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Evolution of Ethylene Plant Compression Systems Disclosure Number: IPCOM000217473D
Publication Date: 2012-May-08
Document File: 20 page(s) / 2M

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The Prior Art Database

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Session: 85 Paper: a

Evolution of Ethylene Plant Compression Systems

Sanjeev Kapur

Manager, Olefins / Polyolefins Business Group ABB Lummus Global Inc.

Leonard Schaider

Manager, Equipment Engineering Kellogg Brown and Root

Hans Weyermann

Chief Engineer -Rotating Equipment Stone and Webster

Prepared for Presentation at the 2000 Spring National Meeting Atlanta, GA, March 5-9, 2000
Opportunity for Increasing Ethylene Plant Profitability and Reliability through Enhancement in Compression Systems


March 6,2000

AIChE shall not be responsible for statements or opinions contained in papers or printed in its publications.

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Evolution of Ethylene Plant Compression Systems


The design and manufacturing technology of compressors and turbines applied in ethylene plant services has evolved significantly over the last thirty years. This paper presents a historical perspective for evolution of compression systems vis-a-vis ethylene manufacturing technology. The significance of compression systems in an ethylene plant is self evident for the following reasons:

The capacity limit of a single train ethylene plant is traditionally set by the charge gas compressor capacity.

The energy requirement of compression systems represents between 10 to 20% of the overall specific energy consumption of an ethylene plant.

The compression systems contribute between 25 to 35% of inside battery limit equipment cost.

These systems are not spared, and therefore, long intervals between maintenance turnarounds as well as high plant availability and reliability are desired.

Compression systems, being long delivery items, determine the overall project execution schedule.

The combined power consumption of the main compressors in a modern, large-scale ethylene plant is in the range of 75,000 -85,000 kW (100,000 -115,000 horsepower). Therefore, the efficiency of these machines and the steam turbines that drive them play a significant role in determining the economy of operation and the profitability of the plant. In addition, ethylene plant operation demands high reliability to ensure high on-stream factors and longer intervals between maintenance turnarounds. Technology advances have provided opportunity to increase plant capacities significantly, and at the same time, improve both efficiency and reliability, thereby improving the overall economics of manufacturing ethylene.

Plant Capacity and Ethylene Plant Specific Energy

The capacity range of large scale ethylene plants from 1970 to 2000 is shown in Figure 1. The maximum capacity of ethylene plants has increased from nearly 450 kMTA (nearly 1 Billion Ibs per year) to nearly 1150 kMTA (2.5 Billion Ibs per year). The range of capacities covers various feeds and geographic regions. The specific energy consumption ranges are presented in Figure

2. The specific energy consumption for gas crackers dropped from nearly 6700kcaUkg (12000 Btu/lb) in 1970 to below 3300kcaVkg (6000 Btu/lb) for-...