October 2012

Special Report: Process Control and Information Systems

Update hydrocracking reactor controls for improved reliability

The industry consultant believes auto-quench, excursion control and bed-outlet layers should join auto-depressure as industry-best practice for all hydrocrackers.

Kern, A.G., Consultant

At present, hydrocarbon pricing pays strong dividends for hydrocracking (HC), which leverages low-cost hydrogen (H2), sourced from today’s abundant natural gas supply, into high-value liquid fuels. Among hydroprocessing (HP) units, HC units have the greatest H2 uptake, with a typical liquid volume swell of 10%. This earns in the range of $100 million (MM) per year for a 30,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) HC unit based on volume swell alone, in addition to the usual value upgrade of HC conversion. As a result, hydrocrackers—which are already one of the hydrocarbon processing industry’s most demanding process control challenges—are being pushed to greater limits. HC reactors op

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