28 Nov 2017

Temporary cooling at refinery amine systems

usa temperature control

Temporary cooling at refinery amine systems


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The removal of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) from hydrogen-rich systems is a critical operation at all refineries. It is extremely important to keep H2S concentration low in natural gas operations due to its combustion products that can be toxic and polluting. Besides H2S, the CO2 removal is also key to increase combustion heat. 

One issue that many refineries and gas plants face relates to elevated corrosion rates during this critical process. Monoethanolamine (MEA) solutions are the most effective for H2S and CO2 removal, but are also the most corrosive. Thus, the subsequent iron sulfide (FeS) corrosion product is very common despite the usage of corrosion inhibitors.

This corrosion results in several concerning effects, such as poor amine regeneration and scrubbing efficiency, excessive foaming of the amine solution and fouling of lean amine lines and cooling equipment. Special attention should be paid to fouling of the lean amine coolers, regenerator exchangers and air coolers. The higher the concentration of suspended solids, the worse the cooling efficiency. And if the lean oil temperature is not at the optimal 100 F, the plant is in danger of violating environmental restrictions.

This is when Aggreko’s team of process experts come with engineered temporary cooling solutions to deliver ideal process conditions, so there are no interruptions to production.  Temporary heat exchangers can be strategically placed along the hot lean amine circuit for optimal operation. These temporary heat exchangers can be cooled with air coolers, cooling towers and/or chillers in order to get to the desired lean amine temperature.

With lean amine at the optimal temperature, scrubbing efficiency is maintained, LPG loss to fuel is reduced and production rates are kept. Not to mention the safety and environmental aspects of reducing pressure and emissions.

In this article from Inspectioneering, you can find more information to better understand what to expect for fouling and corrosion in a refinery plant and how to solve it quickly. A couple of examples from Aggreko illustrate how a temporary cooling system pay for itself in a matter of days with the process gains that it generates.

Massimo Capra is manager of Aggreko Process Services in Europe. He supports Europe, Russia and the Middle East’s refining and petrochemical markets. You can also download the white paper that generated this article. 

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