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sunset petrochemical refining pilot

Reactor cooling makes savings

Client: Gulf Coast refinery

Location: USA

Sectors: Petrochemical and refining

The Challenge

Save costs with faster reactor cooling

A Gulf Coast oil refinery needed to swap outa spent hydrotreater catalyst. During this process the hydrotreater reactor vessel needs to be cooled from 200°F to 80°F, and every moment spent cooling the vessel costs our customer money.

On previous turnarounds, the refinery had used liquid nitrogen to cool the vessel. But nitrogen is expensive and takes several days to cool the vessel down to 80°F. We were called in to find a better cooling process.

Key Facts

Weight of reactor vessel +900,000 kg
Weight of catalyst +450,000 kg
Speed of cool-down 11 hours
(93°C) Initial temperature 200 °f
(27°C) Cooled-down temperature 80°f

The Solution

A new method ready for approval in three days

The Aggreko Process Services (APS) team thrives on solving complex problems like these. Within three days, we had designed a hydrotreater reactor cooling process that would get the job done much faster than the liquid nitrogen method. With approval from the refinery, our temporary heat exchangers and chillers were quickly installed.

We tested everything prior to shipping, and made sure the on-site assembly was leak-free. Our team was on-hand round-the-clock during the cooling process, making sure the job was completed safely and without incident.


“The speed of our cool-down and the money saved were both huge wins for the refinery.”



The Impact

Faster, better-value reactor cooling

Our cooling system sliced two days off the time taken to cool the reactor. We reached the stipulated temperature of 80°F in just 11 hours, minimizing downtime. What’s more, we eliminated the need for liquid nitrogen, which significantly reduced the cost of the process.

The catalysts in these reactor vessels need replacing every two to five years. The refinery was so impressed with our cooling system that they have made pipeline modifications to replicate the set-up for future catalyst turnarounds.