HOFCC Splitter Reboiler Cleaned in Record Time

Our client’s refining and petrochemical facility is home to the world's largest high olefins fluid catalytic converter (HOFCC) unit. The HOFCC unit converts both heavy and light oils to gasoline and a wide range of other refined distillates. In addition, homo polypropylene (PP), block PP, and propylene oxide (PO), a raw material for urethane, are produced from propylene which is supplied from the HOFCC. The system was designed to only require one exchanger to operate the process while the second exchanger is utilized as a standby exchanger until the in-service exchanger loses efficiency, requiring operations to switch to the standby exchanger. Utilizing their on-site contractor, which provides 20,000 PSI and 40,000 PSI conventional hydro blasting methods, the client generally spends up to 60 days cleaning the once in-service exchanger while the standby exchanger is in-service. On some occurrences the client wasn't able to achieve 100% cleaning of all the tubes due to the amount of fouling and toughness of the accumulation resulting in the client having to take a complete unit shutdown because the exchangers did not provide enough heat transfer to run the process.

The client approached us to provide a solution that would reduce the total cleaning time normally required while achieving a level of cleanliness that would meet the requirement to enable them to perform IRIS Inspection. Due to the nature of the process, we proposed a two-step cleaning process solution. The first step would be to utilize the Hydrokinetics cleaning method to quickly unplug and remove the majority of scale and accumulation from the tubes followed by a rotating tube lance system to polish the tubes — ultimately providing a much faster turnover of the cleaning process.

The combination of the two cleaning methods resulted in an acceptable cleaning level that met the requirement for IRIS Inspection with no re-cleaning necessary — a first for the client that such level of cleanliness was achieved on the initial inspection — reducing the total cleaning time from an average of 56 days to just 10 days utilizing just one Hydrokinetics unit. Now that the cleaning can be performed in far less time than in the past; it has eliminated the occurrences that resulted in requiring the unit to completely shut down enabling the unit to switch in between exchangers as originally designed.