(147b) Carol Robotic Catalyst Unloading – Results from Field Trials

Authors: 
Jansen, C. R., WorleyParsons
Sloley, A. W., Advisian (WorleyParsons Group)
Schroeder, S., Advisian
WorleyParsons has developed the industry’s first commercial robot for catalyst unloading from refinery and petrochemical vessels. The development of CAROLTM (Catalyst Removal 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. CAROL 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.

The number of fixed-bed catalytic vessels in the global refining and petrochemical industry is 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. CAROL provides an alternative option that minimizes risk to workers.

A review of the beta test phase of the technology development is provided including details from the successful commercial field trials. One case study demonstrates CAROL eliminating the need for confined space entry under inert conditions during adsorbent unloading from a dehydrator. CAROL is also shown to successfully remove the remaining material after a dumping operation, at temperatures not suitable for human entry.

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

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