Acetylene is produced as a by-product during the pyrolysis cracking of hydrocarbons in ethylene plant furnaces. Typically the acceptable acetylene contaminant level in the polymer grade ethylene product is in the range of 1 ppmv or lower. Since acetylene will fractionate with ethylene, it needs to be removed before the C2 fractionation step. An acetylene converter (or acetylene hydrogenation reactor) is a widely used unit operation for the conversion of the acetylene to ethylene and/or ethane in the ethylene plant.
Acetylene hydrogenation (in an ethylene plant) is a highly exothermic reaction. If reactor operating conditions are not carefully controlled, the reaction temperature excursions may occur and will cause safety issues in the plant. An integrated reactor safety system is essential for the safe operation of the ethylene plant.
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