Naphtha unit prolongs cycle length, increases feed rate (TIA)

The Komsomolsk Refinery in Russia has upgraded its naphtha hydrotreating unit with a solution from Topsoe, combining a two-phase gas scale catcher with grading catalyst and a high active naphtha hydrotreating catalyst (TK-527). This combination has allowed the refinery to operate the unit at a 20% higher feed rate and has kept the pressure drop stable. Currently, the unit has run for almost a year and is still in operation.

Kiki larsen
Haldor Topsoe

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Article Summary

For several cycles, the Komsomolsk Refinery had struggled with pressure drop issues in the naphtha hydrotreating unit. Due to particles in the feed stream, the upper catalyst layers had been plugged, resulting in pressure drop build-up. This forced Komsomolsk to perform unplanned shutdowns to carry out skimming operations.

Based on unit review and technical calculations, Topsoe presented Komsomolsk with a solution to overcome the pressure drop problems. By 2016, the solution package was successfully installed in Komsomolsk’s naphtha hydrotreater.

The gas phase scale catcher is designed with two stages to effectively trap both large and small particles. It is able to catch very fine particles in the micron range. The scale catcher has a kinetic particle separator which effectively removes particles present in the feed stream. The gas phase scale catcher is installed above the grading layer in the reactor and removes the majority of particles in the feed stream. The tailor-made grading catalyst captures any remaining particles, preventing them from entering the bulk catalyst bed and causing pressure drop problems. Topsoe’s high active naphtha hydrotreating catalyst, TK-527, has large pores and small physical size, resulting in high catalyst activity and, consequently, improvement in unit performance.

The installation of the gas phase scale catcher, grading, and bulk catalyst has enabled the Komsomolsk Refinery to run the naphtha unit without any shutdowns and without experiencing any increase in pressure drop. In comparison to earlier runs with competitor catalysts, this is a major achievement for the refinery as personnel were previously forced to perform skimming every 250-300 days (see Figure 1).

With the possibility of continuous unit operation, without shutdown periods for skimming, Topsoe’s package has provided a significant economic benefit to the Komsomolsk Refinery. This benefit is additionally enhanced by the capability to operate the unit at a 20% higher feed rate.

This short case study originally appeared in PTQ's Technology In Action feature - Q3 2017 issue.

For more information: kikl@topsoe.dk

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