April 2001

Process Technology/Distillation

Increase aromatics complex profitability

Flooding problems severely limited operations for toluene recovery column. A revamp with high-capacity tray and other modifications improved operations and increased throughput

Buttridge, I., Hartman, E. L., Koch-Glitsch, Inc.; Wilson, D. F., Koch Petroleum Group, L.P.

Catalytic reforming can be a profitable operation. It upgrades naphtha into a reformate stream rich in benzene, toluene, mixed xylene (BTX) and heavier aromatics. This reformate may be further refined into petrochemical products. In this case history, a Gulf Coast refinery suffered processing difficulties in the aromatics operation. The toluene recovery column continuously functioned on the edge of flooding. Consequently, the refiner had to cut the feedrate to the column and could not use optimization control strategies already installed. A detailed investigation identified several root causes for the toluene column's po

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