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for water, and also because of the additional water differential through the exchangers, causing

condensed between the ICP and the accumulator, the significant losses in throughput, as well as severe
downstream pH will generally be higher than at the under-deposit corrosion.
ICP. Because of this reason, and the natural pH
As it can be determined from the situation described
variability discussed above, a control range for the
above, a natural consequence of manual pH
accumulator of 5.5-6.5 is generally recommended.
measurement and neutralizer pump adjustment in the
overhead is that both transient chloride and amine
case study variations are often missed, contributing to the
A U.S. refiner had been experiencing severe amine described problems. Prior to the availability of
chloride salting and associated corrosion in their reliable in-line data-gathering devices; coupled with
overhead trays over the past several years. This was automated, real-time chemical feed equipment, this
true, even though a relatively small amount of inefficient practice of manual control has historically
neutralizing amine was being fed (< 1 gpd, or 3.8 lpd). been the norm.

To address the problems described above, the SUEZ
TrueSense for Process – Crude Overhead Monitoring
System, or COMS, was installed and commissioned.
This system has the capability to accurately monitor
pH and adjust the neutralizer pump automatically in
real-time. The on-board wireless gateway also allows
connectivity with SUEZ’s InSight* platform, which is a
cloud-based knowledge management system for
constant monitoring and visualization of results.
Example of fouling in a crude unit overhead system
caused by amine salting.

The refinery had a history of processing a highly

variable crude slate. In addition, the feed to the
fractionator often contained high levels of tramp
amines from upstream operations. It was determined
that the tramp amines in the feed were leading to high
salt points in the overhead, and ultimately causing the
salting problem. Because the standard procedure
was to only measure pH and adjust neutralizer dosage
one time per shift, plant personnel often were not
aware of changing conditions and therefore were not
able to react in a proactive way to counter transient
problems. In order to protect against a potentially
undetected chloride spike leading to low pH attack, a
policy was therefore adopted to maintain the
neutralizer rate at a level higher than theoretically
necessary. This situation, in combination with high TrueSense for Process - COMS is skid-mounted, and
levels of tramp amines, resulted in a pH consistently designed for performance in tough refinery environments.
over the high end of the control range, which
exacerbated the salt deposition issues inside the The COMS system works by taking a continuous water
tower. slip-stream from the naphtha accumulator, cleaning
it, and then continuously analyzing the pH and using
As a side-note, while it was not experienced at this this information to control the neutralizer pump. This
refinery due to a good water wash system, amine
information can then be wirelessly sent to the Insight
chloride salt deposition can also result in process- system for analysis, storage, continuous observation
side fouling of the overhead system’s condenser and alarm management.
bundles. This can then result in increased pressure

Page 2 CS1442EN.docx
The InSight knowledge management system demonstrated the minimal variation between COMS’ two on-board pH probes.

results chemical costs without risk of transient undetected

low pH conditions.
The Insight chart below shows the comparison of the
measurements of each of the redundant onboard pH
probes over a period of four months. For the first two
months, the two pH measurements tracked each TrueSense for Process - COMS has been shown to
other. However, often there was a noted discrepancy very accurately detect pH variations in an overhead
between the two measurements. In addition, these system and proactively control a neutralizer pump in
automated pH measurements did not match the real-time. This rapid detection and control provides
plant’s offline grab sample measurements in the the opportunity to proactively minimize the effects of
laboratory. large transient variations in acid-to-base balance,
often leading to either ICP attack, salt deposition, or
In January, approximately midway through the time
both. Because such undetected events can produce
period, a weekly sensor maintenance program was
very high short-term corrosion rates, the real-time
implemented. The difference between the two on-
response enabled by the COMS unit helps to reduce
board pH measurements was minimized. In addition,
these corrosion events. As a result, the overall
the results matched offline laboratory readings from
overhead corrosion control program is more efficient
grab samples.
and reliable, meaning fewer unscheduled shutdowns
During this time period, refinery personnel tested an and unplanned maintenance expenses, while
alternative pH measurement system in a second improving processing flexibility and plant profitability.
overhead system. The refinery has since deemed the
In summary, in the case above the refinery’s objective
unit unreliable and is relying on TrueSense for
to stabilize overhead conditions and reduce
Process - COMS for pH measurement.
neutralizer usage was achieved without increasing
In the overhead system of this refinery, although the risk to operations. Routine maintenance of the
pH was accurately measured by the COMS system, a equipment is easily performed and assures pH
high influx of tramp amines caused the pH to readings that are consistent with on-site laboratory
consistently range over the upper control boundary of testing. TrueSense for Process – COMS has provided
6.5. Before the COMS unit was installed, in order to a safe and reliable way to reduce overall neutralizer
protect against possible low pH spikes, the neutralizer usage and its associated contribution to salt
was historically base-fed at a low, but constant and deposition. Because the pump was throttled back, but
higher-than-necessary dosage. Thus, when the COMS is actively controlled and ready to respond to a low pH
unit was placed into control mode, the neutralizer excursion at all times, the neutralizer reduction was
pump was immediately reduced to a minimum value achieved without additional corrosion risk.
necessary to maintain pump prime, effectively turning
it off. The reduction of neutralizer usage enabled by
the COMS system led to an immediate lowering of

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