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Tag Archive: Refining

  1. 4 industries that can benefit from waste heat recovery systems

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    Food and beverage facilities
    Food and beverage facilities often have waste heat they can recover to reduce costs.

    In an age of fluctuating oil costs and increased demands for sustainable practices, waste heat recovery has proven to be a win-win situation for plants and processes in a wide range of industries.

    Waste heat recovery is the process of collecting heat that would have otherwise dissipated into the air inside or outside of a facility, and using it elsewhere in an area of the plant that requires heat generation. This can reduce operational expenses because it decreases the need to pay for heating.

    While virtually any large-scale facility can benefit from waste heat recovery, there are a few industries identified as the fastest-growing end-users of waste heat recovery systems. Here are four sectors where facility managers may find that installing waste heat recovery systems could cut costs and make their processes more efficient:

    “The cement industry is the fastest growing adopter of waste heat recovery systems.”

    1. Fuel refining

    Petroleum refining takes the top spot for industries using waste heat recovery systems. Producing fuel is incredibly energy-intensive, with processes like distillation, thermal cracking and treatment all requiring high temperatures.

    2. Cement production

    The cement industry is the fastest growing adopter of waste heat recovery systems, perhaps in part because of the highly energy-intensive process required to make clinker, the product of a chemical reaction that results in small rocks that are eventually ground into cement.

    Much of the heat lost during this process comes from the kiln, which is heated to 200 to 400 degrees Celsius and is where the chemical reaction takes place. According to a Waste Heat Recovery Technology Analysis drafted by the Department of Energy, systems to recover lost heat from these kilns are widely available but rarely utilized.

    3. Food and beverage

    The food and beverage industry also produces plenty of heat that can be recovered for use elsewhere throughout a facility. Gatorade’s Wytheville, Virginia, plant is one example that worked hard to become as sustainable an operation as possible – it was the first food and beverage site of its size to earn the LEED Gold distinction, according to Food Engineering.

    One of the many adaptations Gatorade made to the facility was its waste heat recovery system.

    “We heat and cool many things around here,” Arnie Wodtke, Gatorade’s director, noted to Food Engineering.

    The facility installed Enerquip shell and tube heat exchangers, which routed cold water – used to cool bottles after filling – to two boilers. Economizers attached to the boilers improved the rate at which that water is heated. When the water reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s sent back to the boiler.

    “It’s easy to measure the direct savings from an energy-efficient motor,” explained Rich Schutzenhofer, vice president of engineering, technology development and resource conservation at the Chicago headquarters of Pepsico’s Quaker/Tropicana/Gatorade group, according to Food Engineering.

    “People don’t take into consideration what a 1 percent increase in productivity means across the entire workforce,” he continued. “That’s real; it’s not bells and whistles.”

    4. Higher education

    It’s not just industrial facilities that can benefit from waste heat recovery systems. The University of Illinois-Chicago invested in a heat exchanger and other equipment of its own to reduce operational expenses by $8,000 annually.

    The system is expected to save 15,900 therms of natural gas and 3,100 kilowatt hours of electricity each year. A heat exchanger, combined with repairs to fix leaking pipes, will save the university 2.5 million gallons of water every year.

    “We’re saving energy and the environment at the same time,” Waleed D’Kidek, superintendent of utilities, told UIC Today.

    Have you determined areas of your process where usable heat is going to waste? Reach out to the knowledgeable engineers at Enerquip. We know how to evaluate your operation and determine the best shell and tube heat exchanger for your waste heat recovery needs.

  2. Enerquip Chemical Exchangers

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    The chemical industry relies on exchangers that will prevent cross-contamination and are safe and corrosion resistant. Learn why in the video. 

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  3. Tight crude oil can cause fouling in shell and tube heat exchangers

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    MicroMarket Monitor released a report stating that much of the shell and tube heat exchanger industry in North America is fuelled by the chemical and petrochemical industries. According to the report, 28.8 percent of the market share of heat exchangers in 2014 went to the chemical industry. Heat exchangers are often used for oil refining and the shell and tube variety are the most commonly used.

    The American Institute of Chemical Engineers explained only four countries are currently extracting crude oil from shale formations: Argentina, China, Canada and the U.S. Crude oil from shale formations is more difficult to retrieve and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the method by which it is extracted. The U.S. is the leading producer of this type of oil, commonly called tight oil.

    While customized shell and tube heat exchangers are great machines to use for processing, there are some things manufacturers and operators should be aware of. According to Emerson Process Management, the refining process is highly prone to fouling. Unexpected fouling is an especially harmful problem that is becoming more common among facilities refining light tight crude oil.

    “Crude oil fouling is one of the main causes of energy inefficiency in refineries.”

    Fouling can be harmful to a refinery because it causes lost production time, increased costs and, as a result, reduced profits. Unexpected fouling means operations need to cease production for cleaning. Plus, the fouling causes excess energy consumption and decreased throughput by the crude unit fired heater. According to a report from the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Imperial College London, crude oil fouling in pre-heat trains is one of the main causes of energy inefficiency in heat exchangers. Because of the strain it causes across multiple aspects of the refinery, the cost of crude oil fouling is high. Crude oil fouling was found to cost the U.S. approximately $1.2 billion a year.

    Asphaltene precipitation leads to accelerated fouling

    Different industries may see varying causes of fouling. In processing tight crude oil, fouling is commonly due to asphaltene precipitation buildup. This is primarily due to the blending of tight oil with other crude oil types. When tight oil alone goes into an exchanger, it tends to bottleneck in the naphtha processing and crude overhead units. This is because most refineries are designed to process oil of a specific composition, the AIChE explained. Blending them will reduce the risk of limiting the efficiency of processing units in the bottom of the barrel.

    While blending these types of oil is necessary to allow the machinery to operate correctly, this practice is also the one that contributes to asphaltene precipitation causing fouling. When incompatible crude types are blended, asphaltenes are not stable in the solution, resulting in the precipitate. AIChE noted that certain ratios of incompatible oils result in less precipitate than others. For instance, a blend of 20 percent tight oil with 80 percent of another type will create fewer asphaltenes than a 30-70 mixture.

    Tight oil also contains levels of naphtha that are higher than other types of crude oil, which can also contribute to the rapid production of asphaltene precipitation.

    Prevent fouling through monitoring

    To prevent fouling, manufacturers have inspected machines periodically and taken notes manually and recorded information in spreadsheets. While this has largely been effective in the past to respond appropriately to signs of fouling, increased production of tight crude oil, which fouls more quickly than most products, manual note-taking and periodic observation is no longer a practical form of prevention.

    “Traditional forms of fouling prevention are less effective with accelerated fouling.”

    Instead, Emerson Process Management suggested manufacturers use online capabilities to constantly monitor the state of exchangers’ performance. Wireless temperature and differential pressure measuring devices are one way to constantly monitor the performance and efficiency of a heat exchanger. By monitoring the health of the exchanger, refiners are able to carefully choose when to schedule a turnaround, rather than waiting until the fouling problem is no longer avoidable, leading to an unforeseen cleaning day. By being able to choose when to clean the tubes, refiners are able to calculate which day is best, so as to minimize the financial harm a day without production will cause.

    Not only will monitoring the condition of the equipment using online devices keep refiners current about potential fouling, but it can also aid in preparing maintenance staff of what is to come when it’s time for a turnaround. It can also help indicate if additional parts need to be purchased ahead of time. Some exchangers are equipped with a bypass, so cleaning can be done without losing a day of production. However, for those that don’t have this capability, as is often the case, advance knowledge of the kind of maintenance that should occur may reduce the time the turnaround takes and mitigate some unforeseen obstacles.

  4. Oil and gas industry to drive heat exchanger market in coming years

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    The oil and gas industry has been advancing the heat exchanger market in various capacities, according to several reports recently published.

    MarketsandMarkets explains that heat exchangers are an integral part of the petrochemical and oil and gas industry. The chemical industry is the most influential driver of heat exchanger business.

    Get cracking

    The global market for oil and gas equipment is expected to continue to grow to be worth $35.8 billion by the year 2022, according to Transparency Market Research.

    Oil and gas equipment can be categorized in two parts: rotating and static equipment. Rotating equipment is comprised of valves, pumps and turbines, while static equipment includes valves, furnaces, boilers and heat exchangers.

    “Cracking is the process of breaking the hydrocarbons into smaller pieces.”

    Heat exchangers play an important role in processing oil and gas. They are used in the refining process in cracking units as well as in the liquefaction of natural gas. Cracking is the process of breaking the hydrocarbons that compose crude oil into smaller pieces, according to Chemguide.

    Cracking takes place after the first round of distillation. Then, lubrication and heavy gas oils go through a cracking process. After cracking, a second round of distillation separates the pieces into groups. TechNavio says that heat exchangers come into play to separate oil from any water that is produced during the process.

    The BBC explains that cracking is a thermal decomposition reaction, which means heat is used to break apart the hydrocarbons. Once the hydrocarbons are in smaller, more applicable pieces, they can be used to make fuels and polymers.

    Still distilling

    A report by the American Chemical Society explains that heat exchangers are also used in the diabatic distillation process. This process occurs when heat is transferred through a reboiler as well as inside the distillation column.

    Part of the process involves pushing water through a series of trays to cool off the oil. Another portion circulates steam from the reboilers through a series of trays as well. Each tray has a heat exchanger. Introducing heat exchangers to the process has made it faster and more efficient, because they allow the reboiler to reach a higher temperature faster. Heat exchangers also help the condensers to cool faster.

    Heating up

    According to TechNavio, the oil and gas industry is also boosting the global waste heat recovery market. It is expected to grow 7.6 percent by 2019. Waste heat recovery is primarily done through the use of heat exchangers and other equipment such as turbines and industrial heating boilers.

    “Between 20 and 50 percent of industrial energy output is wasted.”

    A report from the World Economic Forum said up to half of industrial energy input is wasted. The way to utilize this wasted energy is through waste heat recovery. A U.S. Department of Industry report stated the converted heat can usually be used for generating electricity, heating and absorption cooling. Heat exchangers in this process are typically most useful for preheating air before it enters a furnace system. This takes some of the stress away from the furnace, allowing it to use less fuel and energy to heat the air itself.

    The World Economic Forum reported governments and industries around the world begin to make environmentally friendly changes, and many have focused on striking a balance between three concepts: energy security, energy affordability and environmental sustainability. Large industries, such as oil and gas, have especially been looking into ways to achieve an ideal energy triangle.

    According to the Department of Industry, low-temperature heat recovery, which is identified as being between 100 and 400 degrees, can use shell and tube heat exchangers to condense water vapor in the discharged gases.

    In a report, Research and Markets explains that government regulations on greenhouse gas emissions have inspired the use of heat exchangers and other heat recovery equipment. Reusing wasted heat not only cuts down on emissions, but also reduces the amount of fuel needed to run oil and gas facilities. The report predicts that continued regulations on how environmentally friendly facilities need to be will keep driving the need for heat exchangers.