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Applied Thermal Engineering 73 (2014) 1204e1210

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Applied Thermal Engineering


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/apthermeng

Energy optimization of crude oil distillation using different designs of


pre-ash drums
Mohmmad A. Al-Mayyahi a, b, *, Andrew F.A. Hoadley b, G.P. Rangaiah c
a

Department of Petrochemical Engineering, Technical College, Basrah 61001, Iraq


Department of Chemical Engineering, Monash University, Clayton, VIC 3800, Australia
c
Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117585, Singapore
b

h i g h l i g h t s
 Single & multiple pre-ash designs of the crude distillation unit are studied.
 The trade-off between CO2 emissions and the residue yield has been investigated.
 Multi-objective optimization was used to nd the trade-off solutions.
 Introducing crude pre-ashing reduces the total CO2 emissions.
 Optimum vapour feed location has been investigated.

a r t i c l e i n f o

a b s t r a c t

Article history:
Received 6 January 2014
Accepted 8 September 2014
Available online 16 September 2014

The Crude Distillation Unit (CDU) is among the major CO2 emitters in any petroleum renery. In view of
the simultaneous increase in the energy cost and environmental concerns, there is strong motivation to
analyse alternative methods to improve the energy efciency and consequently, to minimize CO2
emissions from conventional crude distillation. Crude pre-ashing is among promising techniques for
minimizing the heating energy requirements of the CDU. However, this might be at the cost of product
yield and/or throughput. This paper investigates the effects of using different pre-ash designs on the
energy efciency and associated CO2 emissions of the CDU. The resulting optimal solutions are presented
and their signicant features are discussed.
2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords:
Oil rening
Crude distillation unit
Pre-ash design
Heat integration
Multi-objective optimization
CO2 emissions

1. Introduction
The continual increase in the global energy demand and the
decline in fossil fuel reserves provide motivation for energy conservation in energy-intensive industrial processes. Different
methods are used to improve energy efciency of industrial processes such as the implementation of less energy-intensive technologies and the use of waste heat recovery systems. The Crude
Distillation Unit (CDU) is among the largest energy consumers and
consequently a large CO2 emitters in industrial processes. It is
estimated that the energy required for the CDU is equivalent to

* Corresponding author. Department of Petrochemical Engineering, Technical


College, Basrah 61001, Iraq. Tel.: 964 7722748739.
E-mail
addresses:
moh1973may@gmail.com,
muh_petro@yahoo.com
(M.A. Al-Mayyahi), Andrew.Hoadley@monash.edu (A.F.A. Hoadley), chegpr@
nus.edu.sg (G.P. Rangaiah).
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.applthermaleng.2014.09.024
1359-4311/ 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

about 2% of the energy contained in the crude oil [1]. For this
reason, many attempts have been made over the years to analyse
and improve the energy efciency of the CDU and to identify
promising modications based on pinch analysis and heat recovery
systems [2e6].
Crude pre-ashing is one of the promising energy conservation
methods, which can save a notable amount of energy within the
CDU. The basic principle of crude pre-ashing is to separate the
light fractions of the crude upstream of the furnace. Then, the light
fractions stream obtained is either mixed with the furnace outlet or
separately introduced into the main column at an appropriate
location. This could improve the hydraulic performance of the
furnace and reduce its energy consumption [7,8].
In the literature, research studies have been conducted to
investigate the effect of the implementation of crude pre-ashing
on the energy efciency of the CDU using different retrot strategies. Feintuch et al. found that the implementation of a pre-ash

M.A. Al-Mayyahi et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 73 (2014) 1204e1210

1205

objective (energy saving) is compromised by another objective


(distillate yield), a single optimal solution may not be obtained. An
alternative approach is to use Multi-Objective Optimisation (MOO)
which examines both objectives simultaneously. This is the
approach taken in this study to investigate optimization of the CDU
pre-ash for minimizing both the residue yield (an economic
objective) and total CO2 emissions (an economic and environmental objective).

drum before the desalter is a cost effective solution to increase the


energy recovery in the heat exchangers downstream of the furnace
[8]. The implementation of different pre-ash schemes and energy
saving opportunities were studied by Ji and Bagajewicz [9]. A step
by step optimization procedure based on the heat demand-supply
diagram was used to target the energy consumption of the CDU
under the maximum distillate yield conditions. They explained the
carrier-effect of the light fractions of the crude and its importance
in improving the separation of the gasoil fraction. In another work
[10], the same authors studied the effects of the pre-ashing on the
main column system integrated with the vacuum column. They
found that only a small reduction in the energy requirements of the
whole system can be obtained with the pre-ash unit.
Later, Yahyaabadi found that heating and cooling utility consumptions are not considerably affected by the location of the preash device [11]. However, he concluded that additional savings on
the operating costs can be obtained by introduction of the crude
preashing. Errico et al. compared different pre-ash devices for
energy savings within an industrial crude distillation [12]. The preash devices were compared from both energy and economic
perspectives. It was found that the energy savings that can be obtained from the implementation of the pre-ash drum are related
to a reduction in the light distillate and an increase in the middle
distillate. On the other hand, the implementation of the pre-ash
column results in a high increase of the light distillate but only
smaller energy savings in the furnace duty can be obtained
compared to those of the pre-ash drum conguration. Recently,
Luyben optimized the design of a pre-ash column before the CDU,
for reducing energy costs [13]. He investigated the main optimization variables including the pre-ash column pressure, reuxdrum temperature, and furnace outlet temperature.
The previous studies show that the introduction of the crude
pre-ash improves the hydraulic performance of the furnace and
reduces its energy consumption. Consequently, the reduction in the
energy consumption of the furnace will lead to a reduction in total
CO2 emissions. However, the implementation of the crude pre-ash
requires more capital investment which may impact the protability of the plant. Furthermore, the energy saving obtained by
implementing a crude pre-ash scheme is related to a reduction in
the light distillate yield, which is generally undesirable. When one

2. Overview of the crude distillation unit


The CDU is the rst and the major fractionation unit in any renery. It is used to separate crude oil into a number of petroleum
cuts of different boiling point ranges. The atmospheric and vacuum
distillation units are used to separate the lighter fractions (distillates) from the crude oil. Fig. 1 shows a typical process ow diagram
of the atmospheric distillation unit. Firstly, the crude oil from
storage tanks is preheated by a series of heat exchangers. A desalter
is installed in the heat exchangers train to reduce the salt content of
the crude by an electric desalting process. The incoming crude oil is
heated up to 120  C and mixed with water before it is fed to the
Desalter. The desalted crude is then heated to about 200  C; if a preash vessel is used, it is usually installed at around this temperature. The pre-ash vessel separates vapour from the liquid feedstock, thus reducing the vapour pressure of the crude [14]. The
liquid from the pre-ash vessel is then heated to the maximum
possible temperature (typically between 200 and 280  C) through
heat exchangers, and then sent to an atmospheric red heater to
achieve the required fractionation temperature of approximately
400  C (which varies with crude type) before entering the ash
zone of the column where the lighter hydrocarbons separate due to
the sudden increase in the volume of the column [14]. Usually, the
vapour from the pre-ash vessel is either fed into the ash zone of
the column or introduced at a higher location of the column where
the end points of the ashed vapour and internal liquid are close.
Naphtha is produced as a vapour and condensed by the overhead condensers (Fig. 1). Kerosene, diesel, and atmospheric gas oil
(AGO) are withdrawn as side streams and further rened using side
columns, which are either reboiled or use stripping steam, to
reduce the content of the lighter components in each product.

Offgas

Water
Vapour

Naphtha

PA1
Steam

Kerosene
PA2
Steam

Diesel

Vent
PA3
Steam

Water

AGO
Water

Crude oil

Desalter

Steam

Furnace

to the vacuum tower


Residue

Preflash Drum

Furnace
Atmospheric Tower

Fig. 1. The process ow diagram of the crude distillation unit.

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M.A. Al-Mayyahi et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 73 (2014) 1204e1210

These products are sent for processing in downstream units to increase the value of nal products whilst the atmospheric residue is
further heated and distilled under vacuum conditions to achieve
the required separation among the heavy components at lower
temperatures.
3. Crude pre-ashing
One of the primary purposes of the crude pre-ash is to reduce
the operating pressure of the main furnace of the CDU by separating light vapours from the pre-heated crude. Pre-ashing can
also help in reducing the furnace duty and decreasing the vapour
load in the atmospheric column [13]. However, implementing
crude pre-ash may have implications on the performance of the
CDU, such as a reduction in the yield and quality of the distillate
products [12]. The impact of the crude pre-ash on the CDU depends on many factors such as the type of the pre-ash, its location
in the crude preheat train and the feed location of ashed vapour in
the main column.
It has been found that the best location for the crude pre-ash is
after the desalter in order to reduce the water content of the crude
which may cause corrosion in the following devices [8,12,14]. Two
main types of pre-ash devices are normally used in the industry:
pre-ash drums and pre-ash towers or pre-fractionators. Pre-ash
drums are simple vessels used to separate light vapours from the
crude before the furnace. Then, the separated vapours are sent
directly to the distillation column. The vapour feed location is a
function of many factors such as the temperature and compositions
of the vapour stream and operating philosophy [12]. Pre-ash
drums are usually used to increase the capacity of the CDU by
reducing the vapour load on the bottom section of the distillation
column. On the other hand, pre-fractionators are used to achieve
more effective separation and improve specications of the distillates. Vapours produced from the pre-fractionator are not sent to
the distillation column [9].
The efciency of crude pre-ashing can be improved by using
multiple pre-ashing where multiple pre-ash drums can be used
at different temperatures and pressures. Various vapour streams of
different compositions are produced and sent to different tray locations in the distillation column. The present work investigates
the implications of using crude pre-ashing on the environmental
performance of the CDU. Both single and multiple pre-ashing are
considered, and different vapour feed locations in the atmospheric
column are examined.

Aspen HYSYS simulator is used to simulate the CDU including the


crude pre-ash unit. Based on the literature, the best location to install
the pre-ash drum is directly after the desalter [8,12,14]. To simulate the
multi pre-ash drums, the desalted crude is pumped through a heat
exchanger to heat it up then sent to the rst ash drum into which the
crude is separated into vapour and liquid phases, Fig. 2. The vapour from
the rst pre-ash is sent to the distillation column at a certain tray based
on the vapour compositions. The bottom liquid stream from the rst
pre-ash is further heated up before sending it to the next ash drum.
This design was used for all ash drums, see Fig. 2. The vapour fraction
(V/F) for each ash drum is manipulated to turn the ash drum on and
off. Any ash drum can be turned off by setting the (V/F) of the ash
drum to zero.

4. Multi-objective optimization
Often, optimization of real problems have two or more objectives. Many of these objectives such as prot, safety, and emissions
cannot be represented by a single objective function. Also, these
objectives are often conicting, and so consideration of the tradeoff is essential leading to a set of optimal (non-dominated) solutions. These so called Pareto-optimal solutions provide better
insight into the process, for decision making. MOO has been
implemented for studying many chemical process operations
including the CDU [15]. Inamdar et al. [16] used MOO to simultaneously optimize the selected conicting objectives associated with
an industrial CDU. Recently, Al-Mayyahi et al. [2] investigated the
trade-off between operating revenue and CO2 emissions from the
CDU using a blend of two crudes.
As has been previously mentioned, the implementation of a
crude pre-ash system would cause conicting impacts on some
objectives of the CDU such as energy consumption and product
yields. Therefore, these conicting impacts can be evaluated using
MOO and an optimized, trade-off solution can be found. In the
present study, the elitist non-dominated sorting genetic algorithm
(NSGA-II) implemented in Excel [17] is employed to investigate
the effects of crude pre-ashing on the economic and environmental performance of the CDU. NSGA-II is an upgraded version of
an optimization algorithm, and uses a special ranking criterion to
classify solutions into different non-dominated fronts. In the Excel
implementation of NSGA-II, potential solutions (represented by
decision variables) are encoded numerically using binary encoding;
see Ref. [17] for more details on the Excel-based NSGA-II.
to tray 4

V1
to tray 8
V2

D1
Desalter crude

to tray 16

F1
V3

D2

to tray 21

F2
V4

D3
F3

D4
F4

to the furnace

Fig. 2. Simulation of ash drums.

M.A. Al-Mayyahi et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 73 (2014) 1204e1210

44

Table 1
Decision variables and their bounds.
Units

Lower bound

Upper bound

MS
FT
(V/F)1
(V/F)2
(V/F)3
(V/F)4

kg mol/h

C
vol/vol
vol/vol
vol/vol
vol/vol

10
340
0
0
0
0

1000
380
2 or 4a
1
1
1

2 for multiple pre-ash and 4 for single pre-ash cases.

5. Case studies
In the present study, Arab light crude is used as a feedstock to
the CDU unit. Information of the crude oil assay can be found
elsewhere [18]. The atmospheric column consists of 29 trays, a total
condenser, three side strippers and three pump-around circuits. A
naphtha product is produced overhead, whilst kerosene, diesel and
atmospheric gas oil (AGO) are produced from the three side strippers. All side strippers are steam stripped where steam is injected
into the strippers to remove light components.
Three different cases are considered wherein the residue yield is
minimized (which corresponds to maximizing the total yield of the
distillates), as an economic objective, while minimizing the total
CO2 emissions (the environmental objective). Different emission
sources (furnaces, electrical energy, and steam) were considered in
the calculation of CO2 emissions. It is estimated based on energy
integration using pinch analysis to reduce the emissions that are
incurred as a consequence of using different utilities. Six decision
variables are allowed to vary within a realistic range to achieve
optimum values for the objectives. These variables are: the owrate
of the main stripping steam (MS), the furnace outlet temperature
(FT) and the volume fraction of the vapour from each of four preash drums (V/F). The decision variables and their bounds are
summarized in Table 1. The objective functions are optimized
subject to relevant constraints (Table 2). The temperature limits of
the fractions on the ASTM D86 curve, which are called Cut Points,
are used to dene the boiling range of fractions whilst the overlap
between adjacent fractions (so called Gap) is used to dene the
degree of separation between two adjacent fractions. The Gap is
commonly represented by the difference between the boiling
temperature of 5% ASTM of heavy fraction and boiling temperature
of 95% ASTM of light fractions. The gaps between the D86 95% and
5% cut points are used as quality constraints. The D86 95% cut
points of naphtha, kerosene and diesel are used as active specications in the CDU simulation. They were held constant at 182, 271
and 327  C respectively, to ensure that each product meets a basic
composition specication. Another active specication is used to
maintain the internal reux (overash) between rst tray above the
ash zone and ash zone. The overash is held constant at 2% to
prevent the dry out of the trays below the AGO withdrawal tray.
The CO2 emissions of the CDU are estimated based on energy
integration using pinch analysis. Energy integration is used to

42

Residue yield (vol %)

Variable

1207

40
38

without pre-flashing
with pre-flashing

36
34
32
30
41

42

43

44
45
CO2 emissions (t/h)

46

Constraint

Specication
16.7  C
0  C
11  C
181  C
271  C
327  C
2% vol

48

Fig. 3. Pareto-optimal solutions of case study-1.

enhance energy recovery within the system and reduce heating


requirements. Consequently, the emissions that are incurred as a
consequence of using these utilities will be minimized [2]. Furnaces
are the major energy consumers in the atmospheric and vacuum
distillation units [19]. The impact of higher residue yields on the
combined atmospheric and vacuum distillation system is considered by including the vacuum distillation unit (VDU) furnace in
both the total energy demand and the CO2 emissions objective
functions.
In the rst case study, the optimum results of the CDU without a
pre-ash is compared with the one having a pre-ash, where the
pre-ashed vapour is fed to tray 4 (counted from the top with
condenser being zero). The multiple pre-ashing is investigated in
the second case study where four pre-ash drums are used. The
vapour from the four pre-ashes are assumed to be equivalent to
the main four products; naphtha, diesel, kerosene and AGO
respectively. The four vapour streams (except for the rst vapour
stream) are introduced above the side stream of the equivalent
product namely tray 4, 8, 16 and 21, respectively to avoid product
contamination [20]. The third case study investigates the optimum
vapour feed location by comparing the results from the previous
two case studies with the results of feeding all vapour streams to
the bottom tray of the column.
The optimal values of the column design specications are
calculated based on 85% ooding limit and valve trays. Suitable
values of computational parameters in the NSGA-II algorithm were

Table 2
Constraints in the optimization problem.

Keroseneenaphtha (5e95) gap


Dieselekerosene (5e95) gap
AGOediesel (5e95) gap
Naphtha D86 95%
Kerosene D86 95%
Diesel D86 95%
Overash

47

Fig. 4. CC at minimum CO2 emissions.

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M.A. Al-Mayyahi et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 73 (2014) 1204e1210

450
400

350
T (o C)

300
250

without pre-flashing
with pre-flashing

200
150
100

50
0
0

50

100
H (MW)

150

200
Fig. 6. The change in the total CO2 emissions for multiple pre-ash design.

Fig. 5. GCC at minimum CO2 emissions.

previously determined [2]. These parameters and their values are:


random number seed 0.857, crossover probability 0.8, mutation probability 0.05 and population size 50. Around 200
generations are required to obtain a smooth set of Pareto-optimal
solutions.
5.1. Effect of crude pre-ashing
Fig. 3 shows the Pareto-optimal results of the CDU in the presence and absence of a crude pre-ash in one single ash drum. The
results show at high residue yield, the crude pre-ash signicantly
decreases the total CO2 emissions of the CDU. However, at low
residue yield, no benet can be seen of using the crude pre-ash.
This is because maximum vapour rates are required in order to
maximise distillation efciency.
Fig. 4 compares the composite curves (CC) of the CDU at minimum CO2 emissions before and after the addition of a pre-ash
drum. The slope of the hot and cold CCs represents the reciprocal
of heat capacity owrate (MCp) of hot and cold streams, respectively. Fig. 4 shows that the introduction of the pre-ash drum increases the slope of the cold CC above the pinch point, because
removing the vapour from the preheated crude reduces the crude
owrate (M in MCp) after the pre-ash drum. On the other hand,
the hot CC shifts horizontally to the left above the pinch point;
however, its slope remains constant. Fig. 5 shows the change in the
grand composite curves (GCC) of the CDU at minimum CO2 emissions after adding the pre-ash drum. The results are taken at the
same residue yield for the sake of comparison. The GCCs of the two
cases show a decrease of 8.7 MW (or 5.5%) in the minimum heating
duty, QHmin (Table 3). However, Fig. 5 indicates that the pinch point
temperature is not affected. In short, the introduction of pre-ash
will have very limited effects on the heat exchanger network.

At minimum CO2 emissions, the consumption of the main stripping steam (MS) was minimized, whilst maximizing the pre-ashed
vapour (V/F). On the other hand, maximum steam must be used for
minimum residue, if no pre-ash is allowed (Table 3). In addition,
with pre-ash, it is necessary to operate at the maximum furnace
outlet temperature (FT) in order to achieve the required overash
specication. However, when there is no pre-ash, a lower temperature can be used due to the high amount of the light vapour in the
feed. The high residue yield associated with a high pre-ash fraction
can be attributed to the loss of the carrier effect of the light vapours in
the main feed stream, as explained by Ji and Bagajewicz [9].
HYSYS tray sizing utility was used to compare different mechanical designs of the distillation column. Table 3 shows that
design for minimum residue yield requires a higher column
diameter (Dmax) than the minimum CO2 emissions cases, because of
the high amount of vapour owing inside the column. Furthermore,
the crude pre-ash reduces Dmax of the atmospheric column.
Introducing all vapour streams into the column at the same tray
may cause hydrodynamic problems such as increasing the ooding
factor, and the signicant reduction in the vapour load below the
vapour feed location may lead to a lower separation efciency in
this section. Both these effects may be countered by changing the
type of tray or packing.
5.2. Effect of multiple pre-ashing
The effect of using multiple pre-ash drums on the reduction in
the total CO2 emissions is studied in Fig. 6. Up to four pre-ash
44
42

CO2 (t/h)
Residue yield (vol%)
MS (kg mol/h)
FT ( C)
(V/F) (vol/vol)
QHmin (MW)
FQ (MW)
HPS (MW)
MPS (MW)
Dmax (m)

Minimum CO2 emissions

Minimum residue yield

Without
pre-ash

With
pre-ash

Without
pre-ash

With
pre-ash

44.3
40.4
29.4
360
e
163.7
108.7
35.1
19.9
8.2

41.9
40.4
112.6
380
3.43
155
107.3
30.5
17.2
7.9

47.0
30.9
1000
380
e
167
116.5
32.1
18.4
9.3

47.0
30.9
998
380
0.0
166.7
116.2
32.1
18.4
9.3

Residue yield (vol %)

40
Table 3
Comparison of the optimum results of the CDU with and without pre-ash.

4 pre-flash drums
single pre-flash drum

38
36
34
32
30
41

42

43

44
45
CO2 emissions (t/h)

46

Fig. 7. Pareto-optimal solutions of case study-2.

47

48

M.A. Al-Mayyahi et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 73 (2014) 1204e1210

44

Table 4
Optimum results of multiple pre-ash drum case at minimum CO2.
Minimum CO2

Minimum residue yield

41.5
40.4
160
380
1.9
0.73
0.68
1
154.5
109.8
28.7
15.9
7.3

47.0
30.9
989
380
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
166.3
116.4
32.0
17.9
9.1

42

Residue yield (vol %)

CO2 (t/h)
Residue yield (vol%)
MS (kg mol/h)
FT ( C)
(V/F)1 (vol/vol)
(V/F)2 (vol/vol)
(V/F)3 (vol/vol)
(V/F)4 (vol/vol)
QHmin (MW)
FQ (MW)
HPS (MW)
MPS (MW)
Dmax (m)

1209

4 pre-flash drums-bottom feeding

40

4 pre-flash drums-top feeding


4 pre-flash drums-1st bottom feeding

38

single pre-flash drum-top feeding


36

single pre-flash drum-bottom feeding

34
32
30

drums in series are used upstream of the furnace. The four vapour
streams produced from the four pre-ash drums are fed to tray 4, 8,
16 and 21. Fig. 6 shows that the minimum CO2 emissions of the CDU
reduces as the number of pre-ashes increases. However, after 2
pre-ashes, the reduction in the CO2 emissions tends to be negligible. Fig. 7 compares the Pareto-optimal solutions of the single
pre-ash of Case study 1 and the multiple pre-ash case with four
pre-ash drums. For the residue yield of greater than 34%, the latter
case yields a slight reduction in the minimum CO2 emissions from
the single pre-ash case due to the slight reduction in the minimum heating duty; see Tables 3 and 4. However, for residue yields
below this value, the two Pareto-optimal curves are identical.
Similar to the single pre-ash, maximum furnace outlet temperature is required to achieve the 2% overash specication.
The GCCs of the single and multiple pre-ashing cases have
almost the same trend which shows the slight effects of the multiple pre-ash on the heating/cooling demands of the CDU
compared to the single pre-ash drum (Fig. 8). Besides the slight
improvement of the multiple pre-ashing over the single preashing regarding the reduction in the total CO2 emissions, introducing the ashed vapour streams into different trays reduces Dmax
which will reduce the ooding problem and increase the column
throughput (see Table 4). At minimum residue yield, the loads on all
pre-ash drums are negligible and therefore, the results are nearly
identical to the previous case study with no pre-ashing.
5.3. Effect of vapour feed location
The feed location of the ashed vapour is an important
parameter in the pre-ash design. As previously mentioned, the
vapour is usually fed either to the ash zone or to the tray where

41

43

44
45
CO2 emissions (t/h)

46

47

48

Fig. 9. Pareto-optimal solutions of case study-3.

the end points of the ashed vapour nearly match the internal
liquid compositions. This case study compares two vapour feed
locations: above and below the ash zone. In the latter option, the
ashed vapour is fed to the bottom tray of the column (one tray
below the main feed location).
Fig. 9 compares the Pareto-optimal solutions of different cases
considering different vapour feed locations for single and multiple
pre-ash designs. In the gures, bottom feeding refers to the case of
introducing all vapour streams into the bottom tray one tray just
below the ash zone. Top feeding refers to introducing vapour
streams into different trays above the ash zone based on the end
points of each vapour stream. One additional case is considered,
where only the vapour from the rst ash drum is introduced into
the bottom tray whilst other vapour streams from the remaining
ash drums are introduced into the above-ash zone trays. The
latter case is referred to as 1st bottom feeding in Fig. 9. The results
show that using the bottom tray as the only vapour feed location
(bottom feeding curves in Fig. 9) records higher CO2 emissions with
a slight improvement in the multiple pre-ash designs over the
single pre-ash. On the other hand, sending the ashed vapour to
trays above the ash zone (top feeding curves in Fig. 9) reduces the
total CO2 emissions of the CDU with a slight preference for the
multiple pre-ash design as shown in Case study 2. However, the
decrease in the CO2 emissions is accompanied by a signicant increase in the residue yield as shown in Fig. 9 which can be

Table 5
Comparison of the optimum results for different vapour feeding locations.

450

4 pre-ash drums 4 pre-ash drums


Single
(bottom feeding) (1st e bottom feeding)
pre-ash drum
(bottom feeding)

400

350
300
T (o C)

42

250

4 pre-flash drums
single pre-flash drum

200
150
100

50
0
0

50

100
H (MW)

Fig. 8. GCC at minimum CO2.

150

200

CO2 (t/h)
Residue
yield (vol%)
MS (kg mol/h)
FT ( C)
(V/F)1 (vol/vol)
(V/F)2 (vol/vol)
(V/F)3 (vol/vol)
(V/F)4 (vol/vol)
QHmin (MW)
FQ (MW)
HPS (MW)
MPS (MW)
Dmax (m)

43
38.5

42.6
38.5

41.6
38.5

10
371
3.2
e
e
e
163.4
118.7
29.4
15.3
8.2

10
371
2
0.5
0.57
0.46
164
123
27
13.8
8.2

12
380
1.5
1
1
1
158.5
116.2
28.5
13.8
7.9

1210

M.A. Al-Mayyahi et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 73 (2014) 1204e1210

450
400

350
T (oC)

300

250
4 pre-flash drums-bottom feeding

200
150

1st pre-flash drum-bottom feeding

100

PA
QHmin
V

50
0
0

50

100
H (MW)

150

attributed to the drastic decrease in the carrier-effect of the main


crude feed [9]. The negative effect of the absence of the light vapours in the crude feed can be mitigated by sending part of the
ashed vapour, preferably from the rst pre-ash drum, to the
bottom tray. The results show that, compared to the multiple preashing with top feeding, a decrease of 1.5% in the residue yield
can be achieved if the vapour of the rst pre-ash drum is sent to
the bottom tray (see Table 5). Furthermore, a slight improvement in
the CO2 emissions can be obtained. For the same residue yield,
Table 5 shows that feeding the rst pre-ash vapour to the bottom
tray requires a lower Dmax than the other two cases. The GCCs in
Fig. 10 show that by sending only the rst pre-ash vapour to the
bottom tray slightly decreases the heating and cooling duty
required, compared with sending all the vapour to the bottom tray.
6. Conclusions
Multi-objective optimization was used to investigate the effects
of crude pre-ash on the energy savings and the corresponding CO2
emissions of the CDU. A binary coded genetic algorithm, NSGA-II
implemented in Excel, was used along with a rigorous and
comprehensive CDU model. The introduction of crude pre-ash has
shown a noticeable reduction in the CO2 emissions of the CDU,
especially at high residue yields. However, at low residue yields, the
results show no advantage of using a crude pre-ash process. In
addition, it has been shown that introducing the light vapour from
the rst pre-ash drum into the bottom tray can further reduce the
CO2 emissions for the same residue yield.
Nomenclature
atmospheric gas oil
crude distillation unit
ash drum
maximum column diameter, m
feed volumetric owrate to ash drum

furnace duty, MW
furnace outlet temperature,  C
grand composite curve
high pressure steam, MW
multi-objective optimization
medium pressure steam, MW
owrate of the main stripping steam, kg mol/h
a binary coded elitist non-dominated sorting genetic
algorithm
pump around circuit
minimum heat duty, MW
vapour volumetric owrate from each pre-ash drum

200

Fig. 10. GCC at minimum CO2 emissions.

AGO
CDU
D
Dmax
F

FQ
FT
GCC
HPS
MOO
MPS
MS
NSGA-II

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