No one will argue that insulating process piping and equipment isn't a smart choice for industry—energy is conserved and personnel are protected. But when that insulation breaks down due to heat, water or mechanical abuse, the disadvantages go beyond just increased energy consumption. A recent experience with a US refinery is a good example of how the right choice of insulation can provide immediate, tangible benefits to operations.
The Hidden Costs of Under-Performing Insulation
The feed lines to this refinery’s coker furnace were insulated to maintain a stable feed temperature of around 650°F. The coker furnace would then heat this feed to a temperature of around 905°F. Operations had noticed that the feed temperature would drop whenever it would rain, as the incumbent insulation absorbed water and lost performance.
In order to maintain consistent outlet conditions, refinery operations were forced to over-fire the furnace. The extra load resulted in an increased frequency of furnace tube cleanings. Furnace tubes required clean-outs every one to two months; the resulting downtime was negatively impacting throughput. Clearly a change was needed to limit further financial penalties, and the team at Aspen Aerogels was delighted to step up.
The Immediate, Measurable Difference
Pyrogel HPS is engineered to withstand the enemies of insulation, heat, mechanical abuse, and water ingress. The newest insulation product in the Pyrogel family, Pyrogel HPS also has the lowest thermal conductivity at high temperatures. It is 10% to 20% lower than other Pyrogel insulations, and 50% to 60% lower than other insulation used in the temperature range from 650°F to 1200°F.
After reinsulating the furnace feed lines with Pyrogel, the temperatures stabilized and are now easily maintained through snow, sleet, and rain. This has reduced the load on the furnace, and increased the mean time between furnace tube clean-outs to five to six months.
As a result, this refinery is now looking to better maintain the outlet temperature from the furnace to the coke drums—an area that sees frequent mechanical abuse due to water hammer—and which can benefit from the efficiency and durability of Pyrogel HPS at high temperatures.
Where else can Pyrogel HPS help stabilize your processes?
Do the temperatures on your high-temperature process lines fluctuate more than they should? Do they seem to be losing more heat than normal? Or do you have areas close to personnel that no longer maintain the proper touch temperatures? If you answered yes to any of these, it could be time to install insulation that lasts. It’s time to install Pyrogel HPS.
Read more about Pyrogel HPS for Delayed Coker Units
Richard Schmidt is one of Aspen Aerogels' process SME's. He travels the world to help owners get the most from their delayed coker units. Richard focuses on the vital role of insulation for meeting process targets.