(2a) The Future Is Here: Robotic Catalyst Removal

Authors: 
Sloley, A. W., Advisian (WorleyParsons Group)
Jansen, C. R., WorleyParsons
WorleyParsons has been developing new technology using vacuum catalyst removal from refinery and petrochemical vessels via a remote-operated 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.

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. The CAROLTM robot/ROV provides an alternative that minimizes risk to workers.

CAROLTM was recently used at a commercial facility for the first time. At an LNG Plant in Australia CAROL was successfully used to remove more than 1750 cubic feet of molecular sieve catalyst from a dehydration bed under inert conditions. The unloading was completed without requiring manned entry until the vessel was opened to air, achieving a catalyst unloading rate of up to 240 cubic feet per hour.

The initial unloading with CAROLTM exceeded expectations. Because of this the work scope was increased. As a result unloading time was significantly reduced compared to previous turnarounds.

This presentation 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, preliminary test results and lessons learned.

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