Managing valve wear in FCC slurry oil service

Fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) is an important upgrading process for converting heavy oil feedstock into products such as gasoline, light fuel oils, and olefin-rich gases at oil refineries. In this process, a hot catalyst from the regenerator flows in a fluidized state through the riser tube into the reactor. Do you want to enhance the wear protection of the critical flow control devices in the FCC unit? Read on and join my presentation in Valve World.

Fluid catalytic cracking unit

The incoming feed with recycled slurry oil starts vaporizing and cracking, with the aid of a catalyst when entering the reactor. The cracking reaction continues until the catalyst and the feed are separated in the reactor. The cracked hydrocarbons from the reactor enter a fractionation column, where they are separated into gasoline, light cycle oil, heavy cycle oil, and slurry oil. The catalysts are small particles, but the catalyst breaks down into yet smaller particles over time, which tend to accumulate in the slurry oil recycling in the process, despite filtering. Such small, hard particles – catalyst fines – are a major reason why the FCC unit has many severe service valve positions that require special attention to valve design and the selection of wear protection materials.

The modern FCC units are all continuous processes and expected to operate 24 hours a day for as long as three to five years between scheduled shutdowns for routine maintenance. The last two years before turnaround can be very challenging for the pumps and valves of the slurry oil circuit due to the accumulation of the erosive catalyst fines. The control valves have a risk of failure within six months, and valve reliability therefore becomes one of the most important factors impacting the safety, stability, and profitability of the FCC units. By adopting optimal valve selection and advanced wear protection materials, the performance of control valves can be upgraded to align with the service and maintenance strategy.

My presentation on November 30 at 1.30 pm at Valve World Expo in Düsseldorf discusses case examples from the FCC process and introduces ceramic and metal matrix composite (MMC) materials, which have the potential to enhance the wear protection of critical flow control devices. Moreover, the conclusions suggest that the wear issues and solutions discussed have obvious similarities with those seen in the processes utilized in the supply of renewable fuels and energy.

Join my seminar at Valve World on 30 November

My presentation at Valve World: Managing valve wear in FCC slurry oil service, 30 Nov. at 13.30 – 15.00 (Severe service)

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