Ethylene Unit Operation Management Concepts

Jeff Gray Karl Kolmetz Chee M Tham

Ethylene Unit Operation Management Concepts
1. Current Views A. B. 2. Market Outlook Expansions

Ethylene Plant Overall Economics A. B. C. General Investment Plant Capacity You versus the Industry


Follow The Money A. Where the Money is Made B. Where the Money is Spent C. Where the Money is Lost


Engineering Based Human Resources A. Wages versus Productivity


Effective Management A. B. C. Time Management Set up the Correct Atmosphere Details are Important

. If you have five ethylene plants. The second change is how we operate our plants. New furnace technology has improved yields. From 1992 to 1996 were good years. The Chinese speak of twelve-year cycles and others speak of seven-year cycles. A mature industry typically reduces production cost 3% per year. also move in time cycles. Our operators are the keys to meeting the levels of consistency that are required to be competitive.1. Forty percent of the world ethylene capacity is now from 10 producers. Information Management is essential for the organization to have the “right” information to the “right” people at the “right” time. Titan must also constantly improve. Current Views Almost every aspect of life has a time cycle. The current energy usage is 40% of original plants. The driving forces for these changes are that petrochemicals are now world commodities. employment. therefore world competitive performance is required. Today the requirements are that we maintain higher environmental and safety standards. some of the majors may have twenty ethylene plants giving them an experience advantage. This improves the experience curve of producers. Projections are that 2002 onward may be good years. 1998 to the present have not been good. of which the ethylene market is a member. The first change is that technology is improving. Your health. and relationships move in time cycles. Financial Markets. The size of plants is increasing helping reduce unit cost. The third change in the Petrochemical Industry is the Corporate Structural Changes. There are several changes that are presently occurring in the Petrochemical Industry due to the fact that the products are becoming worldbased commodities. finances. In the past two years we have seen many mergers and acquisitions resulting in improved Corporate Structural efficiency. Because our competitors are constantly improving. as shown in the energy reduction.

costs cannot be paid and eventually.A. in a free market. not Price • • • • The goal of being in any business is to make a profit If a profit is not made. Market Outlook Short Term Price Factors • • • • • • Inventory movement Plant outages Change in major feedstock price Anticipation of new capacity Seasonal expectations Market psychology Long Term Price Factors • • • • Cost of production Economic cycle Technology Regional trade balances Profitably is the Goal. the business fails A measure of profitability in the petrochemicals business is the “cash margin” Cash margin is defined as the difference between price and cash costs B. Current Expansions .

8 Million 0. Ethylene Plant Economics A. and heat exchangers are all rated for 115. normally you would expect a higher return.0 Million 10. B. above 10%.8 Million 1. as are most things in life. Because the chemical business is cyclical. Many plants can process 120% because the main vendor used a 10% safety factor.0 Million 12. This shows that when the market is good. It is not sufficient to just make money in the good markets alone.4 Million 6. you need to get very good returns because the lean times are comings. Therefore the vendors design their portion of the plant with a safety margin. towers.0 Million 3.8 Million 1. If this money were placed in a bank you could expect to receive about 6% interest with no risk. This means that the pumps.8 Million 7. The cooling tower is rated for 10% above the heat exchangers and should be designed for 127%. .0 Million 3. some years are good and some years are not so good.2. Year 1 2 3 4 Total At 6% 1.5%. typically of 10%.7 Million Even with the good year of 6.0 Million the total is below the 10% return of 12 Million. General Investment A 300 KTA would cost on the order of US$300 Million. Plant Capacity Each part of the plant has a guarantee of performance with an associated monetary penalty if the guarantee is not met.8 Million 1.0 Million 3. If an investment were at risk.5 Million 2. but most other vendors used 10%. compressors.0 Million Varies 1. In some areas Process Designers only used 5%.2 Million At 10% 3.

these two high value products should be maximized. Generally. C2H6 = C2H4 + H2 . which is also true in most organizations. The true objective of the plant is to make money. Remember. Where is the Money Spent? C. Sometimes energy savings and profit are inversely related.A cost cutting program in an ethylene plant of a multi-national corporation in Baton Rouge. and remember the reaction can go each way. Where the money is made in an Ethylene Plant? Where the money is made in an ethylene plant is the production of ethylene and propylene. . Reviewing cost is a major function of a manager. Louisiana resulted in the plant going from US$10 million per month in profit to break even. and where the money is spent. On a simple basis product yield is. A. Where is the Money Lost? There is a saying in politics. The yield of ethylene went down and plant lost money. Therefore the main way to reduce cost in an ethylene plant is to reduce these two items.3. it is not a cost. “Follow the Money”. Example . The two largest expenditures in an Ethylene Plant are the feed and fuel. Improve the recovery of products from your feed at a lower fuel cost. Any time we do not make the money that we are capable of – that is money lost. A 10% cut in expenditures in all areas normally results in less money being generated. Where is the Money Made? B. Many managers are confused in what is the objective of an operating plant. is survey to see where the money is made. as a manager. if an expenditure is making money. They decided to raise the suction pressure of the cracked gas machine to save steam cost. These two items account for 90% of the total operating cost. The first thing you should do. Many think that the object of the plant is to produce “x” tons of plant product. Many managers only look at where the money is spent and try to cut total cost. Follow the Money A. Not every time is maximum rate of product equal to the maximum profit. This knowledge will often change how we will run the plant. We are only using the plant as a vehicle to obtain our true objective.

B. For each one degree C we are away from the optimum Coil Outlet Temperature we lose opportunity dollars. Things that effect the yield of ethylene and propylene are. For each ton of feed. and has a yield profile from which a dollar value of each feedstock can be generated. The lower this number the lower feed stock cost. For our feed rates.000 per year. if we are 5 degrees away from the optimum we lose US $1. Proper Feedstock Selection Feed stocks are chosen based on the ratio of their components. The landed cost minus the yield value is called the Net Feedstock Cost. . The further we are away the larger the difference.00 per hour and US $8. The better-feed stocks have a high paraffin composition. which are 191 tons per hour. this is US $1. A.528.000 per year. which is the cost to reach the dock. Each feedstock has a landed cost. High reaction temperatures lead to low yields due to the recombination of ethylene and propylene to by products such as Py Gas and Fuel Oil.An overall correlation of how the plant is performing is the olefin to naphtha ratio. Low reaction temperature lead to low yields. Proper Reaction Temperature – COT Reaction Temperature should be chosen on the basis of high value products.

04 362.16 0.23 0.37 0.16 0.04 358.00 0.17 0.04 362.00 0.23 0.00 0.00 0.16 0.39 0.20 0.31 810.40 0.22 0.21 0.50 0.22 0.00 0.04 360.19 0.20 820.00 0.18 0.36 0.86 0.00 0.00 0.90 850.21 0.95 1.61 0.22 0.00 0.16 1.00 0.38 0.00 0.44 .04 362.82 860.16 0.43 1.04 360.19 0.09 830.16 0.Effect Of Coil Outlet Temperature Severity COT Hydrogen Fuel Gas Ethylene Propylene Py Gas Fuel Oil Yield Value 1.00 0.20 0.20 0.39 0.00 0.17 0.04 361.16 0.99 840.00 0.40 0.42 800.

0% 0.0% $364 40.0% 20.0% $363 35.0% $362 30.0% $360 15.Effect Of Coil Outlet Temperature 45.0% $358 5.0% $357 790 800 PyGas 810 820 Fuel Gas Fuel Oil 830 840 Ethylene 850 860 Propylene 870 Hydrogen Yield Value .0% $359 10.0% $361 25.

This 0.1 19.2 53.34 34. reaction pressure should be low to favor the production of the two products.7 19.0 19.5 18.7 0. but it is a small debit compared to the increase in yields.36 34.0 53.10 per hour and US $904.6 18.8 0.6 7.94 $351.4 0. There is more energy required in the compressor by lowering the suction pressure. high pressure is wanted to shift the process to the smaller volume.1 kg/cm2 we lower the suction pressure the yield of the high value products improves.1 8. Reduce Reaction Pressure – CGC Suction Pressure Because we are going from one feed to two products.6 19.53 $350.4 19.1 kg/cm2 drop equates to US $113.800 per year.9 0.02 -$0.7 19.67 -$0.1 $350.5 18.33 . When we wish to go from two feeds to one product.9 8.47 -$1.3 19.5 18.6 18.1 53.7 54.8 53.38 34.9 53. Furnace – Effect of CGC Suction Pressure CGC Suction Pressure Ethylene Yield (%) Propylene Yield (%) HPG Yield (%) Fuel Gas Yield (%) Fuel Oil Yield (%) Ethylene + Propylene wt% Per ton of naphtha Potential Yield value Yield Value Loss USMM /yr 0.8 7.7 18.11 $352.4 19.5 0.9 19.74 $352.32 34.9 19.2 19.39 -$1.35 $351. For each 0.30 34.7 7.0 8.8 19.C.76 -$1.40 34. as in the Acetylene Converters.

36 0.Effect of CGC Suction Pressure 54.2 $353 54.38 0.3 0.9 $352 53. kg/cm2g Ethylene + Propylene w t% Potential Yield value .32 0.28 0.1 $353 54.4 53.5 $351 53.0 53.34 0.6 $351 53.42 $350 CGC Suction Pressure.40 0.8 Yield $352 53.7 53.30 0.

54 14. Design SOR is 0.50 $ 358.57 4.9 18.5 on was worth US $567.11 5656 0.5 39.48 5.7 20.33 5658 $ 356.39 $ 370.000 per year.7 19.84 7.44 37. From the high load test data the increased value of going from 0.79 14. one way to shift the products is to reduce the ratio of products by adding an inert to dilute the system.35 18.6 5516 0. By raising the steam to oil ratio the high value product yield can be increased.D.36 21. In an ethylene plant the inert that is added is steam.17 15.15 18.72 $ 365.66 18.74 .19 9.48 41.37 5340 0. Reduce Concentration of Products – Steam to Oil Ratio Because the reaction can go each way.06 21.19 20.50 Furnace – Effect of Steam to Oil Ratio from High Load Test Data SOR Ethylene Yield (%) Propylene Yield (%) HPG Yield (%) Fuel Gas Yield (%) Fuel Oil Yield (%) SEV (kcal/kgC2H4) Per ton of naphtha Yield value 0.00 per hour and US $4.4 37.79 5610 0.48 13.46 39.536.82 16.31 $ 367.4 to 0.83 5.02 20.

44 SOR Ethylene Yield (%) Fuel Gas Yield (%) Propylene Yield (%) Fuel Oil Yield (%) HPG Yield (%) Yield value 0.46 0.4 0.42 0.48 0.38 $372 $370 $368 $366 $364 $362 $360 $358 $356 $354 0.5 0.52 Yield .Effect of Steam to Oil Ratio 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 0.

Improve the recovery of products from your feed at a lower fuel cost.00.500.000. Typically furnaces should have about 4% excess O2. Any excess air that is in the furnace has to be heated to the reaction temperature and them a portion of that heat is then vent out the stack. If we are running 6% high this equates to $75. Because air is 21% oxygen and 79% nitrogen for each 1% excess O2 that is introduced to the furnace there is 4% excess N2. Therefore the main way to reduce cost in an ethylene plant is to reduce these two items. These two items account for 90% of the total operating cost.82 per hour or US$ 334. additional steam to be required in each of the three compressors along with loss of unit capacity.560. which could be based on a Nox limit. 2.56 per hour or US $12. Reduce Recycles 1. In our furnaces each 1% of excess air results in an energy loss of US $1. Where the money is spent in an Ethylene Plant? The two largest expenditures in an Ethylene Plant are the feed and fuel. A.B. and boilers should have about 2% O2 air. additional steam to be required in the CGC compressor . C2 And C3 Recycles Any excess C2 or C3 Recycles causes additional fuel to be utilized in the furnace. Both of excess components the are vented via the stack at 200 degrees C.00 per year. There are several ways to reduce fuel cost. C4 Recycle Any excess C4 Recycle causes additional fuel to be utilized in the furnace. B.00 per year for each furnace. greatly reducing the efficiency of the furnace. Proper Fuel Air Ratios in Furnaces and Boilers The proper fuel to air ratio in furnaces and boilers can reduce fuel consumption. Not counting the unit capacity loss. the per ton energy loss is US$ 41.

200 per year.000. C.876 per year.29 per hour or US $83. which the energy gain for is US $21.36 per hour or US $266.29 per hour or US $83. For year 2000 at two tons per hour. BOG Re-treatment Any Boil Off Gas re-treatment from the Ethylene Storage Tanks causes additional steam to be required in each of the three compressors along with loss of unit capacity. it does not include any capacity gain. Expander The expander is designed to reduce the ERC energy usage by 10%. 3.00 per year. this was approximately US $166.000. 2. Not counting the unit capacity loss.00. 4. Proper Reflux Ratios An increased reflux ratio results in increased energy usage particularly where refrigeration is used for the cooling medium. the per ton energy loss is US $10.000.00. Utilized Designed Energy Savings 1. Maximize the use of higher levels when possible. .00 per year.90 per hour or US $175. or the downgrade in value of the ethylene loss to fuel gas. the per ton energy loss is US$ 10. the per ton energy loss is US $33. This is steam saving alone.along with loss of unit capacity. Not counting the unit capacity loss. For year 2000 at 700 tons this was approximately US $5. A survey should be done on each system and the reflux ratio optimized. 3.000. Not counting the unit capacity loss. Use higher level refrigeration when possible Higher levels of refrigeration are more economical.800. Off Test Re-treatment Any off test re-treatment causes additional steam to be required in each of the three compressors along with loss of unit capacity.

There is money that could be made but is not produced for a variety of reasons. whereas Fuel Gas has a value of around US $250 per ton. Steam work is from temperature Because the work from steam is from the temperature. Using extraction versus the steam letdown stations. Py Gas to Fuel Oil Py Gas has a value of around US $250 per ton. it is approaching 2 tons per hour. The flare tip is over one meter in diameter. This loss is US $5. This is one area where lost opportunity dollars can be .280 per year per furnace. The designed value of SHP Steam is 500 degrees C. A. B. which is US $45. is a direct energy gain. 5. Fuel Gas to Flare Fuel Gas has a value of around US $250 per ton. Ethylene to Fuel Gas Ethylene has a value of around US $500 per ton. 3.4. therefore to be able to see a flame on the tip. Use steam extraction when possible The use of steam extraction to produce HP Steam reduces boiler loads. Where money is lost in an Ethylene Plant? There are lost opportunity dollars in every plant. If the SHP Steam temperature is 495 degrees C this results in a loss of total ability to do work. 2. C. which uses attemperated water to reduce the temperature. whereas Fuel Oil has a value of around US $150 per ton. Product Down Grade 1. whereas anything to the flare has no value.66 per hour per furnace. Analyzer Reliability Many times the ability to optimize the plant is based on the reliability of your analyzers. In an ethylene plant there are several areas where lost opportunity dollars could be recovered. minimize the effect of the attemperator value to their designed value.

00 per year.1% of increased propylene purity the loss amounts to US $120.60%. The goal is to convert acetylene to ethylene. For example the propylene product specification is 99. Capacity Gain . If they are greater than a 1% absolute error the analyzer should be calibrated. of ethylene of about 200 kg per hour. First is to confirm that you are meeting specifications. Acetylene Reactors over Conversion Because the reaction can go each way. In an actual sense this is a loss of opportunity because propane could be sold at propylene prices and the propane recycle could be reduced. It is possible to convert ethylene to ethane in the Acetylene Reactors if temperature is too high.50%.recovered. When the sample is caught the analyzer result should be recorded and when the lab sample results are returned they should be compared to the recorded analyzer results.” The goal of the blending group was to produce a product that “just good enough” to meet the sell specifications.70% the cost is even greater. If the purity is allowed to go up to 99. To prevent an off specification scenario. C. The activation energy of acetylene is lower than the activation energy of ethylene and there is a temperature window in which the conversion of acetylene is possible without the conversion of ethylene. Lab samples have two functions. which does not include the saving through reduced propane recycle. For each 0. The motto of one blending group where one of the authors worked was. above the expected or designed value. but this has an associated cost. D.00 per year. which is a net monetary gain. which is worth US $30. This temperature window is the desired operating range. E. Proper Product Concentration In most chemical plants there is a blending group to optimize product that the group sells.00 per hour and US $240. “Just Good Enough. The second should be to daily check the analyzer. it might be advisable to run at 99. The analyzers should be calibrated on a scheduled basis with the product analyzers being calibrated more frequently. Presently we are over converting on each cracker with an additional loss. This window increases with catalyst age but still exist at end of run conditions. the Acetylene Reactors are where money can be made or lost.624. C2H6 = C2H4 + H2 .000.

A good rule of thumb is that the company you work for should see three to five times your salary in improvements from you. The are trained for the task. If this group cannot be motivated to improve they should be reduced in size.Several times the capacity gain loss has been mentioned. Wages verses Productivity Many people worry about their rate of pay. The value of one ton of capacity is US $150. Engineering Based Human Resources There are always several types of people in any company and you try to motivate them to improve. you will be noticed and your wage will be increased.000.00 per hour or US $1. If you are producing much higher than five times your salary.00 per month and are producing $200.00 per month you are underpaid. A person that is able to perform and will to perform. Many people fall into category two.00 per month and are producing RM $3. Willing Able Not Able Not Willing 1 3 2 4 The type of employee that is wanted is category one. 4. They feel that they are underpaid. The are not trained for the task.000. The third category is the most dangerous. but more than willing to perform without knowing the consequences. One way to look at people is like this. If you are not producing at least your salary the company cannot afford to keep you no matter how low your rate of pay.000. If you are paid RM $40. . The last group is the not able and not willing.000. but unwilling to perform without extra motivation. Part of the reason they are not able is their unwillingness to learn.2000.00 you are overpaid.000 per year. If I am paid RM $4. They are trained for the task and willing to safely perform the task. A.

high safety incidents and major accidents. Category two are important things. From an industrial viewpoint these include low productivity.5. and employee feedback. If these are neglected they become category one items. They include simple things like . Neglect these items and they will move to category one. You relationship with your family is important but not urgent. and relationship problems with family members. neglect it and it will become urgent. Category three is urgent but not important. There are four types of task and we should analyze our tasks and determine in which category we are spending our time. and excessive chatting with other friends and employees. They include answering the phone. neglect it and you will be looking at a different lifestyle. Category four is not urgent and not important. which is loss of capital. Your health is important but not urgent. They are urgent and important. loss of employment. They are normally considered crisis. attending unnecessary meetings. neglect it long enough you will be looking for new employment. Personal Time Management One of the first tasks of any manager is to prioritize areas of importance. but not urgent. listening to sale calls. Effective Management A. Urgent Important Not Important Not Urgent 1 3 2 4 Category one items tend to take care of themselves. on the job training programs. From an industrial viewpoint these include safety programs. Your ongoing education is important but not urgent. They can include major sickness to you or close family members.

check the level in his Knock-Out Pots and other vessels. If a manger doubles his hours at work he has improved the company productivity by forty hours. Managers are the coaches. Making a round to check the unit. The problem for most people is that very little time is spent in category two and these items over time will turn into crisis. If he has 20 employees and can improve their productivity by 10 hours per week. . Often the managers think they are the players and this hurts the overall team effort. the next gain is 200 hours. How we do the small task sets standard for the large task. all of his compressor. Here is a small list of important details. fill out the daily log sheets. and the employees are the players. To find a motor that is starting to have the bearings wear out and replace the bearings is a large cost saving compared to damaging the rotor and stator. fill out the regeneration log sheets set a tone for how we do each job. It is more important to set up an atmosphere where your employees can perform. playing computer and video games. than for you to work 80 hours per week. Set up an Atmosphere where your Employees can perform Often managers think that by working harder they can make a difference in the company. To notice that the pressure profile around a strainer is increasing and to be able to plan the job on routine maintenance versus overtime maintenance is a cost savings. How we make our rounds. B. As a manager it is more important for you to remove obstacles from the field than to try to take the ball. We need to analyze our time and reduce category three and four.watching TV. we can then expect the larger task to be completed correctly. surfing on the Internet and recreational reading. C. If we insist the small day-to-day task are done. For an operator to earn five times his salary he must find problems in the unit when they are small. the team looses the game. Often in basketball when an individual record is set. which requires rebuilding the motor. Details are Important The small everyday tasks are very important. He should look at all of his pumps. An operator should check his area with a visual walk around every two hours. 1. before they become larger.

Checking a pump A. if applicable. C. D. you will learn what the average value should be. Secondly. Decoking and other Log Sheets . and are able to report any differences from the normal reading. Any change in the sound should be reported to his supervisor and the supervisor should have a mechanic review the pump. a record of the normal procedures need to be kept. If you write a reading down on a sheet daily. Any differences should be recorded and major level difference should be calibrated. and decoke a furnace can return many times their salary. The first thing the operator should notice is the sound. After several days he should know what the normal motor and pump sound should be. B. 4. 5. it should be reported and repaired. He should review the pump seal and any leakage should be reported.2. E. Within the first hour of shift he should report every level in his area to the boardman to compare the outside level with the level recorded on the board. 3. The second thing the operator should do is to place his hand on the motor to check the motor vibrations and temperature. Regeneration. Any change from normal should be reported. To properly regenerate a dryer or reactor.This is one place where an operator can make many time their salary in cost savings. When a pump requires excess amounts of oil. Outside Readings – Each outside operator should be required to take a set of readings each four hours for two reasons. He should review the barrier seal fluid. If a procedure has a needed revision the record of the past several regenerations can be reviewed and corrections made to the procedure. the operator has walked in all of his areas to collect the reading and should be able to report any abnormalities in his area. Next he should review each oil level and add as necessary. To insure that the procedure is corrected when needed. and report if the color of the seal fluid changes. . The first is that you learn what the normal value should be.

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