August 2017

Special Focus: Fluid Flow and Rotating Equipment

Troubleshooting vacuum operation of an inter-after condenser unit in an ethylene plant

A system of compressors powered by surface condensing steam turbines is inherent in the operation of a typical ethane cracker unit.

Wieslaw, T., Nichols, J., Sasol; Lieberman, N., Process Improvement Engineering; Johnson, E., Graham Corp.

A system of compressors powered by surface condensing steam turbines is inherent in the operation of a typical ethane cracker unit. These turbines run by extracting work from high-pressure steam, while a surface condenser condenses the turbine’s exhaust to both maximize compressor horsepower and recover valuable condensate. In the surface condenser, a vacuum is created by the condensing steam. This vacuum is maintained by exhausting non-condensable load from the surface condenser via steam ejectors and inter-after condensing units. Non-condensable gases, which must be purged from the system, can originate from a number of sources: carbon dioxide (CO2) entrained in the steam and air leaking t

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