Decarbonisation Technology - November 2022

temperatures. In some instances, the electric heater is used to supplement and increase the heat recovered from the exothermic reaction process. Additionally, electric heaters are used to continually regenerate the catalyst bed reactor or for intermittent regeneration of the catalyst bed depending on the type and technology used for the process. Where fossil fuel-based equipment is used within these processes, there is a good opportunity to replace them with an electric solution to further mitigate a facility’s carbon footprint. Electric steam generators Once the crude has been processed through the refinery, there is still an excess of byproducts that have value through additional processing in a petrochemical facility. For this reason, refineries and petrochemical facilities are often in close proximity or even located within the same plant to capitalise on the supply of feedstocks and reduce further transportation costs. One example where these lighter hydrocarbons would be further processed within a petrochemical facility would be reboiler columns or light hydrocarbon distillation units. These processes typically use shell and tube-type exchangers within a reboiler vessel. The heat energy supplied to these reboiler exchangers is either from fossil fuel-fired steam or heat transfer systems. Electric resistive heaters are an ideal zero- emission alternative for these applications

considering many of these processes are low pressure and low temperature. Electric steam generators and process heating systems using a newer and proven MV resistive element technology are successfully displacing fossil-based systems globally, allowing companies to achieve increased output at higher pressures which were previously only capable with fossil fuel-fired heaters. While direct replacement of combustion systems is often the first consideration, other options for electric heaters are to decentralise heat energy from low-efficiency, high emitter fossil fuel-fired applications and allow electric heaters to be used at point of use, either to supplement existing processes or to preheat processes to increase plant efficiency. For instance, many refiners and petrochemical companies are looking into alternate fuel supplies to fossil fired heaters, such as hydrogen. Due to electric resistive heaters’ versatility in design, they can be coupled with green or blue hydrogen in order to decrease CO₂ emissions while still upholding the same advantages. Another effort to reduce CO₂ emissions involves companies considering electric heating for utility heat energy, such as steam, to be used centrally or at point of use. As customers adopt newer emission- free technologies, they will need to arrive at new ways to capture as much heat energy as possible. This is mainly due to waste heat energy being prominent for fossil-fired heating. If fossil-



Operational ineciencies


Air permit cost Carbon cost – (EU-ETS)





$0.0 $0.8 $0.5 $0.3












Figure 2 The cost of waste from fossil fuel-based systems


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