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Revamp of LAB Plant

A leading manufacturer of petrochemicals in India reduced their LAB slippage to less than 5% and improved its Acid Color Index, which measures the quality of the LAB, to the desired level, using Munters' mass transfer equipment and service.

Process Overview
LAB (Linear Alkyl Benzene) is the reaction product of n-paraffin and benzene. The LAB plant consists of PACOL unit (i.e. a reactor) and recovery unit (consisting of paraffin column, re-run column and recovery column).

The output from the reactor consists of un-reacted paraffin, LAB and HAB (Heavy Alkyl Benzene) forms the feed to the paraffin column. The paraffin column separates the un-reacted paraffin from the product and by-product i.e. LAB and HAB respectively. The re-run column in the loop then separates LAB and HAB. Further, in the recovery column LAB, which has slipped along with bottoms of re-run column is separated out. The LAB extracted from the re-run and recovery column need to have high purity and desired Acid Color Index (ACI).

Customer Requirements

  • Maximize recovery of LAB thereby limiting the slippage to < 5%
  • Improve Acid Color Index to a range of 20-25

Acid Color Index is the measure of purity of LAB. LAB is mixed with 98% sulphuric acid (H2SO4) and the color index of the LAB sulfonate is measured. Good quality sulfonate (water like color) must have a color index of 20-25.

Problem analysis
Munters studied existing system; the slippage of LAB in the recovery column was found to be more than 15% and the Acid Color Index was 30-35, sometimes even reaching 60.

It was concluded that:

  • The existing Pall Rings had performance limitation
  • The existing distributor and redistributors were found to be inadequate to achieve proper distribution quality

Solution provided
The LAB plant was hydraulically rated using Medal-Pak® and high-performance distributors. The LAB slippage was found to be within 5-7%.

Recommendations to the customer

  • Replacement of existing Pall Ring with high-performance Medal-Pak® tower packings
  • Replacement to high-performance distributors and re-distributors to improve the quality of distribution

The tower internals and tower packings were manufactured, supplied and installed accordingly.

Results achieved
Plant capacity was increased by 20%. LAB slippage was reduced to less than 5% and the ACI also improved to the desired level.

Hurtige fakta

  • Customer: Petrochemical industry
  • Location: Western India
  • Tower Name: Paraffin recovery unit
  • Tower Diameter: 1200 mm to 4500 mm
  • Mass Transfer Equipment: Random Packing (Medal-Pak®) and Tower Internals

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