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A refinery operator had been experiencing high expander vibrations on their fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit due to fouling of the expander blades. The expander had to be cleaned about every six weeks, resulting in loss of FCC and refinery throughput. The refinery team believed that fouling of the expander blades was a result of high iron levels on their catalyst.

The refinery operators asked Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE) to help reduce the marginal iron (iron added to the catalyst) from the feedstock. The local BHGE refinery support team worked with Baker Hughes technology experts to develop the most effective solution for this problem. After several meetings with the customer, an action plan was developed to implement a customized JETTISON™ solids release agent (SRA) program. After the chemical treatment was initiated, optimization of the program to obtain maximum performance was designed, approved, and executed.

Once the JETTISON SRA program was optimized with desalter operations, the refinery saw a step change from 17% to ~100% of the solids removed from the crude, and released into the brine effluent. Additionally, the marginal iron on the catalyst was reduced by more than 20%.

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Challenges & Results
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Challenges

  • Expander vibrations on FCC resulted in throughput reductions
  • Refinery believed high iron levels on catalyst were causing expander fouling
  • and iron levels in desalter demonstrated neutral buoyancy characteristics

Results

  • Improved FCC unit on-stream time and refinery throughput by reducing expander fouling
  • Reduction in Fe deposited on the FCC catalyst