November 2003

Special Report: Plant Safety and Environment

Pump cavitation caused by entrained gas

Here's how the problem was solved on an FCC main fractionator

Barletta, T., Process Consulting Services, Inc.

When refinery engineers think of pump cavitation, what first comes to mind is usually insufficient net positive suction head (NPSH) available. Symptoms include erratic pump flow and discharge pressure, a distinct crackling noise coming from inside the pump, and severe suction line vibration. Cavitation is caused when vapor bubbles formed inside the pump or suction line implode as pressure increases inside the pump. Much less frequently, entrained gas in the fluid being pumped causes the same symptoms. A case study presents troubleshooting an FCC main fractionator revamp including the LCO pumparound (PA) pump that was cavitating due to entrained gas. Here pump cavitation and column flooding

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