PTQ Q2 2023 Issue






C 4 alkylation block Three technologies One licensor



ALKEMAX™ Sulfuric Acid Alkylation

C 4 Isomerization

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5 Refinery of the future Rene Gonzalez

7 ptq&a 16 Refinery of the future: bankable, flexible, and sustainable Keith Couch Honeywell UOP 21 Co-processing alternative feedstocks through the FCC Oliver Dobson, Mike Watson, Wayne Armstrong, Marie Goret-Rana, Matthew Ryder and Paul Diddams Johnson Matthey 27 Mitigating FCC gas plant impacts when increasing reactor LPG yields Darrell Campbell, Tony Barletta and Scott Golden Process Consulting Services 41 Importance of effective and efficient data analysis and visualisation Philippa Hayward KBC (A Yokogawa Company) 47 Debottlenecking product recovery using product pair distillation: Part I David Kockler Dividing Wall Distillation and Separations Consulting 55 Kinetic model for TGU hydrogenation reactors: Part 2 Catalyst model validation Michael A Huffmaster Independent Consultant Prashanth Chandran, Nathan A Hatcher, Daryl R Jensen and Ralph H Weiland Optimized Gas Treating, Inc. 63 Unrevealed additional WASA additive performance at European refinery Rosen Dinkov, Ivo Andreev, Dicho Stratiev, Ilian Kolev and Miroslav Atanasov LUKOIL Neftohim Burgas AD Katarzyna Grabowska Brenntag Oil & Gas Research and Application Center

Cobbin Mackenzie Infineum Business and Technology Centre 69 Minimising unwanted coke formation in FCC operations Warren Letzsch Warren Letzsch Consulting PC 75 Digital platform for intelligent operation of fired heaters Grandhi Srivardhan, Rupam Mukherjee and Shilpa Singh Engineers India Limited 81 From thermal maldistribution to cycle length extension Ersev Dağ, Elif Kızlap and Enes Cındır Tüpraş Mbugua Gitau Shell Catalysts & Technologies 87 Profiting from the lubricants market Marcio Wagner da Silva Process Engineer 93 Energy saving with tube inserts for heat exchangers Nicolas Aubin Petroval 97 Anti-fouling additives to improve heavy oil processing Darius Remesat University of Calgary Edward Maharajh Energy Technical Resources Youssef Elgahawy Suncor Energy Justin Martin Western Research Institute 103 Technology in Action

Cover In many cases, the refinery of the future involves process facilities already seen in many plants today, but enhanced with AI/ML-based systems operating across the enterprise.

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Vol 28 No 3 Q2 (Apr, May, Jun) 2023 ptq PETROLEUM TECHNOLOGY QUARTERLY

Refinery of the future

I t could be safe to say that refinery operations will continue to focus primarily on fuels production, with margins capturing opportunities that typically involve co-processing hydrocarbon feedstocks with non-fossil-based feeds ranging from biofeedstocks to plastic waste-derived pyrolysis oils. That ‘narrative’ began appearing recently. However, if margins opportunities are there, along with the ability to resolve challenges created by a wider range of contaminants, ‘it’s all grist to the mill’ for upgrading low-value streams (such as LSFO), and future down- stream configurations will reflect sustainability-based strategies involving a wider range of products and intermediates. Speaking in this issue’s Q&A section, Nieves Álvarez, Senior Advisor in Oil Refining/Petrochemical Technology, MERYT Catalysts & Innovation, said, “In the future, it seems that the use of hydrocracking, RFCC, and coker could be advanta- geous if FCC CO 2 emissions can be captured and converted with biohydrogen or green hydrogen towards e-fuels, olefins, and aromatics.” She added, “As always, these alternatives will depend on the crude oil processed in the refinery, the prod - uct market, and, importantly, the capital investment it is willing to make.” According to Honeywell UOP in the Q&A, “Optimal unit configurations for reduc - ing or even eliminating low-value refinery streams like HSFO and LSFO are deter - mined on a case-by-case basis, as this mainly depends on existing assets/refinery configuration, feed sources, total investment, bankability, and price sets.” The com - pany adds that “several optimal configurations can be considered, all of which can be classified into two categories: hydrogen addition and carbon rejection-based configurations.” It clarifies that “Conventionally, carbon rejection configurations (SDA + (R)FCC or DCU + (R)FCC)) were typically deemed more economically via- ble in regions with high hydrogen prices and/or large gasoline markets.” Optimal configurations have always depended on global, regional, and local eco - nomics. Nevertheless, it is critical to consider optimum use of H 2 (avoid product giveaways) and integration of similar pressure level units. Considering the energy transition, which involves switching from fuels to maximum petrochemicals, decarbonisation, and the hydrogen economy, hydrogen addition configurations are typically becoming the preferred choice. Whether these configurations prevail going forward or extend the layers of carbon rejection systems, AI/ML-based technology will bridge efforts to imple - ment competitive strategies. In the Q&A, Mike Aylott, Chief Technology Officer at KBC, says, “Digital technologies are significant enablers of smart manufacturing throughout petrochemical enterprises, from plant floor to boardroom.” He explains that IIoT sensors, coupled with robotics, drone technology, and AI/ML, enable plant managers to change how rotating equipment is monitored and maintained. Now, operators are freed from daily inspection rounds because the sensors plus AI flag early warnings of trouble, allowing robotics to guide visual inspections. Aylott says, “Reliability improves with continual monitoring; combining pre - dictive AI algorithms with better data directs maintenance efforts to where it is needed, which leads to fewer unplanned shutdowns.” Some operational aspects, such as water treatment, taken for granted by refiners a generation ago, need to change when considering that water is becoming such a scarce resource. Again, digital solutions provide a real-time view of how each step change in water use reduction affects key performance indicators. Going forward, digital solutions will accompany almost all aspects of refinery operations.

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PTQ Q2 2023


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pt q&a

More answers to these questions can be found at

Q Considering market shifts favouring petrochemicals (for example, chemical-grade propylene), what are the optimal unit configurations and combinations, such as FCC/hydrocracking, for increasing high-margin products while reducing low-value streams, such as high sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) and low sulphur fuel oil (LSFO)? A Arun Arora,, Daniel Gillis,, Theo Maesen, tmae- , Chevron Lummus Global The optimum configuration depends on global, regional, and local economics. While finalising the optimal configuration, it is critical to consider optimum use of H2 (avoid product give - aways) and integration of similar pressure level units. The integration offers Capex and, more importantly, energy effi - ciency, which is critical going forward. The availability of online training simulators and other digital solutions (where licensor input can be integrated) is also key for large, integrated com - plexes to realise maximum value from the investment. A few selected optimum configurations are depicted below. The configuration for each refiner and objective is not limited to the following. The available technologies can be rearranged to meet the desired objectives. The key is to have experts in these technologies working together to offer optimum solutions and access to hundreds of propri - etary technologies:  For maximising chemicals as objectives – either as a standalone or ‘bolt-on’ project for an existing refinery (see Figure 1 )  For existing refineries with a large coker making ‘pet - coke’, the resid upgrader can help to upgrade coke to higher value green or anode coke (see Figure 2 )  Needle coke for graphite electrodes – adding a new coker to make needle coke can offer attractive returns, especially if the right feed such as FCC slurry oil and/or coal tar is available  LC-Fining with integrated HCR or HDT – a commercially proven configuration  LC-Max with integrated HDT or HCR for maximum conversion

More liquid products

Lower sulphur coke

LC-Fining or RDS


Figure 2 Maximising value from coker unit configurations

 RDS + FCC can be another configuration if the objective is to maximise very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO), but this configuration is crude slate dependent. There are alternate new schemes for the objective available if plot space is lim - ited and/or catalyst life is desired  Single Regenerator Dual Catalyst (SRDC). A Nieves Álvarez, Senior Advisor in Oil Refining/ Petrochemical Technology, MERYT Catalysts & Innovation, The optimal reduction of HSFO and LSFO streams goes through more units than simply hydrocracking and FCC. These include completing the conversion section with coker units and possibly recycling the streams from this unit back to hydrotreatment and FCC. Additional options include high-pressure hydrotreatment of heavy fractions (upgraders), such as HDH, Husky, and slurry beds, but they are also more expensive processes in terms of Opex and Capex. Several technology companies in the market offer other processes, such as deasphalting with solvents, solvent extraction, and solvent dewashing, if refineries can process the solids generated. In the future, it seems that the use of hydrocracking, residue fluid catalytic cracking (RFCC), and coker could be advantageous if FCC CO2 emissions can be captured and converted with biohydrogen, green hydrogen towards e-fuels, olefins, and aromatics. Of course, each of these alternatives will depend on the crude oil processed in the refinery, its product market and, most importantly, the capi - tal investment the refinery is willing to make.


Light oil




Middle oil


Tailored separation

Trickle ow reactors

Steam cracker



C +

Low-value streams

Liquid circulation reactors

Heavy oil

Pyrolysis fuel oil

Trickle ow reactor


Figure 1 Flexible configuration for maximising chemicals production


PTQ Q2 2023

A Charles Brandl, Senior Director, Customer Marketing, Honeywell UOP, Optimal unit configurations for reducing or even eliminating low-value refinery streams like HSFO and LSFO are deter - mined on a case-by-case basis, as this mainly depends on the existing assets/refinery configuration, feed sources, total investment, bankability, and price sets. That said, several optimal configurations can be considered, all of which can be classified into two categories: hydrogen addition and car - bon rejection-based configurations. Conventionally, carbon rejection configurations (SDA + (R)FCC or DCU + (R)FCC)) were typically deemed more economically viable in regions with high hydrogen prices and/or large gasoline markets. However, considering the, energy transition, which involves the switch from fuels to maximum petrochemi - cals, decarbonisation and the hydrogen economy, hydrogen addition configurations typically are the preferred choice. This does not mean carbon rejection schemes can no longer be the right solution. For example, when hydrotreating the FCC feed, adding UOP’s latest generation high-propylene FCC (referred to as Flexible Propylene FCC) in addition to extracting aromatics from the heavy naphtha, and reducing the FCC carbon footprint, a lot of the investment criteria in today’s environment can still be met. For hydrogen addition refinery configurations, several hydrogen addition schemes have been developed. The ones with the highest economic performance expressed as IRR and NPV are typically a combination of SDA or Uniflex (UOP’s slurry hydrocracking technology) + hydrocracking + integrated olefins suite (IOS) + steam cracker and Oleflex (UOP’s propane dehydrogenation [PDH] technology). UOP’s proprietary IOS is a collection of technologies to effi - ciently integrate and optimise performance of petrochemi - cal complexes in three ways:  Improve feed quality to steam crackers and catalytic reforming units to maximise the yield of high-value products  Process propane in a PDH unit instead of a steam cracker to significantly boost olefin yields  Increase, decrease, or eliminate most by-products to match the operator’s business strategies. Q Changes in feedstocks processed through hydrotreat- ing and hydrocracking reactors may sometimes lead to lower efficiency, such as thermal maldistribution prob - lems and reduced cycle length. Can you report any recent cases, such as distillate hydrotreaters challenged with meeting T95 diesel specifications, where conversion problems were resolved that can be duplicated with other hydrotreating units facing similar challenges? A Arun Arora,, Daniel Gillis,, Theo Maesen, tmae-, Chevron Lummus Global There are multiple units where hydrocrackers were designed for two years and are now achieving three years or higher in some instances, especially the second stage (of HCR). This has been made possible by novel catalysts regularly extending hydrotreating and cracking cycles, lowering the

start-of-run (SOR) temperature without changing the foul - ing rate. With some tailoring, catalyst innovations can be extended to other units. In addition to catalyst systems, CLG’s latest reactor internals and new ISOCatch inlet bas - kets can be helpful in extending life where a high axial tem - perature gradient is an issue. Other processing schemes have been employed, which not only enhanced catalyst life but also offered to produce high-value products such as premium LBO. A Fu-Ming Lee, Maw-Tien Lee, Mark Zih-Yao Shen, Chi-Yao Chen, and Yin-Hsien Chen, and Ricky Hsu, International Innotech, Inc., Cycle lengths of a hydrotreater or hydrocracker are limited by pressure drop of the fixed bed reactor and deactivation of the catalyst. Solid particles in the liquid streams to the reactor, which plug the catalyst bed and the pore opening of the catalyst active sites, are the main cause of ending the reactor operating cycle. Currently, solid particles are removed from liquid streams mainly by filtration. Conventional filter cartridges and/or fil - tering screens are normally used to remove only large solid particles (larger than 25-50 µ m) from process streams. To remove additional particles from the liquid stream and pro - vide a better fluid distribution, macropore solids are also packed into the top of the reactor. In recent years, reticu - lated top bed materials have been packed into the top of the reactor to improve solid particle removal and fluid dis - tribution into the catalyst bed. Depending upon the types of reticulated top bed materials, additional solid particles with sizes larger than 1.0 µ m are removed from the liquid stream before reaching the active catalyst bed.

Cycle lengths of a hydrotreater or hydrocracker are limited by pressure drop of the fixed bed reactor and deactivation of the catalyst

Conventional methods are designed to remove micron- size (10-6 µ m) solid particles only and are incapable of removing ultra-small nanometer (10-9 nm) particles from the process streams. For example, the reticulated top bed technology can only remove solid particles from 1 to 1,500 µ m in size. Unremoved ultra-small particles in the liquid stream tend to plug the pore opening of the catalyst active sites in the downstream reactor. A magnetically induced filter (Universal Filter), developed and commercialised by ShinChuang Technology, is capable of removing essentially all types of solid particles of any size (down to 7 nm or less) with substantially reduced costs and simpler operations. The impact of nanometer particle removal from liquid streams to the reactor is enormous since it protects (or minimises) catalyst active pore openings from plugging, thereby greatly prolonging the catalyst life.


PTQ Q2 2023

Heater coking is not inevitable

For many refiners, heater coking in Crude and Vacuum Distillation Units (CDU/VDUs) is a common occurrence. Many units around the world are shut down every two years, every year, or even every six months to deal with chronic heater coking. However, with the right design features driven by a solid understanding of heater coking mechanisms, fired heater run length can be extended beyond five years, even with relatively challenging crudes. e two primary drivers of heater tube coking in CDU/ VDU services are oil film temperature and residence time. Secondary factors such as crude coking tendency, solids content, and blend instability can further accelerate heater tube coking. So, which heater design parameters will maximize heater run length and avoid shutdowns for high heater tube metal temperature or high heater pass pressure drop? M ASS FLUX IS KING Mass flux (lb/s/ft 2 or kg/s/m 2 ) is found by dividing the mass flow through a heater tube by the tube’s cross- sectional area. High mass flux begets high velocity and suppresses coking in several important ways. First, high mass flux means that the fluid moves through the tube faster, minimizing residence time. Second, high velocity results in high heat transfer coefficient, which minimizes internal oil film temperature. Finally, high mass flux creates high wall shear inside the tube, minimizing build-up of solids or asphaltenes. Avoid Fired Heater Coking

H EAT FLUX CAN SURPRISE Heat flux (BTU/hr/ft 2 or kcal/hr/m 2 ) measures the amount of heat absorbed through a given outside surface area of a heater tube. High heat flux raises tube metal temperature and causes high oil film temperature inside the tube. Popular fired heater design programs use a well-stirred firebox model and calculate peak heat flux by applying a simple multiplier to the average heat flux. In reality, heater design parameters such as firebox height/width ratio, burner type, burner sizing, burner placement, and air/flue gas flow patterns can result in actual peak heat fluxes that are much higher than the “calculated” peak heat flux on the heater datasheet. Localized areas with very high heat flux will coke and suffer from high tube metal temperature. Of course there are many other variables that must be considered, such as pass arrangement, vertical or horizontal tubes, cylindrical or box or cabin, coil steam, etc. Problems stemming from blend instability are becoming more common as refiners are increasingly mixing light shale crudes with heavy crudes. As the crude begins to vaporize, asphaltenes can precipitate out of unstable mixtures and coat the heater tubes, forming coke and creating hot spots. Even with challenging crudes, refiners have achieved Crude Heater and Vacuum Heater run length goals through careful design and respect for the basics of coking. Contact Process Consulting Services, Inc. to learn more.

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A Charles Brandl, Senior Director, Customer Marketing, Honeywell UOP, Maintaining feedstock composition and quality is extremely critical in hydroprocessing units (whether hydrocracking or hydrotreating), and refiners try to operate their respec - tive unit close to its design conditions. If the feedstock gets heavier in terms of composition, distillation, or contami - nants, the unit’s operating severity needs to be increased to meet the target design conversion and product specifica - tions. This, in turn, may impact product selectivity, catalyst life, and/or unit performance. With careful catalyst selection and utilising new and improved process and equipment solutions, existing assets could be fully utilised to deliver overall unit objectives. We have seen one hydrocracking unit where a refiner wanted to increase the unit capacity and process higher end- point feed than design. Due to increased feed rate and higher severity, radial spread in one of the beds was >25-40°C and was also seen in subsequent cycles due to catalyst volume, which was not effectively utilised. As a result, the refiner had replaced the previous generation internals with UOP’s latest generation reactor internals, and in close collaboration with UOP during start-up the refiner lowered the radial spread to ≤4°C. Lower radial spread resulted in meeting design con - version at lower WABT, which was pivotal for the refiner and provided additional operational flexibility to achieve higher distillate yields until the end-of-run conditions. Q Regional shifts in higher refinery capacity seem to cor - respond with the need for more intensive water treatment programmes involving wastewater recycle processes while protecting heat exchangers and linked assets from fouling and corrosion. At what level of investment have you seen refinery operators commit to plant water quality while reducing its consumption? A Andrea Laudonia, EMEA Regional Marketing Manager Industrial Solutions, Solenis, Water scarcity is recognised as a top global risk to refiner - ies. The goal of using water as efficiently as possible, espe - cially in water-constrained regions of the world, is now an important part of most refinery operators’ environmental sustainability plans, with programmes being implemented to reduce water consumption even as refining capacity increases. Concurrently, refineries in many regions also are affected by a decrease in water quality that requires more intensive treatment chemistry and automation and digital programmes to ensure programme performance. Refinery operators recognise the need for more inten - sive water treatment programmes and are committed to improving plant water quality while reducing water con - sumption. Refinery operators typically develop water con - servation goals because of their current and future water scarcity and quality risks. Efficient plans to achieve these goals can be created by taking specific steps to identify and evaluate water conservation options: reduce, reuse, and recycle water. The first step is to reduce water use, which is accomplished through process improvements and

This dual filtration system achieves nearly a total preven - tion of solid particles in the liquid stream from entering the reactor. Furthermore, the need for spendable macropore fil - tration packings in the reactor and filter cartridges in front of the reactor are substantially eliminated (or minimised) to save the cost of materials and operations, which include loading/unloading and disposal of the spendable packing materials. The following commercial examples demonstrate the effectiveness of the Universal Filter in extending the cycle length of hydrotreaters:  Treating light coal tar feed stream to HDS reactor • Capacity: 52,000 MT/y light coal tar (92% benzene and 5% toluene) • Total solid particle removal: 97.6% • Nm size solid particle removal: 100% (6.6-29.5 nm) • Types of solid particle removal (in addition to carbon residue): Fe, S, Mn, Mo, Cu (100%); Al, Cr (90%); Ni, Cl (60-70%) After 45 days’ continuous operation, the filter required no backwashing or regeneration, and the HDS reactor expe - rienced no significant increment pressure drop or activity reduction.  Treating dirty kerosene feed stream to HDS reactor • Capacity: 30,000 b/d dirty (low-quality) kerosene stream fed to HDS reactor • With a conventional basket filter followed by a cartridge filter, the unit was run with only one-fifth of its design capacity for fresh (dirty) feed with four-fifths of a clean recycle stream to minimise plugging problems and pres - sure drop in the reactor • With the Universal Filter followed by a cartridge filter, full design capacity was achieved with a 0% recycle stream, generating US$7MM monthly operating profit (or annual profit of more than US$80MM) • The Universal Filter also keeps conventional filter car - tridges cleaner, reducing cartridge replacement from every few days to every few months, with annual cartridge cost savings of approximately US$225,000.  Treating straight-run naphtha to HDS unit for CCR reformer • Capacity: 30,000 b/d straight-run naphtha to HDS reactor for a CCR reformer • After the Universal Filter was installed in the feed stream to the HDS reactor, reactor run time increased from 3-6 months to two years for uninterrupted continuous operation. The HDS reactor turnaround has reduced from four (every six months) to one (every two years) in two years, and the total annual cost savings for the CCR reformer were estimated to be US$4,290,000 using the Universal Filter. (Each HDS reactor turnaround took 10 days, causing a US$2,860,000 loss in CCR production.) The Universal Filter technology can be successfully imple - mented in other hydrotreating/hydrocracking cases for extending cycle length. The only requirement is the solids in the liquid stream contain certain amounts of ferromagnetic substances, such as FeO, FeS, Fe2O3, Ni, NiO, Co, and CoO. In fact, solid particles in the liquid stream to hydrotreaters or hydrocrackers do meet this requirement.


PTQ Q2 2023


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improved operation of existing equipment. The second step is to reuse water reclaimed as make-up without any change to its quality. The third step is to recycle reclaimed water as make-up after quality improvement. With each step, the financial investment, the level of complexity, and the use of water treatment resources increase. As water scarcity contin- ues to increase and water quality continues to decrease, more refineries are evaluating recycle projects to meet their water conservation and performance goals. Used water or wastewater has a different quality than fresh water in terms of total solid content, total organic carbon concentra- tion, concentration of salts and metals, and microbiological species. Poor water quality can reduce functionality or cause severe damage, such as reduced heat transfer by biofilm or inorganic scale in the heat exchanger or microbiologi- cally induced corrosion. Innovative, high-performance and flexible chemistries, together with advanced performance- based monitoring and control tools, are becoming essential for water treatment companies partnering with refineries to meet their water conservation goals, especially when recy- cling water. A comprehensive wastewater treatment pro- gramme can minimise the size of investment in a recycling project that ensures good feedwater quality. Q To what extent do you see the deployment of digital approaches to maintain and operate facilities while lever- aging artificial intelligence (AI) in the restructured opera - tions of the petrochemical industry? A Mike Aylott, Chief Technology Officer, Rick Lucas, Principal Consultant, Geannie Gardner, Global Digital & Asset Transformation Solution Leader, KBC, geannie. Digital technologies are significant enablers of smart manu - facturing throughout petrochemical enterprises, from plant floor to boardroom. Consider some examples: • Looking from the bottom up IIoT sensors, coupled with robotics, drone technology, and AI/ML, enable plant man- agers to change how rotating equipment is monitored and maintained. Now, operators are freed from daily inspection rounds because the sensors plus AI flag early warnings of trouble, allowing robotics to guide visual inspections. Reliability improves with continual monitoring. Combining predictive AI algorithms with better data directs mainte- nance efforts to where it is needed, which leads to fewer unplanned shutdowns. • Operator roles change Additional sensor information and AI guidance are accessible via dashboards and 3D visualisations, readily available simulations (first principles, ML-based or hybrid), plant knowledge bases, and so on. This data provides rich insight into plant performance. Therefore, operators work with true digital twins of their plant, and their role evolves to monitoring, reviewing, and approving the outputs of the various AI/ML applications. • More flexibility to operations scheduling AI-driven algo- rithms married to new analytic techniques can be applied in

plant control systems, allowing for faster switches between product grades. • Looking top-down Digitalisation gives organisations consolidated access to information, cutting through tradi- tional silos. This, in turn, allows more automated workflows and hence increased business agility. For example, common scenarios around supply and demand opportunities can be examined by AI-enabled workflows, with planners and schedulers reviewing recommendations rather than run- ning the analyses themselves. Accepted recommendations can be implemented automatically from the ERP system to plant floor, increasing responsiveness. • Travelling the industrial autonomy journey The oppor- tunity to be fully achieved involves digitising the human experience and knowledge, then coding this data to analyse key decisions, assess the effectiveness of human machine interfaces, and capture key learnings. Manufacturers that embrace these rapidly developing digital technologies and techniques, including AI/ML, are likely to survive and thrive in this volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) world. As a result, they should be able to operate more nimbly, with more empowered workforces and report greater returns on capital. A Andrew Ledlie, Global Director Digitalization Strategies, Solenis, Refineries within the petrochemicals industry are increas - ingly employing digital technologies, including AI, that sup- port their water treatment management efforts to achieve stricter sustainability targets for reducing water use and improving energy efficiency. This trend, because of the use - fulness of these technologies, is likely to continue. The latest digital approaches to water treatment in refin - eries leverage three key areas: instrumentation, remote monitoring, and predictive analytics using AI. AI is becoming a key tool for predicting at an early stage the scaling, cor- rosion, and fouling tendency within cooling water systems. In terms of instrumentation, many innovative devices, including sensors, analysers, and controllers, have been developed in recent years. For example, Solenis developed a patented analyser that employs ultrasound to measure accurately fouling and deposition in situ. Consequently, when the analyser is used to measure fouling in heat exchangers, the heat exchangers do not need to be opened as frequently for inspection because the ultrasound device gives a real-time in situ picture of any fouling. Remote monitoring is a powerful way to provide all key stakeholders instant access to critical information in real- time. This enables faster troubleshooting of emerging prob- lems. Waiting for plant personnel to assemble and provide data or for experts to visit the site is costly when downtime or extended production slowdowns occur. Use of a trusted cloud platform, such as Solenis Cloud, addresses this need and allows all stakeholders to see the flow of problem resolu - tion remotely in real-time, thereby reducing stress and pro- viding peace of mind. This platform uses statistical process control tools and techniques to process and display data, thus enabling refinery operators to easily monitor and opti - mise the performance of their water treatment programmes.


PTQ Q2 2023

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you see refiners adopting beyond 2030? To what extent can renewable feed pretreatment be simplified (if at all)? A Arun Arora,, Daniel Gillis,, Theo Maesen, tmae-, Chevron Lummus Global An FCC will convert biomass into renewable naphtha, for which there are policy incentives in some parts of the world. Due to feedstock volume limitations, the size of an FCC typically limits renewable gasoline production to co- processing. In most parts of the world, stand-alone opera- tions are more policy-enabled than the co-processing of biomass and fossil-derived feedstocks. Since the feedstock volumes suffice to hydroprocess biomass into renewable diesel and jet in a stand-alone operation, hydroprocessing is usually preferred over FCC. Renewable feed pretreatment typically consists of multi- ple unit operations to make RBD (refine, bleach and degum) grade biomass. An alternate approach is a hydrothermal water wash to hydrolyse most of the gums. How effec- tive this simpler approach is will depend on the feedstock portfolio. A Nieves Álvarez, Senior Advisor in Oil Refining/ Petrochemical Technology, MERYT Catalysts & Innovation, As always, it will depend on what products we want to obtain in 2030 from the FCC and the kind of biofeed to the unit. Although we use renewables as feed, it will have the same principle as fossil fuels, the carbon/hydrogen ratio of the feed vs C/H of the product that will be obtained. So, if we want to obtain olefins, biofeed to the FCC should be hydrotreated to be able to convert it unless the biofeed is composed of paraffins, which so far does not happen. Most of the compounds obtained from the biofeed have a high content of aromatics or compounds with a carbon greater than 75% in their composition. These compounds gener- ate a lot of coke in FCC or aromatics even more complex, and again the FCC feed will be hydrotreated before enter- ing FCC units. Moreover, do not forget that CO2 emissions should be captured and/or transformed into other products. A Charles Brandl, Senior Director, Customer Marketing, Honeywell UOP, The most noticeable option for refiners adapting and maximising renewable and biomass feeds would be the increased availability of these feeds. As innovative tech- nologies such as hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL), Fischer- Tropsch, and other pyrolysis oil technologies are developed and commercialised, these feeds will become more eco- nomically available. As refiners continue to drive for net zero targets, they can take advantage of the FCC unit as an ideal existing asset and a robust process to effectively co-process these non-fossil-based feeds at an increasingly higher amount, much beyond the typical 5 vol%. In FCC, pretreating the renewables feeds such that the physical properties (viscosity and temperature) are ideal for effec- tive atomisation of the feeds within the riser is critical for complete conversion.

Lastly, predictive analytical tools that crunch large amounts of data are being adopted more widely, pro- vided the operator feels comfortable sharing their data. Solenis’ HexEval performance monitoring program for heat exchangers is an example of AI enabling decision-makers to identify, with confidence, which heat exchangers pose the greatest threat to reliable operation due to scale, corrosion, and/or fouling. Consequently, plant personnel can develop appropriate plans to optimise heat exchanger efficiency. Digital twins are another form of emerging AI that allows refiners to model the impact of process changes before implementation. With refinery operators striving to improve sustainability, for example, by reducing water use, these digital solutions are critical to ensuring that production, efficiency, and asset protection are not sacrificed in exchange for sustainabil - ity improvements. Reducing water use, for example, often increases scaling, corrosion, and fouling, which all nega- tively affect energy use, maintenance costs, and downtime. Seeing in real-time or via digital twins how each step change in water use reduction affects key performance indicators is powerful and readily available through industry leaders. A Charles Brandl, Senior Director, Customer Marketing, Honeywell UOP, As the refining and petrochemical industry evolves to address challenges related to the energy transition, sustain- ability and digital transformation (digitalisation) are critical to be viable and competitive. Adoption of digital applications, including cloud-enabled solutions, continues to improve and deliver benefits to the industry. Digitalisation is transform - ing how we will run sustainable, reliable, safe plants in the future. Advanced analytics (machine learning/AI) is becom- ing an integral part of digitalisation efforts. Intelligent, AI-driven applications are at the core of the journey from automation to autonomous operations, enabling self-optimising applications, autonomously adjust- ing to different operating conditions and environments and orchestrating disparate applications to optimise the opera- tions. Adoption of AI technology is key to delivering on the promise. The commercial success will depend not just on the technology readiness (maturity) but also on the organ- isational readiness to deploy the applications and sustain the value delivered. This will entail focusing on workforce development and organisational structure that can drive change management, successfully scale up, and deliver value to the business. Simply bolting machine learning or AI solutions onto specific layers may help with engineering productivity but will not provide an optimisation step change or add mil- lions in new margins to your bottom line. For example, our Performance Services offer digital applications and consult- ing services that help our customers to run sustainable, safe, reliable, and optimum operations. Q Considering the growing interest in maximising renew- able and biomass feeds (including Fischer-Tropsch liquids) through the FCC, what are the most noticeable options


PTQ Q2 2023

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Refinery of the future: bankable, flexible, and sustainable Efficient use of molecular precision across an integrated refining and petrochemical operation uncovers the best roadmap for refiners to meet their changing objectives

Keith Couch Honeywell UOP

A s firms work to realise their vision of how they want to engage the market across the energy transition, implementing those plans requires an investment strategy that is simultaneously bankable, flexible, and sus - tainable. In a business where investment opportunities are aligned with three-to-five-year maintenance turnaround schedules, opportunities span from smaller, highly tactical investments to longer-term strategies. While smaller investments can be funded out of cash flow, bolder projects often require access to external financing. These projects face increased challenges to secure the cash needed to bridge the energy transition. Simply responding to changes in the marketplace risks being too late and an inability to invest fast enough to maintain a going concern. The fundamental challenge is to invest in profitable invest - ments aligned with society’s increasing focus on environ - mental, social and governance (ESG) goals. Rising to these challenges is how Honeywell UOP helps its customers realise their refinery of the future. Healing a fractured business model Please, get rid of transfer pricing. Whether a firm operates a basic oil refinery or the most highly integrated refinery and petrochemicals complex, entitlements are pervasive in the form of transfer pricing between internal lines of business. These can be west-side vs east-side, conversion units vs others, and refinery vs aromatics vs olefins, to name a few. As the industry looks to drive efficiencies via connected and

digital, we learn more about the inefficiencies associated with such entitlements. Connected and digital themselves do not fix inefficient business models. As China has been the world leader in integrated R&P complexes, it drives step-change higher efficiency in the ‘Chairman’s Model’, in which each internal business is driven towards the same goal: the best overall profitability of the firm, not just their domain. Any digital or connected approach will simply mirror the inefficiencies of a fractured business model. Several major firms are realising this fundamental inefficiency and have started their journey to improvement – leadership structures are being modified, incentives are being realigned, and ben - efits are being realised. The first step in creating a future-for - ward refinery is to ensure the organisational structure reflects an integrated business model approach. When we consider decarbonisation and driving efficiencies, it is imperative to consider the whole operation. Efficient integration with molecular precision As we look at ways to increase a plant’s efficiency, we start at the macro level, but very quickly dig deeper into what is hap - pening at the most micro level. It is no longer good enough to talk about boiling ranges of feedstocks or even individual carbon numbers. Strategies for molecule management have matured to one of true molecular precision. Latest technology advancements manage operating efficiency at the level of individual isomers as we drive to minimise the work intensity for each component. As engineers and chemists, we can take almost any mol - ecule and convert it into almost any other molecule. But certain molecules want to be certain things. For example, by exerting energy (work) and capital, we can convert propane all the way to BTX. But what should we convert it into? The answer is: the thing that creates the highest value with the least amount of work and capital. To do that, we need to integrate efficiently across the entire enterprise. Less efficient operations are systematically losing their right to participate in future markets. How to measure efficiency? At Honeywell UOP, we focus on six fundamental efficiency metrics (see Figure 1 ). The five on the outside ring (carbon, hydrogen, utilities, emissions, and water – treated as a scarce resource) are in tension with each other and with capital at

Carbon Putting the right molecules in the right place


Utilities Doing more with less

Hydrogen Optimi si ng the sources and uses




Driving for the most bankable project

Water Treated as a scarce resource

Emissions Providing for a better tomorrow



Figure 1 Focus on six fundamental efficiency metrics


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