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Delayed Coker Fired Heater

Design and Operations

Sim Romero
Rio Oil & Gas 2010
13-16 September 2010 Riocentro Convention Center Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Como Conquistar a Liderana de Mercado Na Nova Dcada

2010 KBC Advanced Technologies plc. All Rights Reserved.

Heater Design and Operations

The fired heater is the key piece of equipment in the delayed coker - delivering the correct thermal conditions to drive cracking and coking reactions The objective is to keep the heater from coking or fouling as long as possible and still get the result needed
Sufficient heat is needed to drive thermal cracking and polymerization reactions in the coker High heater outlet result in less coke and more liquid products incremental gas oil is of very poor quality Low heater outlet temperature result in several coke drum operating problems (foaming, hot spots etc)

Heater Design and Operations

Why Do Coker Heater Foul - Chemistry
Thermal Cracking Is Both Cracking And Polymerization
Vacuum Resid or other coker feeds


0 500

1500 2000 2500 3000

Boiling Point, F

The polymerization or coking kinetics are a function of; Feed quality (i.e. asphaltenes, concarbon, sulfur etc) Feed contaminates (i.e. sodium, iron oxides/sulfides, general inorganic solids) Heater operating conditions time at temperature and heat flux
Delayed coker furnace fouling is a complex function of the thermal kinetics

Heater Design and Operations

Why Do Coker Heater Foul - Feed Quality Issues Asphaltene and concarbon content are strong indicators of fouling rates

Asphaltene content increases exponentially as the API gravity decreases

Feed quality is primary factor affecting heater run length

Heater Design and Operations

Why Do Coker Heater Foul - Operating Conditions
Tube Skin Temperature

Heat Flux

Coke formation occurs at the boundary layer where the velocity is low and the temperature is high.

Q = Surface x Heat
Area Flux

The coke thickness acts as an insulation to heat transfer causing the tube wall temperature to increase.

High Heat Flux and Low Velocities Increase Tube Fouling/Coking


Heater Design and Operations

Why Do Coker Heater Foul - Operating Conditions
Clean Conditions
Outside Tube Wall Temperature Slightly Greater Than Boundary Layer Temperature - Thermal Resistance Due To Metal Wall

Fouled Conditions
Outside Tube Wall Temperature Significantly Greater Than Boundary Layer Temperature Thermal Resistance Due To Metal Wall And More Importantly The Coke Deposited On The Tube


Heater Design and Operations

Why Do Coker Heater Foul - Contaminates
Salts, iron oxides, oxygen and other contaminates can accelerate heater fouling at times acting like a catalyst to coking in the heater tubes Typical Coke In Furnace Tube Analysis
Sample Date Moisture (as received, %) Ash (%) 3/24/2005 10.4 38.49 3/24/2005 7.05 37.57 3/24/2005 7.3 35.55 10/4/2005 1.66 17.39 10/4/2005 1.8 27.34

Analysis of Ash
Silicon (dry, ppm) Iron (dry, ppm) Vanadium (dry, ppm) Nickel (dry, ppm) Aluminum (dry, ppm) Calcium (dry, ppm) Sodium (dry, ppm) Magnesium (dry, ppm) 10,270 241,100 1,699 1,023 251 7,799 5,439 2,764 15,240 169,400 2,140 1,607 111 12,230 7,227 3,196 14,190 272,700 1,760 1,393 2,385 9,225 3,954 2,107 5,623 301,900 19,910 15,880 2,645 10,130 7,004 842 4,551 312,000 8,577 3,037 2,506 15,910 19,800 3,519

Crude Unit Desalter Performance Significantly Affects The Delayed Coker Heater

Heater Design and Operations

Design Parameters To Mitigate Coking In The Heater Tubes
Single vs. Double Fired Heater Tubes
For an average heat flux of 10,000 BTU/Hr/SqFt the peak flux on the tube will be

18,000 BTU/Hr/SqFt

12,000 BTU/Hr/SqF t

Single Fired Tube

Uneven flux distribution peak to average heat flux is about 1.8

Double Fired Tube

Even flux distribution peak to average heat flux is about 1.2

Double fired heater design reduces the peak flux and allows for higher average flux rates the average flux should, in a new design, still be limited

Heater Design and Operations

Higher velocities velocity steam
Helps to reduce fouling by removing coke as it form in the tubes Improves the heat transfer rate in the boundary layer Reduces the residence time in the heater

Higher velocities velocity steam

Increased sour water Increased pressure drop thru heater Increased tower loading Increased drum and flash zone velocities
Increased velocity steam will help reduce coke fouling but at a cost (drum solids carry over, tower flooding, sour water etc)

Heater Design and Operations

Design & Operating Parameters Firebox
Flame impingement will rapidly foul the affected area Ultralow NOx burners have very small fuel orifices at the burner tip and will plug with time The fuel should be filtered with a fuel gas coalescer The fuel gas line from the coalescer to the burners should SS Steam trace the fuel gas line especially in cold climates In a retrofit the box height needs to be reviewed - ultralow NOx burner extend the flame and can cause flame impingement

Flame impingement can rapidly foul the heater coil


Heater Design and Operations

Design & Operating Parameters Tube Metallurgy
Tube metallurgy 9 Chrome vs. SS 347 SS Sch 80 tubes design temperature limit is much higher ~1400F The higher temperature limit may not be possible if you spall because o f the coke thickness at temperature higher than 1300F The coefficient of expansion is much greater than 9 Chrome, which can be good for spalling but can cause problems with uneven tube growth or shrinkage and keeping the tubes from moving off their supports SS can significantly reduce scale on the outside of the tube External tube ceramic coating Effective in reducing scale Can shift the heat load away from high heat flux and high tube wall temperature zones Will slightly increase firing rates
SS tubes are a good replacement for 9 Chrome but some of the perceived benefits of longer runs may not be possible due to excessively thick coke in the coil and the difficulty this presents for spalling

Heater Design and Operations

Design & Operating Parameters Firebox Oxygen Control O2 levels can be controlled too closely (less than 3%) run higher O2 (greater than 5%) will help reduce fouling by lowering the tube wall temperature Higher O2 will shifts heat to convection section and reduces radiant flux rates Higher O2 will lower peak by lowering the tube wall temperature Increasing the O2 from ~3% to ~8% will lower the tube wall temperature by ~75F Multiple O2 analyzers are needed in a typical fire box Air preheat systems Good way to improve efficiency but are costly Startup procedures need to be well thought out with air preheat systems generally start with the on natural draft 1st
Because of the severe coking issue in a delayed coker heater the O2 levels should be relaxed to 5% to 8%

Heater Design and Operations

Design & Operating Parameters Temperature Of The Heater Outlet

Location of Thermowell
Perpendicular to pipe location results in a short thermowell and can lead to errors in measurements Poor insulation around the TW can cause poor measurements Return bend location gives better performance Decoking methods need to be considered with the location of the thermal wells Metallurgy or special hardening should be required to prevent erosion Some locations are using the process temperature two to four tubes back in the process
Straight run out of heater short thermowell longer thermowell First 90 bend out of heater

Badly installed thermowells can significantly effect heater performance


Heater Design and Operations

Operating Parameters Heater Outlet Temperature The outlet temperature can vary depending on:
Feedstock paraffinic feeds require more heat due to increased cracking Lighter boiling point distribution in feed will vaporize in the transfer line and enter the drum cooler High pressure drops in the transfer line will increase vaporization in the transfer line and enter the drum cooler also create high backpressure and lower velocities in the heater coil Heat loss in the transfer line and coke drums will require added heater outlet temperatures What should the outlet be set to Enough to avoid problems in the drum foaming, excessively soft coke and hot spots Enough to meet coke quality specifications i.e. anode coke VCM specs
The objective is to deliver sufficient heat to the coke drums the drum inlet should be about 890F to 900F

Heater Design and Operations

Steam-Air Decoking Difficult and labor intensive must watch air/steam ratio to prevent overheating the tubes with accelerated combustion Not practices as much Requires a heater/unit shut down Can cause damage to the tubes if the tubes are overheated carburization of tubes Requires some spalling to remove the bulk of the coke before the actual air burn Pigging or mechanical coke removal Very easy for operations contracted work Requires heater/unit shut down Can work inside heater box simultaneously (but not common) Can damage the tube if the pig metal studs are improperly used o Tungsten carbide has a Brinell hardness of 600-800 o Most furnace tube materials, will have a Brinell hardness of 150-225 Online Spalling Can be difficult initially operation needs to walk through the process carefully detailed MOC Does not require unit shutdown Every effective in removing coke in the lower radiant section of the heater not effective for removing inorganic solids in the convection section of the heater Risk of plugging the coil if the spall is done too aggressively and/or if there is too much coke in the tubes is a good maximum thickness Return bend in the heater and 90 bend directly outside the heater need to be thicker to prevent erosion from spalling coke

General practice is to online spall and pig decoke when the opportunity arises

Heater Design and Operations

Operating Practices - Heater Tubes And Unit Monitoring
Provides a way to estimate decoking schedule Shows abnormal operations or feed quality Sudden changes in sodium content Fire box problems Measure the effectiveness of increased steam velocity Measure the effectiveness of shifting O2 levels

Fouling rates and monitoring heater operations Design should be for less than 1.5F/day Greater than 3F/day implies an operational problem or excessively high heat flux 3F/days = 3 month run 1.5 /day = 6 month run Use a linear regression to filter out variables Infrared scans should be done to verify or check tube metal skin temperatures

General practice is to online spall and pig decoke when the opportunity arises

Heater Design and Operations

Operating Practices Safety Issues
Fire box startup problems Auto ignition systems - keep the operator safely away from the box on startup Forced draft systems go to natural draft 1st then latter switch to forced draft O2 level controls avoid O2 level optimization until after startup Circulation or putting the unit into by-pass requires lowering the outlet temperature significantly Burners will need to be cut out and sometimes pilots The outlet temperature must be kept below 700F or lower to prevent polymerization Frequent (per shift min.) visual inspection of the heater is required regardless of the degree of instrumentation Loss of flow requires immediate steam purging Automate the purge system on loss of flow After a loss of flow event, operate with a higher than normal velocity steam rates to remove newly deposited coker. This should not be done on a full drum especially if the coke drum was filled cold The coke drum can not be filled with low heater outlet temperatures for extended periods of time this will cause foaming and a possible foam over.


Heater Design and Operations

Recent Innovations In Coker Fired Heaters Acoustic Pyrometry


Acoustic pyrometry is a relatively new technology for measuring gas temperature in a furnace. This method involves determining the temperature of flue gas by measuring the speed of sound waves as they pass through the gas. A detailed mapping of the gas temperature is possible with a matrix of sound transmitters and receivers. Acoustic pyrometry provides a continuous monitoring of the heat flux in the fire box

Heater Design and Operations

Recent Innovations In Coker Fired Heaters Flow Meters
Wedge Meter
Better reliability - large diaphragm pressure taps Similar accuracy to an orifice plate Fewer solid plugging issues

Sonic Meter
New technology very low maintenance and good reliability No obstruction in flow path Pressure drop equal to an equivalent length of straight pipe Unaffected by changes in temperature, density or viscosity Corrosion/erosion -resistant Accuracy about 1% of flow rate

Coriolis Meter
New technology some maintenance and startup issues Good reliability Excellent accuracy- better than +/-0.1% with an turndown rate more than 100:1. The Coriolis meter can also be used to measure the fluid density.

A great man once said if you cant measure it, you cant manage it

Muito Obrigado
Sim Romero KBC Advanced Technologies, Inc. +1 832 494 0441