Our Case Studies

Crude Units

Case Study # C81Pre-heat Trains

As part of a 120,000 BPD Crude Unit Revamp, TTC Labs installed our Terminal Velocity Process or the pre-heat train. During the 5 year run, the cleaning of each exchanger dropped from quarterly to zero.

To optimize the velocity and flow rates, several of the old exchangers were replaced; some were re-tubed and some just re-piped. No new pumps were needed or added. An inspection after 5 years of continues operation revealed that none of the exchangers needed to be cleaned. . In addition to savings in maintenance costs, the unit’s annual capacity was increase by over 5%, the CIT increased and energy costs were lowered with the Terminal Velocity Process in operation.

Case Study # C52Crude Unit Revamp

A US Refinery contracted with TTC Lab to evaluate the cost – benefit of a proposed Crude Unit revamp under consideration. The proposed design was prepared by a major contractor and then checked by another engineering firm. Neither company recognized the fouling issues in the pre-heat train that created problems in the Atmospheric Tower.

Both firms missed the opportunity to make much cleaner HVGO for the FCC unit. TTC added another pumparound on the atmospheric column, stopped the withdrawal of IVGO in the vacuum column and used our Terminal Velocity Process in the pre-heat train. These changes reduce the proposed CapEx cost of the revamp by 67%. The increase in energy efficiency and improved product quality and yields for the FCC alone were sufficient to pay for the entire Crude Unit revamp in less than two years even after paying a modest royalty.

Case Study # C63Atmospheric Columns

The flooding in a 75,000 BPD Crude Distillation Tower was the bottleneck for an entire refinery. The refiner had contracted with several large engineering firms to provide an answer for the bottleneck. The engineering firms all recommended installing a new Atmospheric Column. The refiner asked TTC to study the proposals and make a recommendation.

The TTC crude unit experts resolved the bottleneck by converting the kero pumpdown to a pumparound. The necessary connections were hot tapped and a new nozzle was installed on a manway cover. In an elapsed time of 6 weeks and with zero downtime, the capacity of the entire refinery was increased by over 10%. The flooding in the atmospheric tower was eliminated without the costly CapEx or refinery shut down needed to install a new Tower.

Case Study # C24Vacuum Column

A Gulf Coast refinery had scheduled to shut down it’s refinery permanently because of a low crude rate and lack of profitability. The refinery engaged TTC Labs in a final attempt to save the refinery and the jobs of its employees.

By installing our Black Plasma™ process in the VDU, TTC was able to increase their capacity by 30% from 100,000 to 130,000 BPD. The increased value of the incremental products from the FCC alone paid for the entire Crude Unit revamp (including a modest royalty payment) in about one year.

The Terminal Velocity process was used in the pre-heat train with the same shells and pumps and the same fired heaters. The heat exchangers system performance showed a 25% improved heat transfer and no fouling after 5 years. These two TTC changes created a higher crude rate along with substantial profits and the facility is still in full operation today.

Case Study # C75Vacuum Column – FCC

A European refinery was dealing with a problem in their Cat Cracker (FCC). The decision was made to engage well-known engineering company to provide a major revamp for the FCC unit. The proposed cost of the project was in excess of $98 million dollars. The refinery was a past client of TTC Labs and they decided to have TTC review the new proposal and study their FCC problem.

After an on site inspection and analysis of the data, TTC created a solution for the problem using the Black Plasma™ process and the Terminal Velocity process. These designs were installed at the cost of less than $3 million dollars and the Cat Cracker was back a peak operation, saving $95 million dollars in CapEx.

A recent turnaround was completed after 5 years of operation; they did a quick chemical wash and then went inside. Everything was clean and there was no evidence of coke. This is in contrasts to the previous turnaround done for our revamp where the wash bed and packing were totally coked up and collector trays had to be removed with jackhammers.

The Black Plasma™ process reduced resid in the HVGO product delivering a cleaner product to the FCC as well as increasing the yield by over 10%.

Aromatics Units

Case Study # A31Para Xylene Production

An overseas refiner found that the purity of px was declining and contracted for a high cost site visit and engineering study from the licensor. The study recommended changing adsorbents. The refiner contacted TTC Labs for a second opinion.

TTC engineers found that the rotor plate was lifting during a short part of the cycle. By installing a programmable controller on the dome seal and applying slightly more pressure during a short portion of the time, the purity of the px improved substantially and there was no need to reload the adsorbent. TTC Labs was able to save the refiner the cost of two months of downtime worth $2 million and an addition $6 million in cost of the adsorbent.

Case Study # A42BTX Extraction

An International Refiner was plagued by decreasing recovery from an extraction unit. The catalysts licensor recommended a higher flow rate of solvent and consequently higher consumption of energy. Before these changes were initiated the refiner contacted TTC Labs to review the problem.

Using the model for trays in the extractor, the TTC team found that the problem was mal-distribution. With just a one-day shutdown, TTC Labs engineers were able to fix the problem, the recovery and capacity of extraction were better than when the unit was new, and the consumption of energy dropped to an all-time low. Consulting with TTC Labs saved the refiner $5 million in excessive cost of solvent and down time. They lowered their operating costs and raised their feed rate 10% with a minimum engineering costs.

When an aromatics complex needs answers and solutions, contacting TTC Labs first is always the best action you can take. TTC Labs Consulting delivers the most value for your money and saves you down time and money.

Reformer Units

Case Study # R31CCR Reformer

A Midwest refiner’s motor fuel Reforming unit was experiencing declining C5+ yields. After receiving the results of their catalyst vendor’s study, which recommended using a slightly higher concentration of CI on the regenerated catalyst, the refiner engaged TTC Labs Consulting to review their problem.

TTC Labs engineers used our “Reformer Window” to determine that yield would actually be improved by using less CI on the catalyst. That change was made and the following updates on the yield vectors in the LP showed an increase of 3% in the production of gasoline for the refinery while saving additional operating costs. This refiner now subscribes to the TTC “Reformer Window” program to keep the their operation optimized and to evaluate new catalysts.

Case Study # R22Cyclic Reformer

A Gulf Coast refinery received a new regeneration schedule for their Cyclic Reformer from their catalyst vendor. Because of previous engineering success with TTC Labs the refiner decided to confirm the data with TTC.

TTC engineers used our “Reformer Window” to determine a proper regeneration schedule. The schedule was modified and the CI target was changed which increased the C5+ yield 2LV% at a slightly higher severity. This refiner now subscribes to the TTC “Reformer Window” program to assure their engineers have the ability to review and adjust the performance of the reformer without waiting on vendor’s best guess to operate a peak performance.

Case Study # R13Semi-Regen Reformer

A large East Coast Refiner was considering a proposal from a catalyst vendor to increase yield by reducing pressure to exploit the lower coke make with a new catalysis. . The proposal required a new plate exchanger to replace the existing shell-and-tube exchangers in combined feed service.

The refiner contacted TTC Labs because of our reputation as the leading process engineering company in Reforming. The TTC design was able to achieve even better yield results and only required re-tubing and re-piping the existing train, and changing the direction of the fans on the products cooler. The TTC design saved the refiner the $5 million cost of demolition for the existing CFE’s, a month of costly down time and the $2 million Cap Ex expense of a new plate exchanger.

With the constant increased demand for higher octane contacting TTC for your reformer projects is the best way to increase your yields and control costs.

Onsite Services

Case Study # S21Troubleshooting

A 250,000 BPD Gulf Coast refinery in the US extracts aromatics from reformate. On a startup, the products were on total circulation because the extract and raffinate were off-spec. The advice from the licensor did not seem to help and the refinery continued in circulation mode with no saleable production. TTC was called and our SME specialist arrived that same evening, had supper with one of the engineers, figured out the cause, changed the process target and fixed the problem that night. After several weeks of being off-spec and in circulation mode, the unit was making product by midnight.

Case Study # S12Optimization

In a TTC Labs profit study for a large Asian refinery, TTC discovered that the yield vectors for jet fuel and gasoline were incorrect, and the resulting values for octane and gasoline yields were also incorrect. The original yield vectors were based on the design guarantee test run information from the vendor and were wrong. The actual ongoing yields were not as reported. Because the operating targets from the LP (Linear Program) were based on the original incorrect yields; the data used to update the models were never far enough from the targets for the LP vectors to get the proper correction.

Using the TBP’s of the crudes, the logic of the cut points between jet and diesel were revised. Using the TTC Reformer Window Program, the error in the hydrogen balance and other yield problems were identified. Correcting the errors led to changing the operation for both the Crude Unit and the Reforming Unit outside of the historical bounds. New data was collected and the vectors in the models adjusted based on the Reformer Window Program. The resulting change in products increased the gross margin of the refinery by almost 20%.

Case Study # S43Optimization – Heater Replacement

A major Gulf Coast Refiner was planning to replace their aging 200 million BTU Crude Unit Heater. They hired TTC to do a process study and proposal for the purchasing of a new heater. TTC completed a full study on sizing and engineering for the heater. The project indicated approximately a $50 million dollar heater installation CapEx package.

The Refiner elected to use a local contractor working with their in house process engineering team. In consultation between the refiner’s engineers and the contractor the TTC plan was altered and the cost rose to $75 million dollars and added a year to the timetable.

The Refiner contacted TTC again to review and study the new design because this was a major decision and there could be no mistakes. The Refiner needed to be sure the proper heater size was selected and the processing capacity design would provide for the refineries future needs. After numerous meetings and design reviews, TTC provided a new design that would not only improved the new heater’s performance but saved the Refiner $20 million dollars in CapEx for this project. This heater project uses the TTC Terminal Velocity process for the heat exchangers to produce dramatic heat gain efficiencies.

Case Study # S34Process Schools – 20 Simple moneymaking ideas

In 2016 a major Gulf Coast refiner that specializes in Aromatics engaged TTC Labs Consulting to provide a 3 day engineering and training seminar for their engineers and operators. The three days of classes produced over 33 separate items that can be easily implemented and that will increase volume, profit and safety at the refineries.

As usually happens in TTC Process Schools, about 20 of these ideas require no cost to implement, jut a change in procedure or instrumentation. The other 13 items require a very low cost to reap significant improvement in profits and performance.

The implementation of just one of these ideas has more than paid for the entire cost of the classes seminar. This includes the cost for TTC plus the overtime and salaries for the operators and engineers.

The refinery management heard about the success of the TTC Labs Training Seminar and now wants to schedule another session a month later so that management can also attend with their engineers and operators to receive more training from TTC. The $25,000 cost for this training and information makes a Seminar Session from TTC the best cost/benefit bargain in the refining industry.

Case Study # S56Profit Programs

After a couple of successful revamps, a 100,000 BPD refinery in Europe commissioned TTC to do a small Profit Study to increase profits without any capital cost. After modeling several key units and the making a stand-alone model for the product pools, TTC found that another $25 million per year could be harvested by:

  1. Changing the cut points in the Crude and Coker Units,
  2. Adjusting the severities at the FCC and Coking Units,
  3. Replacing a couple of control valves,
  4. Taking a shorter catalyst life on the DHT.

These changes were completed in 3 months from the start of the project. The extra margin includes the cost of the shorter catalyst life. With a more modern catalyst after the reload, the extra margin increased again. When a new supply of hydrogen was justified, the additional margin increased a third time.

Using the TTC methodology with minimal support from TTC, the refinery now does their own Profit Programs annually and continues to find attractive opportunities to increase profits.