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Pall Technologies Deliver Stable Operation of Amine Unit at Low Operating Costs

  As a consequence of foaming, the refinery was experiencing issues with the H2S spec in the treated gas, and carry-over of heavier hydrocarbons with the fuel gas. The refinery had to limit the amine unit capacity to 35 ton/h instead of 40 ton/h, a 12.5% reduction. This reduction directly limited fuel gas production, with the potential to restrict FCCU output at significant financial risk to the refinery.

 

A major Oil Company operates a refinery in continental Europe, which includes three amine trains: in the gas plant; in the HDS unit; and in the FCC unit.

 

From the initial plant design the amine unit in the FCCU was only equipped with a coarse filter on the lean side. The amine unit in the FCCU had been facing repeated foaming issues. The refinery identified that this was caused by a combination of the ingression of liquid hydrocarbons with the sour fuel gas and by the formation of fine particles of corrosion products in the amine loop.

As a consequence of foaming, the refinery was experiencing issues with the H2S spec in the treated gas, and carry-over of heavier hydrocarbons with the fuel gas. The refinery had to limit the amine unit capacity to 35 ton/h instead of 40 ton/h, a 12.5% reduction. This reduction directly limited fuel gas production, with the potential to restrict FCCU output at significant financial risk to the refinery.

 

 

   Until a clean-up or ‘depollution’ of the amine solution was undertaken in collaboration with Pall, in order to solve foaming issues by eliminating the solid and hydrocarbon contamination circulating in the amine.

 

Different types of filter technologies (bags, pre-coat, self-cleaning) had been trialed unsuccessfully by the refinery, until a clean-up or ‘depollution’ of the amine solution was undertaken in collaboration with Pall, in order to solve foaming issues by eliminating the solid and hydrocarbon contamination circulating in the amine. A mobile unit was connected on the rich amine loop, comprising a particulate filter to eliminate solid particles, a liquid/liquid coalescer to eliminate free & emulsified liquid hydrocarbons, and a carbon bed to eliminate the dissolved hydrocarbons.

 

The progress of the depollution and the cleanliness of the amine solution were monitored by the refinery’s laboratory with foam tests. The benchmark foam collapse time was 7 seconds for new amine solution, while the collapse time of the actual amine solution was 60 seconds. After the first 24 hours of depollution, the foam collapse time was reduced to 20 seconds; after 72 hours it was down to 9 seconds. As a result of the much cleaner amine solution, the refinery was able to return to operating this train at the design capacity of 40 ton/h. The depollution highlighted that the carbon bed located downstream of the coalescer did not bring further improvement to the foaming of the amine solution, meaning that the solid and hydrocarbon contaminants were successfully eliminated by the particulate filter and the coalescer. A few months later, the refinery decided to install a particulate filter in the rich amine to maintain low levels of solid contamination. Pall supplied an Ultipleat® High Flow filter, with 10 micron absolute-rated filter cartridges.

 

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