Computational Fluid Dynamics in Equipment Design and Failure Analysis

Fuels and Petrochemicals Division
AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety
April 30, 2013 - 10:20am-10:50am
In 2007, the BASF TOTAL PETROCHEMICALS LLC Ethylene Steam Cracker installed a total of 5 welded plate heat exchangers.  These units serve as primary process quench water coolers for the quench tower service.  These units began to experience failures after 3-4 years of service which resulted in lost opportunity and environmental impact to the plant.

A root cause failure analysis was performed on these units and the results were then checked and validated using computational fluid dynamics (CFD).  .  Once this analysis was validated using CFD several engineering solutions were then checked and validated with this technique.  The purpose of this paper is to describe the analytical process to deduce the root cause; the verification of the root cause using CFD, field analysis, and destructive analysis, and the design of potential solution using CFD. This experience offers an alternative for design using CFD where applicable for welded plate heat exchangers.

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