Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Method makes refineries more efficient

Date:
December 25, 2009
Source:
Purdue University
Summary:
Refineries could trim millions of dollars in energy costs annually by using a new method developed to rearrange the distillation sequence needed to separate crude petroleum into products.

Refineries could trim millions of dollars in energy costs annually by using a new method developed at Purdue University to rearrange the distillation sequence needed to separate crude petroleum into products.

Related Articles


The researchers have demonstrated their method on petroleum plants that separate crude, showing that 70 of the new sequences they identified could enable oil refineries to improve the energy efficiency of this step anywhere from 6 percent to 48 percent, said Rakesh Agrawal, the Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering.

"This is important because improving efficiency by 10 percent at a refinery processing 250,000 barrels per day would save in excess of $12 million a year if oil were priced at $70 a barrel," said Agrawal, who is working with doctoral student Vishesh Shah. "And that's just a single refinery. For the U.S. petroleum industry as a whole, this is a huge potential savings."

Research findings appeared online this month in the AIChE Journal, the official peer-reviewed journal of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and will be included in a future issue of the magazine.

Chemical plants spend from 50 percent to 70 percent of their energy in "separations," which are usually distillation steps required to separate a raw material into various products. In the case of petroleum, four distillation columns are needed to separate raw crude into five separate components -- naphtha, kerosene, diesel fuel, gas oil and heavy residue. Some of these components are later used to make gasoline.

"Separations are a huge part of what chemical plants do," Agrawal said. "Improving efficiency by only a few percentage points translates into major savings. For every 100 barrels of oil distilled, nearly two barrels go into supplying energy for distillation. That's a lot of oil."

Crude petroleum is fed into the system, heated and vaporized. Vapor rises up the first column, and the product is collected in a condenser at the top. The process is repeated in additional columns, with the number of columns depending on how many components are to be separated.

But the distillation is more energy efficient depending on the order in which the columns are operated.

"There are many ways to arrange the columns," Agrawal said.

Shah created a computer algorithm that identifies all of the possible sequences and then determines which require the least heat and energy. The Purdue researchers used their new technique to determine there are nearly 6,000 possible sequences for the four columns used in petroleum distillation.

"Once we know all of the possible ways they can be arranged, then we can tell you which ones have the potential to be the most energy efficient," Agrawal said.

Petroleum refineries have been using the same sequence for about 75 years, and it is the most energy efficient of the sequences known to industry, the Purdue researchers confirmed using their new method.

The researchers also determined, however, that 70 of the new sequences identified have potential to consume less energy than the sequence now used by industry. Those 70 sequences range from being 6 percent to 48 percent more energy efficient than the method currently in use.

"However, just because a particular sequence would be more energy efficient doesn't mean it would be practical for industry to implement," Agrawal said. "There are a lot of challenges. Some are easy to build and just involve trivial retrofitting, and some are more difficult. So we'll need to work with companies and refinery experts to determine which sequences could be built."

The U.S. Department of Energy's Industrial Technology Program funded the research.

The journal paper was written by Shah and Agrawal. Previous, related work also involved Arun Giridhar, a Purdue postdoctoral researcher. As a supplement to the paper, the researchers also provided more than a gigabyte of data on all of the distillation sequences identified using the technique for the separation of mixtures containing up to eight components.

Purdue has filed a patent application for the new crude distillation sequences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Purdue University. The original article was written by Emil Venere. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Purdue University. "Method makes refineries more efficient." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091222105229.htm>.
Purdue University. (2009, December 25). Method makes refineries more efficient. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091222105229.htm
Purdue University. "Method makes refineries more efficient." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091222105229.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) Brave Robotics and Asratec teamed with original Transformers toy company Tomy to create a functional 5-foot-tall humanoid robot that can march and fold itself into a 3-foot-long sports car. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Police Testing New Gunfire Tracking Technology

Police Testing New Gunfire Tracking Technology

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A California-based startup has designed new law enforcement technology that aims to automatically alert dispatch when an officer's gun is unholstered and fired. Two law enforcement agencies are currently testing the technology. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins