, distillation tower scanning, annular liquid distribution, Liquid maldistribution, packed column, Suspected maldistribution, distillation column maintenance, ThruVision scan, Tracerco technologies, Suspected maldistribution in packed beds, ThruVision

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