Improve energy efficiency by 23% in your refinery

Comparing the performance of more than 3,000 supplied Alfa Laval heat exchangers with that of S&T heat exchangers shows a reduction of energy by up to 23% when replacing selected heat exchanger positions with <internal link Compabloc>, or <internal link Spiral heat exchangers>.

In the global refinery industry, 23% energy savings translates to approximately 1000TWh, 245 m tonnes of C02 or the emissions from 236,000 American homes, according to Eva Andersson, Chemical Engineering Refinery Industry Manager, Global Technology, Alfa Laval.

This energy efficiency volume could significantly contribute to your refinery reaching <link the Paris Agreement> on time. Thankfully, modern technology makes it possible to capture and reuse the excess heat from processes economically and allows you to use it for other purposes, such as heating or generating electricity.

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Small investments add up

Smaller projects are often faster to implement and carry less risk. By selecting the right opportunity, the impact is often substantial.        

For <link to case Preem, Sweden's largest fuel company>, where sustainability is central to operations, such an investment led to increased profitability and reduction of CO2 emissions and, thereby, their environmental footprint.

In 2012, following a wide-ranging energy audit, they decided to replace four traditional shell-and-tube heat exchangers with a single Alfa Laval Compabloc welded plate heat exchanger in the atmospheric distillation process – the most critical and energy-intensive process, where crude oil is separated into different fractions.

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Better recovery and reuse of energy

"The investment [in a Compabloc welded plate heat exchanger] lowered our energy use substantially, and it's brought down CO2, sulfur, and nitrogen oxide emissions," says Gunnar Olsson, Technical Director at Preem. Preem estimates they've cut 14,600 tonnes of CO2 emissions, which equals taking 30,000 cars off the road.

$2.2 million annual savings

In purely economic terms, the energy efficiency improvements based on the Compabloc heat exchanger are worth about $2.2 million annually. Preem has extended its investment in technology and plans to install welded plate heat exchangers throughout the refinery process.

Easier maintenance is a bonus

In the refinery process, there are often major problems with residue deposits on the surface of the heat exchangers, which reduces heat transfer efficiency and increases the hydraulic resistance – a factor that can lead to reduced capacity. Using Alfa Laval Compabloc exchangers in these applications means fewer problems with fouling, which leads to greater overall efficiency and sustainability gains. "There is definitely less fouling on the Compablocs compared to the shell-and-tube exchangers we used before, so they require less maintenance," says Ibrahim Tahric, Mechanical Engineer at Preem.  More information about this case can be found here <link to case>.

Proven results

The refinery business is known for being highly conservative in introducing new technologies. However, Eva Andersson sees a trend among refineries; they start with testing one Compabloc exchanger and then make a larger investment once they have seen the results. "Both the business case and the environmental benefits for the Alfa Laval Compabloc exchangers are strong. When I list the advantages, people often don't believe that all of it could be true, but then they try it out and discover that it holds up," says Eva.

Small steps taken early in the process maximize impact

The next step to reduce energy efficiency or improve your process does not have to be big or expensive. But it is essential that process optimization using efficient heat exchanger technology occurs at the very beginning of the project to maximize the benefits and have the most significant impact. Late in the project, some of the benefits of using compact heat exchangers are impossible to realize as the process design is already fixed.

Start early and start small

Energy savings of up to 23% is highly achievable. To begin, start early and start small – find a partner and optimize your process in incremental steps. By selecting an experienced partner, such as Alfa Laval, with more than 30 years of process optimization experience, the speed of the overall project execution is increased. And, by starting early, you can maximize the process efficiency, minimize capital expenditure and improve the environmental sustainability of your plant and project.

For more information on partnering with Alfa Laval, contact us or visit our website <link>.

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