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Revising An Ethylene Feed Saturator for Increased Reliability

Timothy M. Zygula
Houston, TX

Karl Kolmetz
Sulphur, La 70664

Randy Sommerfeldt
Koch-Glitsch, Inc.
4111 East 37th Street North
Wichita, Kansas 67208

Prepared for Presentation at the
The AIChE 2003 Spring National Meeting
April 1, 2003
New Orleans, Louisiana


The authors will present the case of an ethylene feed saturator column. The column was experiencing severe fouling problems, with the maximum length of run time the column between turnarounds low. The column was designed as a packed column. The packing used in the initial design of the column was random packing.

The authors will detail the steps taken to troubleshoot and revamp the column. An overview of the revamp design for the column will be detailed in the article. The authors will also present operational data from the feed saturator column. The authors will do a complete comparison between the operational data before the column was revamped and after the column was revamped.

The choice of packing material and distributor design is crucial to maintain the reliability of a fouling service column. The revised design has been reliable 28 months with no increase in pressure drop, compared to four months of low pressure drop service with the original design.

The packing material should have a large open area to reduce fouling potential, but with adequate mass transfer capabilities. The distributors should be designed to allow distribution of the fouling service liquid without accumulating fouling material. The design used in the feed saturator has met each of these challenges.

This was the first industrial application of the "Zygula / Kolmetz Heat Transfer Distributor".

Revising an Ethylene Feed Saturator

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