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Superior Vacuum Column Performance

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www.biofuels-tech.com BIOFUELS TECHNOLOGY 00

Graham Corporation, 20 Florence Ave, Batavia, NY 14020 585-343-2216 applicationengineering@graham-mfg.com

Operating vacuum distillation
ejector systems
Best practices and opportunities to deliver reliable ejector system performance
and reduce performance risk

Graham Corporation

eliable ejector system perfor-
mance is critical for every
refiner. The performance of an
ejector system correlates directly to
vacuum gas oil yield and refinery
profitability. Both charge rate and
fractionation are impacted when
distillation or fractionation operat-
ing pressure is not met. While they
have been used widely in distilla-
tion service for decades, an
understanding of best practices for
specifying an ejector system and the
important factors that affect ejector
system performance are not always
well known. This article provides a
deeper review of ejector system
performance, variables impacting
performance, and best practices to Figure 1 An ejector system for a US Gulf Coast refiner: top left, first stage ejector; right,
specify an ejector system for first stage condenser; bottom left, vacuum distillation column
vacuum distillation service.
mospheric pressure and compresses flow from the column and pulling
Ejector system them to a pressure typically above the cracked gases and inerts plus
An ejector system is a combination atmospheric pressure where they saturated vapours into the ejector.
of ejectors and condensers arranged enter another refinery process for The vacuum column discharge is
in series. The system produces and treating or repurposing of the gases. referred to as suction load or flow
maintains sub-atmospheric pressure to the first stage ejector. The suction
(a vacuum) within the distillation An ejector load is entrained by and mixes with
column to permit fractionation of Ejectors are static equipment with the high velocity motive steam, and
crude oil into its various important no moving parts. The operating the combined flow remains super-
components, such as light or heavy principle follows compressible flow sonic. Again, compressible flow
vacuum gas oils (LVGO and theory. Medium or low pressure theory is applied where the super-
HVGO, respectively), and reduce steam, typically less than 300 psig sonic mixture of load and motive
the amount of lower valued resid- (43 kPag), is the energy source that passes through another converg-
uum. The ejector system will performs the work and creates the ing-diverging conduit, referred to as
continually extract from the distilla- vacuum. Steam is expanded a diffuser, where high velocity is
tion column cracked and inert gases isentropically across a converg- converted back to pressure. A
along with associated saturated ing-diverging nozzle where its fundamental principle for
steam and hydrocarbon vapours. pressure is reduced and converted compressible flow, which may be
Failure to extract the gases and to supersonic velocity. This pressure counter-intuitive, is that when flow
saturated vapours properly will reduction and expansion to super- is supersonic and the cross-
result in an increase in distillation sonic flow is what creates the sectional area of a flow path is
column operating pressure, thereby vacuum. The low pressure region progressively reduced, velocity
increasing residuum while lowering exiting the converging-diverging actually decreases. The throat of the
LVGO and HVGO yield. The ejector nozzle is lower than the distillation converging-diverging diffuser
system extracts the gases at sub-at- column pressure, thereby inducing section of the ejector is where cross-

www.eptq.com PTQ Q4 2016 33

sectional area is the smallest and a
shock wave is established, which
serves to boost pressure. Figure 2 Motive
illustrates pressure and velocity 220 psig 104 Torr
profiles across an ejector with a
clear step up in pressure at the Suction
throat where a shock wave is load
15 Torr
An ejector, unlike a piston reduc- Pressure profile
ing volume to increase pressure,
does not create a discharge pres-
sure. Motive steam provides the
energy necessary to compress and
flow the mixture of motive and load
to the operating pressure of a Velocity profile
downstream condenser. If the pres-
sure of the condenser is below the
discharge capability of the ejector,
the ejector will not cause the
condenser to operate at a higher
pressure. Conversely, if the operat-
ing pressure of a condenser Figure 2 Pressure and velocity profiles within an ejector
downstream of an ejector is above
the discharge capability of that ejec- vapour equivalent load at 15 torr, motive will increase the motive
tor, referred to as a maximum discharging up to 104 torr when mass flow rate along with the veloc-
discharge pressure (MDP), the motive steam is at 220 psig. If ity exiting the converging-diverging
performance of the ejector breaks motive steam pressure is 230, 240 or nozzle and, therefore, energy from
down, the shock wave is lost, and 250 psig, the MDP capability at 7213 expansion increases, thus with
typically suction pressure moves lb/h of load is 109, 113 or 117 torr, higher motive pressure MDP capa-
sharply higher. Suction pressure respectively. Higher pressure bility is greater. A dashed line
and therefore distillation column
pressure may surge or become
unstable once the shock wave is no Typical first stage ejector performance curve
maximum discharge pressure (MDP),

longer present. 120

An ejector performance curve 110
provides critical information about 100
Suction pressure and

90 MDP at 250 psig

variables affecting performance. The
80 MDP at 240 psig
two most important variables to
70 MDP at 230 psig
understand and have correct for
MDP at 220 psig

proper performance are: motive Broken suction pressure
steam pressure and temperature; Suction pressure
and the MDP an ejector is antici-
pated to operate against. 20
Performance frustration and lost 10
profit for a refiner stem most often Design suction load
from motive steam pressure falling 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 12000
below a minimum pressure or from HEI equivalent water vapour load at 70F,
discharge pressure in operation lb/hr VE
rising above MDP. In either of these
two conditions, there is an abrupt First stage ejector suction pressure vs suction load
Suction pressure,

negative change in performance, 25

25% above design suction load
with distillation column operating 20
Design suction load

pressure rising above its design 15

25% below suction load
operating pressure, and also pres- 10
Motive steam 220 psig; MDP < 104 Torr
sure surging may occur. Figure 3 5 Three parallel 1/3-capacity ejectors
shows a typical ejector performance 0
0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 12000
curve. Notice that, for a given
suction load, MDP capability HEI equivalent water vapour load at 70F,
lb/hr VE
increases with higher motive steam
pressure. This particular ejector is
designed for 7213 lb/h of water Figure 3 Typical ejector performance curve

www.eptq.com PTQ Q4 2016 35

requirements for the system. A
vacuum condenser may also serve
as a pre-condenser positioned
between a vacuum column and an
ejector system. By condensing steam
and vapours it will reduce the load-
ing to a downstream ejector,
thereby lowering energy usage in
the form of motive steam required
by that ejector. A condenser within
an ejector system is unlike a typical
shell and tube heat exchanger,
although it externally appears no
different. It has similar construction
features that follow Tubular
Exchanger Manufacturer
Association (TEMA) or American
Petroleum Institute API 660 guide-
Figure 4 Cross-section of a TEMA X shell vacuum condenser with a longitudinal baffle lines. However, the internal
for venting non-condensibles configuration is different due to
operating under a vacuum,
shows an estimated suction pres- mance is a result of insufficient condensing vapours with non-
sure if the discharge pressure in energy available from the motive condensibles present, handling
operation exceeded MDP. There is steam to perform the required non-ideally miscible condensates to
essentially a doubling of the compression. The shock wave ensure correct vapour-liquid equi-
vacuum column discharge pressure, breaks down, resulting in loss of librium and to permit continual
from 15 torr to 30 torr, should compression across the ejector. extracting of non-condensibles (see
discharge pressure exceed MDP. Discharge pressure above MDP or Figure 4). Distinct differences from
That jump in pressure increases motive pressure below design cause conventional shell and tube heat
vacuum residuum, thereby reduc- the shock wave to move out of the exchangers are:
ing LVGO and HVGO cuts. The throat and into the converging Open areas above the tube
actual broken suction pressure will section where it ultimately breaks bundle to permit flow distribution
depend on discharge pressure. The down and compression is nega- and reduce pressure loss
higher the discharge pressure, the tively impacted. Lack of conventional flow direct-
higher the broken suction pressure. ing segmental or double segmental
A similar break in performance Vacuum system condensers baffling in order to reduce pressure
arises when motive steam pressure Condensers within an ejector loss and appropriately manage
is below 220 psig for example, while system are positioned between ejec- vapour-liquid equilibrium
discharge pressure must be 104 torr. tor stages to condense steam and Extracting non-condensible gases
In each case the break in perfor- vapours in order to reduce energy within a tube bundle, in most cases.

TEMA E shell TEMA X shell TEMA X shell

Large crossflow section with Cross flow with longitudinal Cross flow with condensate
final baffled flow section for baffle for condensate separation separation external to tube bundle
condensate separation and and final vapour cooling
final vapour cooling
Vapour inlet Vapour inlet

Vapour inlet

Vapour outlet

Condensate outlet Vapour
outlet outlet

Condensate Condensate
outlet outlet

Figure 5 Three types of TEMA shell vacuum condensers

36 PTQ Q4 2016 www.eptq.com

There are three typical configura-
tions and the choice will depend Vapour and gas
Vapours and gases temperature
upon the operating pressure,
amount and type of condensable
hydrocarbon vapours, and miscible
Outside tube wall Condensate film
condensate concerns related to temperature temperature
vapour-liquid equilibrium. Figure 5 Tube wall
shows the three types. Outside diameter
Inside diameter Inside tube wall
Vacuum column vapours are temperature
generally condensed shell side with water Cooling water
condensing occurring on the outside Condensate film
diameters of the tubes. The shell
side heat transfer coefficient is influ-
enced by a) cracked gas, inerts and
uncondensed vapour, b) the Figure 6 Temperature gradient hot side to cold side, across condensate film and tube wall
condensing coefficient for the steam
and for the hydrocarbons, and c) occur. Temperature across the 118F (48C) before steam will
the condensate film coefficient. A condensate film varies with condense.
generalised resistance proration condensate physical properties,
formula for the shell side heat trans- where hydrocarbon condensate Specifying the distillation overhead
fer coefficient is: provides higher resistance to heat loading to the ejector system
transfer than water, A third common performance issue
1 1 1
hshellside = + + and a thicker for ejector systems in refinery

condensate film vacuum distillation service is the
hgases and vapours will decrease from results in greater resistance as well. actual compositional make-up of
the top of the tube field to the Figure 7 illustrates the challenge the loading to the ejector system
bottom due to the increasing mole when a mixture of hydrocarbon exiting the vacuum column. The
fraction of gases that are present as vapours and steam must condense, performance issue is often traced
the vapours are condensed (increas- and typically hydrocarbon vapours back to process simulation of the
ing volume fraction of the gases). have a higher dew point than crude oil itself, the actual perfor-
hcondensate film will decrease from the steam and will condense before mance of the fired heaters, the
top of the tube field to the bottom steam. As Figure 7 shows, hydrocar- performance of the atmospheric
due to the increasing thickness of bon condensate film temperature distillation column, or the vacuum
condensate film. Moreover, hydro- must be below, in this example, columns performance. The vacuum
carbon condensate forms a
higher resistance to effective heat
transfer than steam condensate.
Hydrocarbon condensate has a
much lower thermal conductivity,
resulting in a lower ability to affect
temperature change across the Shellside temperature change
condensate films thickness. Cooling water temperature change
Hcondensing will vary based on
whether steam or hydrocarbons are Inert gases: 300 lb/h
Hydrocarbon vapours Steam: 5000 lb/h
condensing at a given temperature only are condensing Hydrocarbon vapours: 16000 lb/h
or if both are condensing at that 600
temperature. Initial dewpoint 566F
The controlling coefficients are 500
Inlet mol fraction inerts: 1.5%
hgases and vapours and hcondensate film with
Temperature, F

Outlet mol fraction inerts: 45%

each varying throughout the heat
exchanger tube bundle and becom-
ing the lowest near the exit of a Steam and hydrocarbon
vapours are condensing
condenser due to the volume of 200
gases being the highest and the
condensate film thickness the great- Steam dewpoint
est. Figure 6 illustrates the
temperature gradient for heat and 0
mass transfer. Importantly, conden- 0 2106 4106 6106 8106 10106 12106 14106
sate film surface temperature must Duty, BtU/h
be at or below the local vapour
dew point for condensation to Figure 7 Vacuum column precondenser condensing curve and tube bundle

www.eptq.com PTQ Q4 2016 37

column overhead load to an ejector
Vacuum distillation column overhead loading to an ejector system
system is typically broken down as:
1. Steam used to maintain velocity
in the fired heaters and for Ejector suction pressure 15 torr
Suction temperature 200F
controlling partial pressure of Composition of suction load
hydrocarbons in the distillation Component #/hr MW
column. This is generally predicta- Steam 12 200 18
ble due to mass flow rate being set Inerts (cracked gases) 1500 28
Hydrocarbon vapours 15 000 151.4
by the supply pressure and orifice Total 28 700 34.6
diameters. HEI steam equivalent 21 640
2. Cracked gases are generated in Load to each 1/3 first stage ejector 7213
the fired heater. The amount of Hydrocarbon vapour normal boiling point breakdown
Normal boiling point #/hr MW
cracked gases will vary with the 150F 750 100
crude slate, the operating tempera- 220F 750 110
ture of the fired heaters, and the 280F 3000 125
amount of velocity steam. 340F 3000 150
400F 3000 165
Typically, the higher the tempera- 460F 3000 190
ture, the greater the level of cracked 550F 1500 220
gases. Also, the vacuum distillation
process is at sub-atmospheric Table 1
conditions, therefore ingress of air
into the system must be considered vacuum distillation column over- Atmospheric column over-flash
and this is usually grouped with head loading to an ejector system. Damaged stripping trays in
the cracked gases. Most often, C6 atmospheric column
hydrocarbons or lighter, where Cautionary considerations related Vacuum column top temperature
molecular weight is less than 90 lb/ to condensable hydrocarbon LVGO vapour pressure
lb-mole, are grouped as cracked loading Vacuum column stripping
gases and considered non-conden- For expediency, process licensors efficiency
sible within the ejector system. To may provide simply an average LVGO pumparound entrainment
add safety, C7 or C8 hydrocarbons molecular weight for the condensi- Varying crude slate
or lighter may be considered as ble hydrocarbons along with Slop oil or recovered oil
non-condensible gases. normal boil point distribution. For processing.
3. Condensible hydrocarbon example, from Table 1, the average It is desirable to conduct a rigor-
vapours are generally C7 and heav- molecular weight for the hydrocar- ous sensitivity analysis for what if
ier hydrocarbons that, to varying bons is 151.4 lb/lb-mole while in factors that could impact condensa-
degrees, will condense within the actuality molecular weight varies ble hydrocarbon loading in
ejector system. Condensible hydro- with normal boiling point. The operation, and then safely specify
carbons are developed using directional impact of this seemingly that loading for ejector system
standard techniques that assess straightforward simplification is design. Conventional thinking is
how much of the crude oil is vapor- that more lower normal boiling that excess hydrocarbon loading is
ised at various temperatures. For point hydrocarbons are predicted unimportant or not materially
example, 10% of the liquid volume to condense with a molecular impactful to ejector system opera-
is vaporised at 220F (104C) and weight of 151.4 versus, for example, tion. This notion stems from an
by 250F (120C) 30% is vaporised. 110 lb/lb-mole for a normal boiling ejector performance curve where,
Hereto, crude slate affects how a point 220F (104C) pseudo-compo- for example, if loading from Table 1
crude oil is characterised. Light nent. Consequently, in operation was 30 000 lb/h of condensable
sweet, heavy sour, light tight shale more hydrocarbon vapours exit a hydrocarbons instead of the design
and crude blends will all have vacuum condenser than simulation 15000 lb/h, plant engineering
unique characterisations. No two would predict and potentially over- would expect the first stage ejector
crude oils are alike. Moreover, load a downstream ejector. Best to follow its performance curve.
understanding the method used to practice is to provide ASTM D-86 With 100% more condensible
provide the distillation assay infor- distillation assay information along hydrocarbon loading, the Heat
mation is important: is it true with pseudo-component normal Exchange Institute (HEI) water
boiling point, ASTM D-86, ASTM boiling points with corresponding vapour equivalent load is 29 300
D-1160 or ASTM D-2887 informa- molecular weights. lb/h or approximately 35% more
tion? Software or API Technical Data A common finding in operation is than design 21 640 lb/h of HEI
Book may be used for inter-conver- that the amount of condensible water vapour equivalent. Therefore
sion from one assay basis to hydrocarbons exiting a vacuum plant engineering anticipates
another. column exceed the design basis. first ejector suction pressure to rise
Table 1 shows an example of a There are a number of possible to 24 torr. Too often, 24 torr
typical compositional breakdown of causes for this: is not realised; however, the

www.eptq.com PTQ Q4 2016 39

Base design hydrocarbon loading pressure rises to 30-40 torr. Why?
15 000 lb/h hydrocarbon vapour + 53 500 lb/h steam + 1500 lb/h inserts What occurs in practice is that
condensing efficiency in the first
4430 lb/h of hydrocarbon vapour condensed
before reaching steam dewpoint, requiring inter-condenser is reduced due to
8750 ft2 of interconnector surface area. the greater hydrocarbon loading.
Hydrocarbon vapour dewpoint is 167.4F
There are two aspects to consider
with added hydrocarbon loading:
350 1. How has it changed the dew
300 point and thus the log mean
Temperature, F

temperature difference (LMTD)?

2. How will the greater hydrocar-
200 bon film thickness on the heat
Steam dewpoint transfer tubes reduce heat transfer?
In most cases hydrocarbon vapours
100 condense before steam reaches its
50 dewpoint. The extent of hydrocar-
bon condensate cooling that must
0 occur before the condensate film is
0 10106 20106 30106 40106 50106 60106
below the steam dew point can
Duty, BtU/h
materially alter condenser thermal
200% hydrocarbon loading capability. Often the effective over-
30 000 lb/h hydrocarbon vapour + 53 500 lb/h steam + 1500 lb/h inserts all heat transfer rate for the
16 600 lb/h of hydrocarbon vapour condensed
condenser drops measurably and as
before reaching steam dewpoint, requiring a consequence the operating pres-
14 010 ft2 of interconnector surface area. sure of the condenser rises in order
Hydrocarbon vapour dewpoint is 203.4F
to increase LMTD. The fundamen-
tal equation Q=U*A*LMTD is
350 followed. Area (A) is fixed, Duty
300 (Q) is known, and if overall heat
Temperature, F

transfer rate (U) is lowered due to

excess hydrocarbon loading then
200 LMTD must rise to balance the
Steam dewpoint equation. To drive higher LMTD,
operating pressure increases, which
100 may result in the operating pres-
50 sure exceeding the MDP capability
of the ejector and, consequently,
0 10106 20106 30106 40106 50106 60106 70106 suction pressure breaks and is
Duty, BtU/h
observed as a sharp rise above its
predicted value.
300% hydrocarbon loading The following evaluates a case
45 000 lb/h hydrocarbon vapour + 53 500 lb/h steam + 1500 lb/h inserts where design basis was 15 000 lb/h
28 000 lb/h of hydrocarbon vapour condensed
of condensible hydrocarbon load-
before reaching steam dewpoint, requiring ing from the vacuum column;
17 360 ft2 of interconnector surface area. however, in the field, the loading
Hydrocarbon vapour dewpoint is 216.0F
was found to be two to three times
more vapour based on oil meas-
350 ured from the condensate receiver.
300 Moreover, the excessive hydrocar-
Temperature, F

bon loading had higher percentages

of higher molecular weight/higher
200 normal boiling point hydrocarbons.
Steam dewpoint See Figure 8 for differences in the
heat release curve, the amount of
100 hydrocarbons that have condensed
50 before steam reaches its dew point,
and the additional inter-condenser
0 10106 20106 30106 40106 50106 60106 70106 surface area needed to address
Duty, BtU/h hydrocarbon condensing before
steam begins to condense.
Figure 8 Effects of varying hydrocarbon loading In this case, the base inter-

40 PTQ Q4 2016 www.eptq.com

condenser design was 26 240 ft2
(2438 m2). For two to three times 120
the hydrocarbon vapour load, the

Operating pressure, Torr

required surface area is 31 500ft2 110
(2926 m2) to 34 850 ft2 (3238 m2). Put
differently, area cannot be added to MDP of preceding
an installed condenser that was ejector is 83 Torr
90 18 Torr
designed for 26 240 ft2. Therefore, 11 Torr higher
for 30 000 lb/h or 45 000 lb/h of 80
hydrocarbon vapour loading the
condenser is 20% or 33% under-sur- 70
faced. As a result, because surface
area is now fixed, LMTD must rise 60
to balance the fundamental equa- 100 150 200 250 300
Design point Hydrocarbon vapour loading, %
tion Q = U*A*LMTD. To effect an
increase in LMTD, condenser oper-
ating pressure, in this example, Figure 9 First intercondenser response to hydrocarbon loading
must rise 18 torr for the 45 000 lb/h
case. At this required operating
pressure, the first stage ejector =

MDP is surpassed by 18 torr and,
therefore, the first stage ejector

breaks performance. Consequently, ()
the vacuum column pressure rises
appreciably and potentially is
The process team wonders why The partial pressure of steam is (normal boiling point) information
the added hydrocarbon loading is typically the saturation pressure 2. Run sensitivity analyses for
affecting the system this way and corresponding to a given tempera- atmospheric column overflash,
why the first stage ejector is not ture because steam is immiscible in vacuum column stripping efficiency
simply tracking its performance hydrocarbon condensate. The and potential column top tempera-
curve. The root cause is the partial pressure of a hydrocarbon is tures to understand the upper
suppression of heat transfer in the the product of its mole fraction in range for hydrocarbon vapour exit-
first inter-condenser due to the the condensate multiplied by an ing the top of the vacuum column.
excessive hydrocarbon loading that activity coefficient multiplied by its Be conservative (overstate) regard-
leads to a rise in its operating pres- saturation pressure corresponding ing the mass flow rate.
sure. Once first inter-condenser to a given temperature. 3. Be careful to select conserva-
operating pressure surpasses the Hydrocarbon partial pressures are tively the normal boiling boil
MDP of the ejector that precedes it not straightforward because distribution for the pseudo-compo-
in this example, MDP is 83 torr condensates that form follow nents. A general guideline is that a
vacuum column pressure abruptly non-ideal miscibility vapour-liquid greater weighting of lower normal
rises higher. equilibrium. Regardless of the boiling point pseudo-components
complicated formula, the mass flow results in less that will condense
Predicting and specifying design rate of vapour is directly propor- within the ejector system. A greater
cracked gas load tional to the amount of inerts. If weighting of higher normal boiling
Specifying conservatively the there is twice as much of the point pseudo-components will
design cracked gas load is wise. cracked gases, there will be twice result in more condensing of
Cracked gases are inerts within an as much vapour exiting the hydrocarbons in the first stage
ejector system and will not condenser and, therefore, twice the condenser. Understand the impact
condense. At a given temperature load for an ejector downstream. of greater hydrocarbon loading on
and pressure within a condenser, suppressing the overall heat trans-
steam and hydrocarbon vapours Best practices for specifying ejector fer performance. Consider field
are directly correlated to the systems in crude oil vacuum experience for how actual perfor-
amount of inerts. The greater the fractionation service mance relates to a distillation
level of inerts, the greater the 1. Provide pseudo-component columns simulated performance, in
amount of steam and hydrocarbon normal boiling point breakdown particular stripping efficiency,
vapours that saturate the inerts and with individual molecular weight LVGO pumparound entrainment,
exit the condenser as vapours. for each pseudo-component. If true and various what if sensitivity
Simplified equations for the boiling point, D-2887 or D-1160 analyses, to define range of perfor-
amount of vapour that saturates assay information is available, to mance outcomes.
inerts gases are: avoid uncertainty convert it to D-86 4. Cracked gas and inerts should

www.eptq.com PTQ Q4 2016 41

be overstated from test data to of safety. It is always best practice contact throughout the majority of
account for actual fired heater to perform a hydraulic loss calcula- the condenser. Baffled units result
performance. Make certain second tion once actual piping isometrics in differential condensation that
and third stage ejectors are are complete. A good rule of thumb will lead to improper system
adequately sized to allow for errors is to provide 10 to 15% overlap performance due to greater percent-
in estimating the amount of between an ejector MDP and the ages of the hydrocarbon load
non-condensibles. Overload of operating pressure of the down- remaining in the vapour phase.
cracked gases presents problems stream condenser. For example, if 10. Ejector and condenser configu-
for the second or third stage ejec- the operating pressure of a ration should consider the second
tors that manifest themselves as condenser is 100 torr or 250 torr, and third stage ejectors being at
high and potentially unstable the preceding ejector should have 150% capacity, for instance three
vacuum column pressure. an MDP >110-115 torr or 275-288 50% elements. This is so that if
5. Steam loading to the ejector torr, respectively. Layout is not cracked gas estimation for design is
system is predictable based on finalised until detailed engineering too low, the system can accommo-
supply pressure and the tempera- is completed and, to avoid time- date up to 150% of design cracked
ture of the steam and the orifice consuming or frustrating iterations gases and inerts. If actual cracked
diameters that meter the steam to after an order, use the overlap gas loading is below design, then it
the vacuum column. There typi- concept to establish utility is possible to leave one of the
cally is little performance risk consumption and equipment sizes. elements idle so as not to waste
introduced by steam load 8. Cooling water inlet temperature energy. The condensers following
estimates. should be considered the highest the second and third stages should
6. Motive steam supply conditions possible that the site will experi- have 150% capacity to allow for all
require thoughtful consideration. ence. Do not, for example, select a three ejector elements to be in oper-
Ejectors are sensitive to steam pres- temperature that is satisfactory 95% ation. For the first stage ejectors
sure, especially when designed at of the time, say 85F (29C), when and first stage condensers, consider
the minimum supply pressure. multiple elements, such as three
Invariably over time, with added 40% trains or some other combina-
demands on the steam generating
Absolute best tion that provides operating
system, supply pressure to an
ejector system will fluctuate down-
practice is to involve flexibility.
11. Provide instrument connections
ward. A safe practice that will use an ejector system at the suction and discharge of each
somewhat greater steam, however, ejector and at each connection for
and aid in performance reliability is supplier early in the the condensers. This is important
to set motive pressure to establish a for field measurements. It is not
shock wave against the expected specifying process to uncommon for the control room
maximum discharge pressure at 90 DCS readings to be inaccurate,
to 95% of minimum supply pres- identify performance therefore field measurements can
sure. This will provide operating prove invaluable when performance
flexibility and reliable performance
risks and methods to issues arise. Having such connec-
that can be refined with a motive
steam pressure reducing station
mitigate risk tions available permits field
measurements to be taken readily to
that is typically in the steam supply aid in evaluating system
system. This practice will eliminate the plant water system can be as performance.
frustration and costly profit short- warm at 88F (31C). A few degrees 12 Absolute best practice is to
falls when vacuum column error can result in several weeks of involve an ejector system supplier
pressure increases due to insuffi- frustration in summer months early in the specifying process to
cient motive steam pressure to an when vacuum column pressure identify performance risks and
ejector system, resulting in broken increases or becomes unstable due methods to mitigate risk.
ejector system performance where to broken ejector system perfor-
distillation column pressure mance where distillation column
increases dramatically. pressure increases dramatically.
7. Provide overlap between an 9. Do not permit condenser
ejector discharge and downstream designs where flow directing
condenser operating pressure. baffles are used, such as typical
There are always hydraulic piping segmental or double segmental
losses between ejector discharge baffles, the entire length of the
Jim Lines is President and CEO of Graham
and inlet to a downstream tubing. Hydrocarbon condensates Corporation, Batavia, New York. He has 33
condenser, along with cooling are non-ideally miscible and years experience in heat transfer and vacuum
water inlet temperature fluctuations require a configuration supporting system design and holds a BS degree in
and fouling within the condensers integral condensation where aerospace engineering from the University at
where overlap provides a margin vapours and condensate remain in Buffalo. Email: jlines@graham-mfg.com

42 PTQ Q4 2016 www.eptq.com

Q4 2016





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