Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Refinery And Petrochemicals Integrated Development (RAPID) Project

Project Description

RAPID aims at building a world-scale integrated refinery and petrochemical complex.The proposed refinery will have a capacity of 300,000 barrels per standard day and will supply naphtha and liquid
petroleum gas feedstock for the RAPID petrochemical complex, as well as produce gasoline and diesel that meet European specifications.
The petrochemical units, on the other hand, will enhance the value of the olefinic streams coming from the RAPID steam cracker by producing various merchant grades petrochemicals products such as polyethylene, polypropylene, synthetic rubbers and other petrochemicals products.

Engineering and Construction

FEED Contract

Technip has been awarded a front-end engineering design (FEED) contract by PETRONAS for its proposed Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) project located in the state of Johor, Malaysia.

Technology Contract

CB&I was awarded a contract by PETRONAS for the license and engineering design work for five petrochemicals units. Lummus Technology will be providing technology for a world scale steam cracker complex comprising ethylene, butadiene, benzene, isobutylene and MTBE units.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Insulation is everywhere

Corrosion is undoubtedly one of the costliest problems facing industry today. Due to corrosion of piping and equipment under insulation many companies have to repair and/or replace major parts at a considerable cost, reported to run into billions of dollars annually. Clearly this considerably reduces the potential service life of industrial facilities. More frequently, essential shutdowns and overhauls impair plant efficiency, driving up operating costs.

Industrial plant insulation is everywhere. A medium-sized oil refinery contains 356 miles of insulated piping and more than 25 football fields worth 1.4 million ft² of insulated equipment, vessels and tanks. The plant temperature can easily exceed 1100°F, making insulation essential to protect people and maintain operational efficiency.

Prompt and proper maintenance
In many cases, insulation is not promptly or properly maintained,simply because it is not considered to be a risk. For years,industry has estimated that 10% to 30% of exposed insulation becomes damaged or missing within one to three years of installation. That percentage is likely to rise over time, depending on the operating environment and exposure to the elements. Many plant operators know that steam-generating capacity must be increased when it rains to continue to provide the heat the plant needs to operate efficiently.

Damaged insulation leads to increased heat losses and corrosion costs
The impact of damage can be substantial. In many cases, the actual reduction in heat loss is up to 40% more than expected. Damaged insulation cladding often allows water to penetrate into the insulation, which can cause corrosion. Costs due to corrosion,downtime and additional unanticipated energy losses are substantial. The costs of inspection and repair, which can often be carried out during operation, are negligible compared to the potential savings


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Corrosion under Insulation/Fireproofing (CUI) - Corrosion Inspection


Sunday, August 10, 2014

CUI vs. Energy Savings

Many industrial facilities—particularly oil refineries and petrochemical plants located near the ocean or a sea, or in areas where it rains a lot—suffer from both CUI and energy waste when insulation becomes damaged. When insulation systems age or become damaged, the caulk sealant cracks and the metal jacketing can open up gaps where rainwater—which may contain salt—intrudes.

If the insulation is an absorbent type and the service temperature is relatively low (below 300°F), then CUI can result. The heat loss from wet insulation may be as much as 10 times that for dry insulation. This can be a constant battle at older facilities because the caulk used to seal metal jacketing embrittles with time, and the metal jacketing itself may get dented, opening gaps and admitting water.

To prioritize maintenance work at refineries, petrochemical plants, and chemical plants, owners typically perform a risk assessment of the piping and equipment. These assessments help prioritize the most important items from the perspective of plant operation and/or plant safety. This risk assessment can be used to identify those areas where insulation needs to be repaired or replaced sooner rather than later since problems, such as CUI, can result in a partial facility shutdown or, worse, in a pipe or equipment leak.

To mitigate CUI, many refinery owners apply immersion-grade coatings to all piping and equipment that operate continuously at temperatures below 300°F. Some owners also require the use of non-absorbing insulation materials for all service temperatures. While the practice of using non-absorbing insulation is not prevalent everywhere, it is becoming increasingly common at facilities.

With today’s high energy costs, which make up approximately half the operations and maintenance costs at a typical refinery, maintaining insulation is a matter of economics. However, damaged insulation does not usually stop a facility from running. Operators simply increase the heat input to maintain process temperatures as required. Many refineries have had to increase the heat input during and immediately after heavy rains to compensate for water absorbed into the insulation at their facilities. One oil company engineer notes that it can take at least 3 days to dry out absorbent insulation following heavy rains at the company’s refineries. So even for pipes and equipment operating at temperatures above 300°F, where CUI is less likely to occur, energy waste from wet insulation is always a concern with water-absorbing insulation.

Using non-absorbing insulation materials is one approach to preventing wet insulation and CUI. Another approach is to add a chemical inhibitor to the absorbent insulation during manufacturing. Such chemical inhibitors reduce the probability of corrosion by inhibiting the corrosive effects of chlorides from saltwater and other sources. Insulation with chemical corrosion inhibitors is available in the marketplace.

A new technology that helps avoid CUI when using absorbing insulation materials is self-adhering laminate jacketing—thick tape that comes in 36-inch widths to match the pipe insulation width. The jacketing can be effectively sealed to itself with overlaps along the lap joints and with a minimum of 4-inch-wide, self-adhering tape—of the same material as the jacketing—applied at butt joints, junctions, and penetrations. Self-adhering laminate jacketing requires minimal caulk sealants and is available in weather-resistant, chemical-resistant forms. 

Since it uses only a thin-coated aluminum foil as opposed to aluminum sheet, laminate jacketing also uses much less aluminum, which has skyrocketed in price over the past few years. The laminate jacketing is flexible and dent-resistant. Since the adhesion of the material to itself is so tight, this new technology promises to be an effective way of keeping water from intruding into absorbent insulation materials on above-ambient applications.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Maintenance of Below-Ambient Applications

There are a variety of different types of ducts, pipes, and equipment that operate below ambient temperature. The primary purpose of the insulation in these cases is to prevent surface condensation and reduce energy use. The cost penalties of surface condensation vary from application to application, but having condensation within the insulation can be severe. 

For example, in typical indoor commercial heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) applications, condensation can get into electrical equipment, run onto floors creating a safety hazard, or damage building materials. Wet insulation, in turn, performs poorly, possibly leading to condensation on the surface of the jacketing and energy waste. It can also increase the load on mechanical cooling equipment, possibly resulting in a compressor getting overloaded and burning out. In industrial applications, condensation may corrode the carbon steel onto which it drips, increasing maintenance costs. Overall, water condensation will create all sorts of costly operational headaches that the facility owner should make an effort to avoid.

Porous insulations, such as mineral fiber insulation, can be used on below ambient applications as long as they are covered with a low-vapor-permeance jacketing, referred to as a vapor retarder. It is prudent to use these systems on air-handling ductwork down to a moderate temperature of about 50°F. A drawback to this type of insulation system is that, over time, holes or other imperfections may develop in the jacketing and could allow water vapor intrusion that then condenses on the cold surface, resulting in wet insulation. Since such holes can easily be patched with self-adhering tape, periodic inspections should be conducted to identify and repair these spots before condensation problems develop.

For chilled temperatures below 50°F, such as chilled water pipes, and/or for a relative humidity (RH) above 90 percent, a more robust system—either from an overall low water vapor permeance perspective or a wicking capability—is required. A lower permeance jacketing should ideally be a zero-vapor-permeance material (called a vapor barrier) that is extremely well sealed to itself to prevent any water intrusion. These zero-permeance jacketing materials include both sheet plastic and a self-adhering laminate. For wicking capability, the wicking type of fibrous pipe insulation can provide performance free of vapor condensation problems on chilled water lines down to about 40°F in less than extreme humidity conditions. Both types of systems, however, must be well maintained to avoid water condensation problems.

When well maintained, closed cell foams, which have low vapor permeability values, are well suited for below-ambient systems with minimum maintenance problems. The thicker the insulation, the lower the vapor permeance (vapor permeance equals vapor permeability and thickness). In general, these closed cell foams perform well with chilled water systems and high relative humidity. However, all seams and butt joints must be well sealed. Breaks in the seals and gaps in the closed cell foam insulation material will allow water vapor to intrude; this water vapor, in turn, will condense. This condensation may take more time to develop than with a porous, fibrous insulation material, but with a constant high vapor pressure, it will eventually result in water accumulation in the insulation. This will compromise its thermal performance and lead to the types of condensation problems already mentioned.

For outdoor applications where weather protection is required and/or for very high vapor pressure differential indoor conditions, these closed cell insulation materials perform best when combined with a zero-permeance vapor barrier (as opposed to a vapor retarder). In an actual application, if such a vapor barrier jacket is used, it must be sealed completely to prevent water intrusion or water vapor condensation within the insulation. Certain sheet plastic materials and the new self-adhering, laminate jacketing materials—mentioned earlier for high-temperature systems—can simultaneously provide both weather and vapor barrier protection for below-ambient systems.

For extremely high humidity conditions combined with low operating temperature systems, located either indoors or outdoors, a zero-vapor-permeance system with redundancy will perform best. This can be achieved with at least 2 inches of inorganic cellular insulation covered with the appropriate vapor barrier jacketing. The jacketing should have zero vapor permeance, and the 2 inches of inorganic cellular insulation will have near zero vapor permeance. Further, this type of cellular insulation will not absorb water, should it somehow condense against the insulation. Such an insulation system, however, still requires maintenance to prevent moisture condensation over time. The jacketing must be periodically inspected for holes, and the inorganic cellular insulation must be periodically inspected for any physical damage that might reduce its thickness, leading to surface condensation.

Regardless of the insulation type or low-vapor-permeance jacketing, the insulation system for below-ambient applications should be well designed and well maintained. In most cases, if the insulation system is ignored and/or abused, eventually water condensation problems can occur. The penalty to the owner can be water damage to stored materials, building materials, and equipment, as well as mold growth, energy waste, and cooling system overloads.
The Bottom Line
Well-maintained thermal insulation reduces heat loss and saves money. Damaged insulation saves less money, and missing insulation saves no money at all. With crude oil at about $65 per barrel, delivered heating oil at $2.50 per gallon, and delivered natural gas at more than $10 per million Btus, every day spent ignoring damaged or missing insulation is another day of paying the high cost of wasted energy.

Two years ago, crude oil was trading at about $50 per barrel. Since then, crude oil has sold for as much as $77 per barrel, and now gasoline is selling for a record average price of $3.20 per gallon. People keep waiting for energy prices to drop, but even when prices drop for a few months, they jump up again to an even higher level than they were previously. This is no time to waste energy. Thermal insulation maintenance is easy and inexpensive when compared to energy prices. Those in the insulation industry need to help the managers of industrial facilities understand the economics of insulation.

Whether the motivation is to reduce energy use, to prevent CUI, or to maintain boiler temperatures, when it comes to thermal insulation and its maintenance the old saying, “Pay now or pay later,” is appropriate. The cost of not maintaining insulation correctly is too great for facility owners to ignore.


Happy Deepavali

The festival of light is here! May you be the happiest and may love be always with you. Happy Deepavali!