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Redesign & repair for efficiency and longevity at SABIC

SABIC has been crafting waste products from the oil extraction industry into value-added commodities – such as chemicals, polymers and fertilizers – since 1976. At their petrochemical plant, one of their deisobutanizer reboilers was underperforming, and they called on the engineering and design team at Serck to help.

The team carried out a vibration analysis and determined that the vapor belt slot dimensions weren’t adequate for the current flow velocity. In this case, an inadequate slot area was increasing the steam pressure drop in the exchanger, and reducing the saturation pressure and temperature – having a direct effect of the efficiency of the heat transfer process. The client had some ideas for modifying the unit to reduce vibrations, however none of those plans would have fully eliminated the vibrations, and may have led to premature erosion and failure of many of the tubes.

Based on the full analysis of the plant infrastructure, the introduction of steam into the process, and the construction of the exchangers themselves, the Serck design team crafted a plan to modify the baffle arrangement and orientation, the tube sheet layout, and the annular distributor dimensions. By reconfiguring the design around the current plant processes, and operating it within the designed steam flow rate and operating pressure, the exchanger will perform at its most optimal capacity, increasing throughput, saving energy, and reducing maintenance costs.