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Retrofit of heat exchanger networks of a petroleum refinery crude unit (CDU) using pinch analysis
Mammen, John Joe
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Energy efficiency has become an important feature in the design of process plants due to the rising cost of energy and the more stringent environmental regulations being implemented worldwide. In South Africa as in other African countries, most of the chemical plants were built during the era of cheap energy with little emphasis placed on energy efficiency due to the abundance of cheap utility sources such as coal and crude oil. In most of these plants, there exists significant potential for substantial process heat recovery by conceptual integration of the plant’s heat exchangers. Pinch Technology (PT) has been demonstrated to be a simple and very effective technique for heat integration and process optimization. This study applies the PT approach to retrofit the heat exchangers network of the Crude Distillation Unit (CDU), of a complex petroleum refinery with the aim to reduce utilities requirement and the associated gaseous pollutants emission. This objective is accomplished by firstly conducting an energy audit of the unit to scope for potential energy saving. The existing Heat Exchanger Network (HEN) was re-designed using the remaining problem analysis (RPA) to achieve improved process energy recovery while making maximum use of the existing exchangers. The aim is to maintain the existing plant topology as much as possible. This network was later relaxed trading heat recovery with number of heat transfer unit so as to optimize the capital cost. These were implemented in AspenPlus v7.2 environment. The cost implications of the retrofitted and evolved networks including the capital and operating costs were determined on a 5 years payback time basis. The Problem Table (PT) analysis revealed that the minimum utilities requirements are 75 MW and 55 MW for the hot and cold utilities respectively. Compared to the existing utilities requirements of 103 MW for hot utility and 83 MW for cold utility, this represent a potential savings of about 26 % and 33 % savings for the hot and cold utilities respectively. The target utilities usage in the re-designed network after applying Remaining Problem Analysis (RPA) was found to be 55 MW for the cold utility and 75 MW for hot utility. The relaxed HEN required a cold utility of 62.5 MW and hot utility of 81 MW. From the total cost estimation, it was found that, although an energy saving of 34% can be achieved by the re-designed network before relaxation, the capital cost, US$ 1670000 is significantly higher than for the existing network (about US$ 980000). The final relaxed network gave an energy saving of 34% and with total cost of US$ 1100000. It was recommended from the study after cost comparisons of the four different networks (the original network, the MER network, the relaxed network and a grass-root design) that the best network for the retrofit purpose was the relaxed HEN, because there is no major shift in deviation from the topology of the original network. From the analysis it was found that a 34% saving in energy cost could be achieved from this retrofit. The Total Annual Cost (TAC) for this network gives credence to the fact that this retrofit which applied the rules of pinch analysis can bring about real saving in energy usage.