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Cat Cracker Seminar

August 23-24, 2016


Royal Sonesta Hotel
Houston, TX

CAT-16-8 Developing Feed Nozzle Technology from an


Owner/Operator Perspective

Presented By:

Kevin Kunz Zhe Cui


Licensing Technology R&D Technologist
Manager, FCC Shell Global Solutions
Shell Global Solutions Houston, Texas
Houston, Texas

Bob Ludolph
Principal FCC
Technologist
Shell Global Solutions
Houston, Texas

Cian Carroll
Staff Engineer
Shell Martinez Refinery
Martinez, California

American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers 1667 K Street, NW 202.457.0480 voice


Suite 700 202.457.0486 fax
Washington, DC www.afpm.org
20006
This paper has been reproduced for the author or authors as a courtesy by the American Fuel &
Petrochemical Manufacturers. Publication of this paper does not signify that the contents
necessarily reflect the opinions of the AFPM, its officers, directors, members, or staff. Requests
for authorization to quote or use the contents should be addressed directly to the author(s)
Summary

Shell designs both Side Entry Feed (SEF) and Bottom Entry Feed (BEF) nozzles for FCC units.
FCC feed nozzles perform a key role in realizing the full margin potential of a riser reactor
system. Nozzle designs must deliver sustainable process contributions to the full margin
potential over a wide range of operating conditions and feedstock qualities. Mechanically,
nozzle designs must endure the severe conditions within the riser, deliver reliable integrity on-
the-run and be uncomplicated during removal and replacement at unit turnarounds.

Shell has recently adopted the shadowgraph Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) technique for
characterizing atomized FCC feedstock. The technique provides new insight into droplet size
distribution, feed vaporization and riser utilization. Shell has incorporated this insight into its
SEF and BEF nozzle designs thus promoting desirable catalytic cracking reactions while
mitigating the coking of the reaction system and fouling of downstream equipment. In
addition the new steam distributor design for the SEF nozzle improves coverage of the nozzle
slot to more effectively prevent catalyst ingress, thus mitigating damage sustained during the
cycle. Complementing the process performance improvement of side-entry feed nozzles are
two mechanical design improvements which will enhance nozzle reliability and extractability
for replacement.

From evidence gathered in Shell operated FCC units and its Feed Atomization Pilot (FAP)
facility, yield projections with process and mechanical performance expectations can be
developed for consideration by candidate refiner locations.

Background: Shell FCC feed nozzles

Shell is an early developer of FCC technology, actively operating and licensing a broad
variety of FCC equipment technologies [1, 2]. In particular, Shell has spent over 30 years
developing and continuously improving the performance of its FCC feed nozzles. Based on
commercial applications of FCC feed nozzle technology, Shell believes that significant margin
gains can be realized by improvement of the nozzle spray characteristics. Reducing and
narrowing the distribution of droplet sizes produced by the feed nozzles is important for
increasing the total surface area for a given volume of feed and thus shortening the time for
feed vaporization. In addition, the wetting of the catalyst by un-vaporized feed is less likely to
occur as well as lowering the potential for coke deposition on internal equipment. By
reducing the feed vaporization time the effective riser volume can be expanded to promote
desirable secondary and tertiary catalytic cracking reactions.
Shell’s FCC feed nozzles deliver effective feedstock atomization at reasonable pressure drops
with minimal steam usage. These feed nozzles operate by delivering high velocity steam to the
oil in a high shear zone thus creating a distribution of fine droplet sizes. When applied
effectively this atomization technique produces an optimized spray discharge from the nozzle
tip that avoids droplet re-agglomeration or stratified, two-phase flow. The optimized spray

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discharge mixes well with the circulated, regenerated catalyst to promote rapid feed
vaporization and subsequent initiation of desirable catalytic cracking reactions.

Shell feed nozzles are designed to provide maximum reliability and optimal atomization for
a variety of feeds. There are two nozzle designs available from Shell: Side Entry Feed (SEF)
nozzles and Bottom Entry Feed (BEF) nozzles [3]. Both SEF and BEF designs are employed in
both Shell and third party FCC units, providing the desired performance across a wide range
of conditions.

A feed nozzle design schematic is in Figure 1 [4]. The advancement of Shell’s feed nozzle
technology has led to numerous process and mechanical improvements. The SEF nozzles
inject the feed higher up in the riser where the catalyst has been pre-conditioned for proper
mixing [5]. The higher elevation can also help reduce the likelihood of a feed flow reversal
up the regenerator standpipe as well as coking of the Regenerated Catalyst Slide Valve. The
slots of the SEF nozzle tip are optimally angled to ensure proper radial distribution of oil in
the riser. Shell’s unique design promotes atomization that occurs just before the nozzle exit to
create the optimal droplet sizes with highest energy efficiency.

Figure 1: Examples of Shell’s SEF (left) and BEF (right) feed nozzles

BEF nozzles inject the feed into the liftpot at the base of the riser [6]. The nozzles are oriented
with the bottom section of the riser, that may be vertical, horizontal, or inclined. BEF nozzle
tips can be canted toward the center of the riser, reducing the likelihood of riser wall
impingement; see Figure 1.

The atomization steam requirement for both feed nozzle types is typically designed for 1.0 –
2.5 wt% of the fresh feed rate. Feed nozzles are optimized for a wide range of gas oil and
residue feed applications with appreciably low atomization steam requirements.

Feed Nozzle Performance Testing

In addition to employing feed nozzle technologies in operating assets, Shell benchmarks its
feed nozzles under cold flow conditions at our in-house FCC technology research facility in
Houston, Texas. The FCC Feed Atomization Pilot (FAP) testing facility (Figure 2) has been in

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operation for many years and is the main vehicle for developing and testing full-scale feed
nozzles of varying designs prior to their commercial deployment.

Figure 2: Operation of Shell’s FCC feed nozzle test facility

A recent remodeling of the feed nozzle experimental facility has allowed for enhancements in
the testing capabilities of the unit. In particular, we have expanded the flexibility in nozzle
operating conditions, improved spray characterization techniques, and widened the testing
capabilities to study both SEF and BEF nozzles.

Sprays from any type of nozzle vary in quality, but all transition from liquid sheets to non-
spherical “ligaments” of poorly atomized agglomerations of liquid, and, of course, to
droplets. Figure 3 illustrates the transitions of a nozzle spray. It is difficult to determine when
the spray dissociates from sheets to ligaments, so these spray components are viewed as
potential impediments to achieving a well-atomized spray. While reducing droplet size is
important, the reduction of these two spray components can be a significantly more important
contributor to overall oil conversion in an FCC unit.

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Figure 3: Typical spray transitions for an FCC feed nozzle

Commercially available feed nozzle technologies have evolved over many years. Figure 4
illustrates Shell’s view of this evolution with a four quadrant map, focusing on a synergistic
reduction of droplet sizes and ligaments in the atomized spray. Ligaments are non-spherical
or poorly atomized droplets that may be low in number but can represent a significant
volume of the liquid spray. The inset images of Figure 4 illustrate the variation in
performance obtained from outdated technology systems through optimized nozzle systems.
Technology evolution has led to reductions in the sizes of spherical droplets, non-spherical
droplets and ligaments. Total feed vaporization time is thereby shortened, resulting in the
mitigation of coke formation and thermal cracking mechanisms.

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Figure 4: The evolution of FCC feed nozzle development represented by shifts in atomized spray quality

The ASTM E799 [7] standard provides a basis for spray characterization. The D10
represents the droplet diameter where 10% of the total liquid volume is of equal or smaller
diameter. Similarly, the D50 and D90 droplet diameters represent 50% and 90% of the total
liquid volume, respectively. Improvements in atomization have led to narrowing the size
range (or span) of the droplets produced. The span is calculated from the D10 to D90 range
normalized by D50, i.e. (D90 – D10)/D50.

Droplet size distributions for FCC feed atomization systems are commonly characterized by
the Sauter Mean Diameter droplet size (also called SMD, D[3,2] or D32). The Sauter mean
droplet size defines the average droplet size that has the same volume to surface area ratio
as the collective average of the droplets distributed throughout the entire spray.

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Various optical test methods provide the means to characterize atomized sprays and
compute droplet data statistics. Depending on the variety of spray systems to be analyzed
and the depth of detail desired for each system, the test methods employed can be quite
varied. There are methods which are well-suited for characterizing spray uniformity, shape
and coverage. Others can provide more detailed information about the distribution of droplet
sizes, droplet concentration, and droplet flow field. Diffraction, light scattering, and imaging
techniques are commonly utilized for such methods. Laser technology is typically utilized to
provide a uniform, consistent, energy source.

Spray characterization data can be produced by undergoing four general steps:


1. Apply and align the appropriate laser to the spray for analysis;
2. Employ a detection system that collects the information generated by the laser;
3. Utilize a data processor to analyze the collected information and report the
respective output for the method; and
4. Perform data analysis and interpretation; characterize the tested spray.

Steps 3 and 4 are critical to spray characterization. Atomized sprays that include non-
spherical droplets and ligaments present a challenge to those characterization methods that
rely on spherical and near-spherical liquid droplet distributions. Such methods can understate
or even ignore the presence of non-spherical droplets and ligaments. Thus, the spray
characterization would lack the contribution of these spray components. The contribution of
these spray components is important for optimizing the performance of dense spray systems
operated at high liquid flux rates, like FCC feed nozzle systems.

Like others in the industry, Shell has tested and utilized a range of droplet measurement
techniques including Phase Doppler and Laser Diffraction. We questioned whether we were
properly characterizing atomized sprays with any of our past analytical methods.

Shell has recently adopted the shadowgraph Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) technique to
assess the performance of our deployed feed nozzle designs as well as carry out feed nozzle
development. Shadowgraph PIV’s primary advantage is that it directly visualizes the spray,
providing photographs of droplet size distribution and capturing any instances of large
droplets and poorly atomized ligaments present in the spray (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Photograph of a FCC spray pattern (left image). Shell’s visualization technique to recognize and
categorize poorly atomized ligaments in this image are traced with red borders (right image). Direct visualization
of the spray is required in order to capture and analyze large non-spherical droplets and ligaments.

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Shell’s performance data from FCC feed nozzle testing indicate that a substantial volume
fraction of the feed can be in the form of large droplets and poorly atomized ligaments
though they may be few in number. The likelihood of their occurrence is especially true if
the nozzle wears or degrades over the operating cycle. By accounting for the non-
spherical large droplets and poorly atomized ligaments of the spray, the shadowgraph
PIV measurements enable us to compute a more representative Sauter Mean Diameter for
the spray.

Figure 6 illustrates the insight that the PIV technique can provide. The photograph on the
left captures an atomized spray from a feed nozzle test. The spray is comprised of well-
defined spherical droplets (spanning a wide range of sizes) and poorly atomized
ligaments. The photograph on the right represents the spray produced from an improved
feed nozzle design. Here the spray shows that the population of poorly atomized
ligaments has been reduced in both number and size. The population of well-defined
spherical droplets has increased as a result of the ligament reduction. Though visually
quite different, the Sauter Mean Diameters of the well-defined spherical droplet
populations in these photographs are equivalent. A visualization technique like PIV
supports that these two sprays are indeed very different. An analysis of these sprays
using a PIV alternative (such as Phase Doppler or Laser Diffraction) could conclude that
they are the same based on the D32 results.

Figure 6: Photograph of an atomized spray (left image) with well-defined spherical droplets and poorly
atomized ligaments. Photograph of an improved atomized spray (right image) with the poorly atomized
ligaments reduced in both number and size. In the same image, the population of well-defined spherical
droplets has increased as well. The Sauter Mean Diameters of the well-defined spherical droplet populations
in these photographs are equivalent.

Shell’s extensive test program has shown that measurements from the alternatives to the
PIV technique can lead to an incorrect assessment of the nozzle performance and
ranking. Figure 7 illustrates two examples of how the exclusion of very large droplets and

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poorly atomized ligaments present in the dense spray can lead to incorrect nozzle
selections:

1. Red arrow (development in the vertical axis): The smallest spherical droplets in the
spray have been reduced in size but the size and bulk of the flow is in the form of
large non-spherical ligaments. Rankings based on the spherical droplets alone would
result in an apparent “improved” nozzle design that will atomize the small and
medium spherical droplets but does little to reduce very large droplets and ligaments.
Such a nozzle appears to lower the SMD and thus shorten vaporization time. If the
ligament fraction was measured (as with direct visualization using PIV), the bulk
vaporization rate would undergo little change. In this case the “improved” nozzle
design would not show any benefit if implemented.

2. Orange arrow (development in the horizontal axis): The ligaments in the original
’outdated’ nozzle (top right) have been successfully atomized. However, the resulting
spherical droplet sizes measured by an alternative method to PIV would indicate an
increase in droplet SMD thus concluding that the overall vaporization time has
lengthened. The PIV alternative would not necessarily recognize the ligament fraction
reduction and so the “improved” nozzle design appears to be a worse performer. If
the ligament fraction reduction was recognized (as with direct visualization using
PIV), the net effect could actually indicate a shorter overall vaporization time for the
spray. In this case the “improved” nozzle design could actually show a benefit if
implemented.

The green diagonal arrow in Figure 7 highlights the desired approach to feed nozzle
optimization, where ligaments and large droplets are reduced in tandem.

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Figure 7: Photographs characterizing spray performance highlight the importance of capturing the spray ligament
content.

Feed Vaporization and Riser Contact Time

Experiments carried out in the FAP facility utilize water and air as substitute media for liquid
feed and steam. Given the differences in physical properties between the experiment and
FCC operations a correlation is applied relating the experimentally observed droplet size
distribution to that which would be produced in FCC operating conditions (of varying
feedstock properties, temperature, and pressure conditions) [8].

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Obtaining the droplet size distribution of an oil/steam system (including the contribution of
very large droplets and poorly atomized ligaments) at FCC operating conditions allows for
calculation of the mean vaporization time for the distribution. Buchanan [9] estimates the
vaporization time of spherical hydrocarbon droplets of varying diameter when contacted
with solids in a riser. The tabulated estimates are provided in Table 1 [9].

Droplet diameter, microns


30 100 300 1000 2000 3000
Total time to vaporize, ms 0.5 3.2 16 103 290 540
Table 1: Estimated time to vaporization for droplets of varying size [9]

As droplet size increases, the time to vaporize the droplet increases non-linearly (by droplet
diameter raised to the 1.5 power) [9]. The time to vaporize atomized sprays with significant
quantities of very large droplets and poorly atomized ligaments can represent a substantial
proportion of riser contact time. For example, from Table 1, a 2000 micron diameter droplet
can take 290 milliseconds to vaporize which can represent 10-20% of the riser contact time.
A 3000 micron diameter droplet will take nearly twice as long to vaporize.

Due to the non-linear relation between droplet size and vaporization time small changes in
droplet size can result in significant changes in feed vaporization rates. With the support of
shadowgraph PIV characterization, Shell has focused its research on minimizing the quantity
of globules in the spray, where globules are defined as the large droplets plus poorly
atomized ligaments which collectively take a substantial length of time to vaporize in the
riser. Reducing the population of globules will increase (1) riser utilization, (2) the effective
riser volume and (3) reaction severity. An understanding of feed nozzle globule content is
critical to good feed nozzle selection.

Figure 8 illustrates how accounting for the globules in a spray is critical for estimating the
vaporization time and number of droplets produced by the feed nozzle. Optimizing feed
nozzle performance can reduce the globule population and thus generate smaller, more
numerous droplets and shorten overall feed vaporization time.

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Figure 8: Plot of vaporization time (dashed line, black, corresponding to the left-hand
ordinate) and normalized number of droplets (dot-dash line, red, corresponding to the
right-hand ordinate) versus globule content for five different feed nozzle designs.
Optimization drives toward lower globule / faster vaporization results, accompanied by
an order of magnitude growth in the number of droplets

Since globules can take long time to vaporize, their impact on the cracking reactions and the
ultimate yield structure can be significant. When regenerated catalyst contacts atomized feed
containing a high percentage of these spray components the vaporization of feed will be
highly non-uniform as the feed travels up the riser with undesirable oil-to-oil contacting
occurring along the way. The condition increases the contribution of thermal cracking
reactions to the riser chemistry and increases the coke on spent catalyst. Consequently, the
riser produces excessive dry gas with the high spent catalyst coke leading to high regenerator
operating temperatures; catalyst circulation suffers as a result.

Additionally, as these globules slowly vaporize so would the high boiling feed components
carried by the globules travel further up the riser. These “coke precursors” can lead to coke
deposition along the riser wall, throughout the reactor internals, along the overhead vapor
line wall, and/or at the main fractionator inlet. Fouling of the slurry system can result as well.
Such deposition or fouling can negatively impact the pressure balance, the unit capacity,

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catalyst circulation and/or slurry heat removal. Any or all of these effects would become
progressively worse as the unit runs further into its operating cycle.

Minimizing globules in the atomized feed will promote desirable catalytic cracking reactions
when contacted with regenerated catalyst. Thus desirable product selectivities will be
achieved and the coking of equipment will be mitigated.

Nozzle Performance Improvements

Experimental facility upgrades and calibration testing show that the shadowgraph PIV
method dramatically improves the characterization of a dense spray flow-field. The
previously unquantified importance of measuring the globule fraction of the spray launched a
series of development activities specifically targeting globule reduction.

The reduction of globules formed during atomization process can be accomplished by a


range of modifications to the nozzle geometry and shearing internals. Shell’s next generation
of FCC feed nozzles minimizes the formation of globules under essentially equivalent
operating conditions to the current generation of nozzle technology (Figure 9). Figure 10
provides a visual illustration of the improvement.

Figure 9: Plot of globule content versus Sauter Mean Diameter for five different nozzle configurations. Trend is
clear that reducing the globule content correlates to smaller droplet sizes and improved nozzle performance.

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Figure 10: Left: Image of a droplet distribution produced by a dated feed nozzle design. Right: Image of the
droplet distribution produced by an upgraded nozzle design that mitigates globule formation, thus reducing the
mean droplet diameter and thereby shortening feed vaporization time. Both nozzle designs were operated with
identical water and air rates as well as the same pressure drop.

The Role of Steam on Droplet Size

Feed nozzle operators like Shell expect that by manipulating the dispersion steam to feed
ratio the atomization of the feed can be improved. However our research has shown that
globule formation can be adversely affected by raising the dispersion steam to feed ratio if
the feed nozzle design is sub-optimal. This is manifested in the unit when a refiner performs a
step change in dispersion steam, yet the expected resulting reduction in slurry yield and/or
regenerator temperature (expected from anticipated droplet size reduction) does not occur.
Figure 11 provides some insight to this observation. A sub-optimal feed nozzle design does
little to reduce globules (or can even worsen the globule population) with the addition of
steam. Well-formed spherical droplets will likely reduce in size but the impact on overall
vaporization rate can be small or even non-existent. A similar outcome would be observed if
the feed nozzle were worn or damaged as the feed nozzle would behave in a sub-optimal
fashion. The increased steam could also potentially increase nozzle wear. If however a
properly designed feed nozzle is in operation, the additional steam will accomplish the
desired goal of reducing the globule content and the droplet size of the atomized spray.

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Figure 11: Illustration on the effect on globule content and D32 droplet size of only spherical droplets excluding
globules for increasing the steam to feed ratio on two feed nozzles. When the steam rate is increased the sub-
optimal nozzle (left) responds by making the small drops smaller but the globules show a slight increase. The
optimal nozzle (right) has improved steam to feed contacting such that an increase in steam to feed ratio reduces
both droplet size and globules simultaneously.

The shear zone geometry is critical in ensuring efficient contacting of steam and feed in the
nozzle. The distribution of steam and the way both phases combine at the nozzle exit is also
crucial to design a reliable nozzle, helping to eliminate the potential for catalyst ingress and
erosion of nozzle internals. Shell feed nozzles have been upgraded with a new dispersion
steam distributor design which will discourage this catalyst ingress.

Feed nozzle performance has previously been illustrated [10] by measuring the radial
temperature profile across the riser. Figure 12 compares the temperature profile between a
conventional feed nozzle and Shell’s technology. A more uniform radial temperature
distribution is an indicator of more uniform contacting of atomized feed with regenerated
catalyst and thus more radially uniform vaporization rates.

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Figure 12: Radial temperature distribution for two different feed nozzles, the conventional nozzle and Shell
technology feed nozzle.

Shell’s next generation of feed nozzles complement the previous generation of technology by
an even more uniform radial distribution of droplets along with a lower globule content.
Table 2 provides several qualitative performance shifts expected from an optimized feed
nozzle design.

Qualitative Performance Shifts

Overall
Droplet Size Globule Conversion
Number of Droplets Vaporization
Reduction Reduction Gain
Time Reduction
Optimized 1.0-2.0
0.10-0.25
Feed Nozzle 40-55% 35-50% 10-50 fold increase volume% of
second
Design feed
Table 2: Qualitative Performance Shifts for an Optimized Feed Nozzle design relative to prior nozzle technology

Margin and Process Benefits

As feed nozzle performance improves by reducing the globule content and droplet sizes of
atomized sprays, the time for the atomized feed to vaporize will be reduced, adding more
contact time and reaction severity.

To forecast the yields from reduced feed vaporization time we use the SHARC® (SHell
Advanced and Rigorous Cat Cracking) Model, Shell Global Solution’s fluid catalytic cracking
simulation and optimization tool programmed in AIMMS [11]. The model is capable of
predicting the impact of reduced feed vaporization time (higher contact time) by modelling

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the cracking reactions and predicting the hydrocarbon and catalyst residence times as well
as reaction severity. For a given feed, the SHARC® model can generate a set of product
yields as reaction severity changes, effectively providing an operating line for each FCC unit
simulated with the SHARC® model. Reaction severity however does depend on several
operating variables, each of which produces a different yield structure. Knowledge of a unit’s
specific design information, its operating constraints and production goals are considered
when developing the predictive tool for each unit. Once the tool is in place the product yields
are predicted and compared to the base operation. Economics are derived from the shifts in
product yields.

FCC feedstock that is atomized into a distribution of smaller droplet sizes will mix better with
the regenerated catalyst circulated to the feed injection zone and promote desirable catalytic
reactions in the riser. Yield shifts can be substantial, resulting in fractional to whole number
percentage changes. Improving the catalyst to oil contacting will promote cracking reactions
that:

 Increase selectivities toward valuable products with less interference from thermal
reactions;
 Increase the volume gain of propane-propylene through gasoline products; and
 Lower the coke and dry gas yields at the same conversion.

Improving the catalyst to oil contacting will also:

 Enable higher unit throughput while maintaining the same conversion;


 Expand the feedstock flexibility for processing less treated, less crackable or more
residue feeds to increase LCO and lighter product production;
 Improve utilization of the technology provided by the fresh catalyst such that
o Competing, inhibiting reactions are reduced, while
o Selectivities toward the desired products and overall performance are
accentuated; and
 Enhance the effectiveness of cracking additives (like ZSM-5) which can lead to
o Improved selectivities toward desired products, or
o An opportunity to reduce additive usage/expense.

 Improving the catalyst to oil contacting can also help mitigate regenerator emissions
by:
o Lowering the coke on spent catalyst and thus carry fewer precursors of
sulfur/nitrogen oxide emissions to the regenerator; and
o Enhancing the effectiveness of SOx reduction additives designed for partial
burn regenerators as flue gas CO declines due to the lower delta coke.

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Incorporating highly effective feed nozzle technology into your FCC unit operation will deliver
the operational flexibility and feed upgrading capability that refiners need to compete in the
refining industry.

Performance of Worn versus New Feed Nozzles

Shell’s FAP facility tests feed nozzles in both their new and worn conditions to quantify the
effects of wear on droplet size distribution, globule content and size, pressure drop, and
ultimately product yields. FCC feed nozzles can have highly complex designs, requiring tight
tolerances and precision in the manufacturing process. Even slight deviations from the design
can result in unforeseen nozzle wear or performance drawbacks. Feed nozzle wear scenarios
experienced in the refining industry over a 5-year FCC operating cycle are outlined in Table
3, along with some observations on the impact to feed atomization based on our pilot plant
testing. Table 3 uses a generic slotted, fan spray nozzle head configuration for the wear
illustrations.

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Wear Illustration Generic Description of Potential Impact on Nozzle
Nozzle Wear Performance
Scenario A
Damage to the steam Severe impact on the droplet
distributor internal to size distribution. Larger
the nozzle can lead to droplets are possible along
catalyst ingress into with more feed volume
the shear zone during dispersed as globules.
operation.
Enlargement of the
steam orifices or local
wear to the orifice
pattern can result.

Scenario B
Damage to the corners Moderate impact to droplet
of the oil slot can sizes and on globule
develop from formation. Uniformity of the
misalignment of the spray fan suffers due to
feed nozzle during uneven distribution of feed
installation or from across the slot area.
high velocity flow
impingement against
the oil head.

Scenario C
Damage to the straight Low impact on droplet sizes
edges of the slot leads and globule formation.
to widening or Observed physical nozzle
rounding of the slot damage is typically low.
edges. Wear such as Assessment from visual
this can result in inspection may suggest nozzle
negative impact on reuse. However testing reveals
atomization and that small changes in slot
mixing with catalyst. geometry leads to continued
degradation and performance
loss over the next run.
Table 3: Feed nozzle wear scenarios with the associated impacts on droplet sizes and globules.

Shell, as a part of our feed nozzle performance improvement plan, has identified ways to
improve coverage of the nozzle slot to more effectively prevent catalyst ingress, reducing
damage attained during the cycle.

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The degradation of feed nozzle performance over an operating cycle has a measurable effect
on unit yields and margin. Again we use the SHARC® model to determine the normalized
performance of unit hardware both prior to and following unit revamps.
Shell maintains and manages up-to-date, tailor-made SHARC® models for all of its FCC units
as well as the FCC units operated by third party SHARC® licensees. These unit-specific
SHARC® models are referred to as ‘base cases.’ Prior to and following a unit turnaround, test
run data are collected to develop the SHARC® base cases representing each operating period.
These base cases are then used to evaluate pre-turnaround and post-turnaround FCCU
operations to enable the quantification of yield shifts and the associated margin benefits gained
from the revamp. [1, 2]
Using a similar approach, the effect of feed nozzle degradation from wear or damage can
also be ascertained. By normalizing the operating data to obtain yields under similar operating
conditions for the same feed, an audit of yields and margin benefits of feed nozzle revamps
can be performed. Figure 13 illustrates an outcome from such an audit. The Conversion versus
Coke operating line for a badly worn feed nozzle (as described in Scenario A) shifts to the
right relative to the operating line for a new ‘replacement in kind’ feed nozzle. As the feed
nozzle wears, operating the unit to the same coke burn results in lower conversion. If
combustion air is available then operating the reactor with higher severity will recover the
conversion. If combustion air is limited then lowering feed rate and operating to a higher coke
yield will recover the conversion.

Figure 13: Operating lines for a badly worn feed nozzle versus a new ‘in kind’ feed nozzle

The learning gained from our existing nozzle designs coupled with the knowledge of any wear
locations and associated performance impacts has been incorporated into our latest design
improvements. Based on our understanding of feed nozzle operation on the run, turnaround
findings, and know-how in avoiding specific types of nozzle damage the new generation of

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Shell FCC feed nozzle design combines the highest levels of performance with the greatest
longevity and reliability. The incentive to replace feed nozzles with upgraded technology is
demonstrated versus either an in-kind replacement or an already commissioned nozzle that
had undergone visual inspection and deemed having insignificant nozzle wear.

Feed Nozzle Mechanical Upgrades


Accompanying the process design improvement for the SEF nozzles are two mechanical
upgrades included with any new SEF technology installation.
The first of the upgrades protects the integrity of the SEF nozzle tip. SEF nozzles are installed
with a proprietary, shield-like shroud that covers most of the nozzle tip surface (Figure 14)
[12]. The shroud allows feed injection to pass through it while minimizing tip erosion from the
flowing catalyst in the riser. Numerous Shell locations employ the shroud technology with
excellent success.

Figure 14: Sacrificial shroud [12]

The second upgrade enhances the extractability of the SEF nozzle. Removal of the feed
nozzles during unit turnarounds had presented a challenge for previous nozzle installations.
An upgraded nozzle sleeve design (Figure 15) has been demonstrated in several commercial
applications which vastly improves nozzle extraction and reduces the time required for feed
nozzle replacement.

The new sleeve design comprises a tapered entry sleeve so that any coke lay-down in the
annular region surrounding the feed nozzle does not impede the removal of the feed nozzle
from the sleeve. Shortening the time required to remove the nozzles is key to delivering an
on-schedule riser revamp.

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Figure 15: Tapered feed nozzle sleeve

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Shell Technology Deployment Plan

Shell R&D launched a two-year feed nozzle baseline performance program in 2015. Under
this program both SEF and BEF nozzles installed in Shell-operated FCC units will be tested in
the FAP facility to baseline their performance using the advanced techniques discussed in this
paper. By baselining the current state-of-the-art, Shell will develop a more-informed
understanding of what design features are critical for further advancement of our feed nozzle
technology.

The baseline program work conducted in early 2015 revealed several opportunities to
incrementally improve the current designs employed at units approaching their turnarounds.
Thus, two such nozzle design upgrades will be implemented in 2016 with more identified for
implementation in the years that follow.

Shell will continue to assess feed nozzle performance as part of their unit monitoring
programs for their FCCs. Possible degradation in feed nozzle performance can be
ascertained by tracking individual nozzle operating conditions and comparing actual to
expected (i.e. model predicted) yields; diagnostic testing may also be employed. Feed
nozzles removed from the unit after completing an operating cycle will continue to be audited
for their mechanical integrity and atomization effectiveness. In this way Shell can continue to
develop process and mechanical improvements for our feed nozzle technologies.

Conclusions

The shadowgraph Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) technique for characterizing atomized
FCC feedstock provides new insight into droplet size distribution, feed vaporization and riser
utilization.

New Shell SEF and BEF nozzle designs will incorporate this insight thus promoting globule
reduction and desirable catalytic cracking reactions while mitigating the coking of the
reaction system and fouling of downstream equipment.

Complementing the process performance improvement of side-entry feed nozzles are two
mechanical design improvements which will enhance nozzle reliability and extractability. In
addition the new steam distributor design for the SEF nozzle improves coverage of the nozzle
slot to more effectively prevent catalyst ingress, thus mitigating damage sustained during the
cycle.

Cat-16-8 Page 22 of 23 2016 Cat Cracker Seminar


References

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of state-of-the-art FCC technology for improved reliability and profitability at Deer
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SHARC® and CFD Assess and Validate Shell Puget Sound’s Profitable
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