IRPC ’13: Refiners target hydrogen for clean fuels, upgrading projects

By Stephany Romanow
Editor

NEW DELHI -- The global demand for hydrogen continues to increase. How this demand will be met was the topic in the IRPC 2013 presentation by Sanjiv Ratan, an official with Technip Stone & Webster's process technology business.

The increased need for hydrogen is spurred by growing demand for cleaner transportation fuels and upgrading of "opportunity" crudes, he said. Refiners are challenged to convert the bottom of the barrel into higher-value products.

Mr. Ratan stressed that hydrogen is a refinery asset, adding that refiners should focus on refinery margins and less on costs.

One option to meet future hydrogen demand is the concept of the mega-hydrogen plant, which are single train facilities of 100 to 200 kNm3. The refinery Hy-Way, though, has several technical issues to resolve.

A major concern is the tight natural gas supplies needed for hydrogen plants and the need improve reliability, availability and maintenance (RAM), which impact operations.

Global hydrogen demand will increase from 128 bcmy in 2001 to 245.5 bcmy by 2021, Mr. Ratan said. Much of new hydrogen will come from China and India, with both nations more than tripling their present hydrogen levels, he said.

Hydrogen is available in refinery fuel gas. Technip noted that it has management product HyN DT (hydrogen network design tool) that provides guidance in cost-effectively identifying hydrogen resources in fuel gas.

In hydrogen plants, switching from naphtha to natural gas provides benefits too. Natural gas is a cheaper feed. Other processing bonuses include lower carbon dioxide emissions along with improved operations.

The other option, Mr. Ratan said, is making hydrogen through a mega H2 facility. The Mega H2 facility uses a single train to capture economies of scale over a smaller, two-train unit, he said.

The installed costs are less and the unit requires a small footprint. The facility turn down is more efficient as well, given the high energy efficiencies with the single train.

Whatever the solution, Mr. Ratan believes the growing refining landscape and its emerging needs, especially in Asia, call for concerted strategies for ensuring H2 availability efficiently and cost-effectively. 

In modern high-conversion integrated refineries, the need for hydrogen can be satisfied starting with judicious hydrogen management, followed by a potential capacity revamp of existing H2 plants, he said.

Eventually, that can lead to efficient and reliable H2 generation, furthered by adopting a ‘buy’ mode via over-the-fence supply.For full coverage of IRPC 2013, visit the HPInformer blog.

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