(536d) The Future Is Here: Robotic Catalyst Removal - Field Results 2018

Authors: 
Jansen, C. R., WorleyParsons
Sloley, A. W., Advisian (WorleyParsons Group)
Schroeder, S., Advisian
WorleyParsons has been developing new technology using vacuum catalyst removal from refinery and petrochemical vessels via a remote-operated, screw-propelled vehicle. The development of CAROLTM (Catalyst Amphirol) responds to increasingly stringent requirements to reduce human risk in inert confined-space entry. It is the culmination of a three-year development effort from conception and design to prototyping and testing and represents a potential game-changer in the industry.

The number of fixed-bed catalytic vessels in the global refining and petrochemical industryis estimated to exceed 58,000. Based on current technology a rough estimate of the number of worker days of risk exposure due to confined-space entry during catalyst unloading exceeds 10,000 days per year. Current practices for catalyst removal from each of these vessels pose a risk to safety and/or the environment. This remains true regardless of whether dumping, vacuuming, or water flooding is employed. CAROLTM provides an alternative option that minimizes risk to workers.

CAROLTM is a simple, one-of-a kind machine that has been demonstrated to achieve vacuum catalyst removal without the placement of workers inside the vessel. A review of operating characteristics in a single bed test vessel is provided. Additionally, two case studies from plant demonstrations are examined:

  • Catalyst removal from a narrow naphtha hydrotreater at a refinery in the United States.
  • Adsorbent removal from a wide dehydration vessel at an LNG plant in Australia. This test is underway at the current time.

This paper showcases the challenges associated with current catalyst removal techniques, and the inherent safety advantages that CAROLTM has shown. The presentation includes video of the test vehicle operating characteristics and discussion on industry acceptance progress and preliminary test results.

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