Cooling Water Networks generally do not receive due attention from engineers and are usually overlooked in comparison to other critical equipment. Simulating the plant cooling water network can identify opportunities to increase operational efficiency, availability, and throughput. Flow networks are usually modeled using specialized hydraulic modeling tools. However, heat transfer effects on the process due to changes in cooling water network also need to be studied in detail. This paper describes how process simulation tools (Aspen Plus, Aspen Plate EDR, etc) were used for modeling the cooling water networks and further utilized for trouble-shooting and optimizing production at a major ethylene facility:
Case Study – Trouble-shooting an Ethylene Plant Cooling Water Network
A hydraulic model for the ethylene plant cooling water network was developed using Aspen Plus and utilized to perform various what-ifs in order to ensure flow availability to critical cooling water exchangers. This model was further utilized to check the exchanger and network’s adequacy at increased plant capacity and devise various modification options. The throughput through the entire plant was able to be increased due to the enhanced cooling.
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