April 2011

Special Report: Petrochemical Developments

Optimize cracked-gas compressors with smart-automation technology

Machine health monitors can provide critical information to avoid unit and plant-wide shutdowns

Cox, P., Emerson Process Management

The cracked-gas compressor (CGC) is the single most critical piece of equipment in an ethylene plant (Fig. 1). This asset can cost as much as $50 million and operates 24/7 under demanding conditions. Because it has no backup, ethylene producers know that if their CGC trips—whether the trip is caused by excess vibration, a surge, an instrument malfunction or other problems—their entire ethylene process may be halted for up to a week.     Fig. 1. The cracked-gas compressor is an ethylene plant’s   most critical asset. (Photo courtesy of Elliott Co.)   Compressor operation must be fine-tuned to maximize performance and reduce spurious trips tha

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