June 2007

Special Report: Process/Plant Optimization

Consider furnace replacement for existing olefin units

Leading-edge developments enable installing new units instead of revamping existing furnaces

From the late 1960s through the 1970s, the petrochemical industry built a generation of new steam crackers with a total ethylene production capacity of several million tpy. Most of these plants have been modified and revamped since their inception. Processing capacity of these older plants ranges from 400–500 thousand tpy (Mtpy) of ethylene at present. Furnace sections of the older plants consist of typically 10 to 17 small furnaces with features including: Radiant coils with about 0.4–0.6 sec residence time Thermal efficiency below 90%, typical 87–88% Central waste-heat recovery Nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions of about 75–100 ppmv (ref

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