As margins rise and fall, as is expected in the ethylene industry, the decision to revamp existing plants versus building a new grassroots plants changes. When margins are high, new grassroots plants are built. When margins are lower, revamps of the existing plants may be the preferred option to increase current profitability. The goal is to optimize present operations by utilizing personnel and technology to improve product recovery and reduce energy consumption. A revamp of an ethylene plant can be initiated due to any number of reasons. These could include a combination of health, safety and environmental requirements, expansion of nameplate, and process improvements.
The chosen objective will be the driving force to sustain the momentum of the exercise. The first step in a revamp is a plant load test. This test needs to be conducted to establish the baseline scenario as well as to test the available margins in the system. Accurate data will need to be collected from this data or else, the effort put into the load test will be in vain. A proper test run is not a random affair to be carried out on the spur of moment. Test runs require forethought, planning and proper coordination to yield useful data.
Our goal is to cover the purposes of a revamp, the required planning and preparation for a load test, execution steps and a direction on where to move on after the load test. The authors will share Titan's experience in conducting a high load test, especially in the foundation framework established and the challenges faced during execution. The load test conducted at Titan's Cracker 2 was a success in identifying unit limits points and guiding future expansions.