The changing landscape of the ethylene industry requiring more feedstock flexibility and upstream and downstream integration increases the complexity of cracker design and management exacerbating challenges traditionally present in ethylene plant operations such as the fouling phenomena. The cracked gas compressor is one of the most critical piece of equipment in an ethylene plant and may be the limiting factor in ethylene plant performance optimization. The high potential for severe fouling leads to deterioration of plant performance with associated significant economic penalties in energy and productivity losses.
Ethylene producers often employ ad hoc approaches to the selection of the washing medium, the washing methodology, and the monitoring system in order to combat efficiency losses. This has led to mixed results and difficulties in the correct assessment of the compressor performance.
This paper will focus on how GE Energy's ethylene industry compressor design, asset monitoring systems and antifoulant technologies are translated into an integrated approach to achieve fouling control based on the knowledge of the various aspects that influence the performance of a compressor. New micro sensors, dynamic monitoring technology will allow for an accurate measurement of the actual polytropic efficiency that, when compared to the manufacturer’s design data, provides real-time accurate information on the condition of the machine. That results in a direct correlation between current fouling levels and the success of antifouling treatment program, wash oil injection, water injection or a combination of these. This online monitoring technology is a significant improvement of current industry capabilities. This technology provides advanced tools needed by the ethylene producer to manage plant performance to achieve optimal efficiency and production capacity.
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