It’s graduation time and there are a whole lot of new chemical engineers fresh out of college, starting their very first career job in the refining industry. Full of head knowledge but not much else, they are thrown in front of a simulation and told to use it to debottleneck the distillation column in an effort to expand capacity. Gone are the days of McCabe Thiele diagrams and simple steady-state binary separations. You work for an olefins plant now; where nothing is easy, least of which is rigorously modeling its front end fractionator with detailed tray hydraulics and an accurate representation of the system volume, controls, and response.
Welcome to the world of dynamic simulation!
In a refinery or petrochemicals plant, dynamic simulation can be used to:
- Identify bottleneck and provide design recommendations for plant expansion or validate the flare system for expansion or identify ways to cut down flare
- Test drive the design of your compressor system to ensure safety of equipment and operations.
- Validate and tune the control strategy for steam, compressors, etc.
- Perform offline optimization
- Close heat and mass balances
- Integrate ethylene and polymer units
Produces Many Benefits…
There are numerous benefits to applying this technology, including:
- Safer design and operations
- Lower capital and operating costs
- Resolve difficult process design and operation questions
- Identify ways to improve utilization, product quality, and plant yield
- Make more informed design and operational decisions
- Optimized operations
- Ensure critical equipment is protected
And the return on investment is rapid: one to three months, depending on scope.
And Concrete, Tangible Results
In the (loosely-referenced) olefins debottlenecking project, the customer used dynamic simulation to expand capacity by 49% and reduce the flare load by 60%, leading to huge savings in capital costs. The design can then be used for a High Integrity Pressure Protection System (HIPPS) design which requires meeting safety constraints quickly without constraining the operating window.
Become an Expert…Download the Webinar
Dr. Dave outlined several ethylene applications and a number of benefits dynamic simulation has on designing, operating, and optimizing these processes in his Using Simulation Studies to Optimize Your Ethylene Plant webinar on June 6th. It is currently available for download.