New technologies and solutions will be presented at PRC Europe 2018, on the focus-exhibition by the leading service providers of the market. The special focus this year is driven to process safety, automation, OpEx, asset management and new regulations.

Dr. Jens Kitzhofer, R&D Manager, will present APEX Group’s innovations in order to Reduce Plant Operational Expenses and Increase Reliability and Efficiency of Fired Heaters.

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Reducing Plant OpEx by Increasing Reliability and Efficiency of Fired Heaters.
Theses of the presentation

APEX Group designs and manufactures heavy-duty plate-type heat exchangers, handling large volumes of gases for heat recovery and gas treatment applications. The operation principle consists of passing cold gases (e.g. air) and hot gases (e.g. flue gas) through alternating parallel channels in cross or countercurrent arrangement.

In refineries, the heat exchangers are applied, inter alia, as air preheaters for fired heaters, which constitute the process heart of a refinery. Due to the pre-heated air, the efficiency of the combustion process is greatly increased. Overall, the installation of a heat exchanger, as part of the fired heater system, considerably reduces the operational expenses (OpEx) due to a lower fuel consumption. The downside is that conventional air preheaters are prone to failure by corrosion and plugging or just underperformance resulting in unexpected and costly stoppage of the fired heater system and of the downstream unit operations, accompanied by large OpEx.

With respect to 45+ years of experience in the field of heat exchanger design and manufacture, APEX Group is proud to present APEX-delfino® Technology. This advanced plate-type technology offers increased reliability, reduced risk of operational failure due to protection against corrosion and plugging, and safe operation under predefined conditions.

APEX-delfino® Heat Exchangers are designed with proprietary design software, which is validated by years of experience and extensive laboratory and field measurements such as pressure drop, temperature measurements by thermocouples and velocity fields by modern laser optical measurement techniques (Laser Doppler Anemometry and Particle Image Velocimetry). The in-house design software is a well-calibrated tool ensuring an accurate design of the heat exchangers under a multitude of process conditions. For optimal integration into refinery fired heater system design, we use computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and this guarantees a reliable operation of the equipment and in consequence of the complete fired heater and of the downstream process train.

Reduced maintenance
APEX Group products are developed and designed with a minimum need for maintenance. This is achieved through our Free-flow™, Air-Curtain®, A-CORREX® and APEX-delfino® Technology, which help reduce OpEx as well as CapEx.

Predictive maintenance
The performance of the heat exchanger can be monitored during operation by various techniques, such as differential pressure instrumentation applied to detect disturbances in the flow path through the heat exchanger. Another technique is that surface temperature sensors should be used to detect violations of the minimum metal temperature. APEX Group developed CORRO-EYE® solution in order for the cold-end to be monitored through imaging. The presentation will focus on each technology that ensures the reduction of OpEx, by reduced and predictive maintenance.