Process Improvement Engineering, Consultants and Engineers An Affiliate of:
P M B 267
5000 W. Esplanade
Metairie, Louisiana 70006 USA
Tel: 1+504 887 7714 • Fax: 1+504 456 1835




By Norman P. Lieberman


ISBN 978-1-59370-176-5


1. Crude Distillation : Interpreting Pressure Drop Data / Eliminating Black Gas Oil /   Troubleshooting Problems (Decreased Fractionation; Upset Tray Decks; Improper Heat Balance /  Raise Pumparound to Save Energy / Light Naphtha End Point / Dirty Naphtha) / Steam Stripping Cat Cracker Feed/ Causes of Inadequate Stripping / Steam Stripping Summary / Stripping Steam Rates / Diesel Oil Stripping / Jet Fuel Stripper / Bottom’s Stripper / Leaking Draw-off Trays / Overhead Condenser Corrosion / Exchanger Train Fouling / Preflash Towers / Troubleshooting Checklist for Crude Unit 
2. Delayed Coking Cycles : Process Description / The Coking Cycles / Foam Overs /  What to do if a Coke Drum is Not Ready / Coke Quality / Coke VCM / Time-Pressure-Steam / Coke Physical Structure / Shot Coke / Common Coke Quality Questions / Fighting Long Coking Cycles / Time Saving Details / Making the Switch / Vapor Valve Operation / Keep Drain Free / Water Filling / Decoking Crew / Unheading / Drainage Problems / Coke Cutting / Heading Up / Hot Coke / Steam Test / Warm-up / Problems in Reducing Cycles  / Warm-up Condensate Recovery / Green Wax / Troubleshooting Checklist for Delayed Coker Cycle Problems
3. Delayed Coking Processes : Delayed Coker Heater ( Mass Velocity & Heat Flux; Feed Interruptions; Velocity Steam; Sodium; Light Resid; Foamovers; Parallel passes; Steam-air decoking; On-line Spalling) / Wet Gas Compressor (Fouled Overhead Condenser; Vapor-Line Restrictions; Wet Gas Compressor Rotor Fouling) / Combination Tower (Explosion Resistant Trays ; Energy Savings) / Coke Drum Cycles Affect Combination Tower Operation  (Minimizing Coke Yields) / Troubleshooting Checklist for Delayed Coking Process
4. Amine Regeneration and Scrubbing : Dirty Amine (Field Checking & Assessing Color & Appearance of Lean Amine) / Problems Caused by Dirty Amine (Foaming; Plugging Instrument Taps; Condenser Fouling; Reboiler Tube Failures; Filter Plugging; Regenerator Flooding) / Cleaning Up Amine (Corrosion Inhibitors; Reboiler Corrosion / Regenerator Feed Temperature) / Reclaimer Operation (Washing the Reclaimer; How Much Soda Ash to Use; Extending Reclaimer Tube Life; Using A Reclaimer Instead of a Filter) / Foaming (early Warning System; Causes & Cures of Foaming; Liquid-Liquid Amine Scrubbers; Declining Amine Strength) / Retrofitting Tips (Velocities; Rich Amine Flow Control; Reflux Water pH; Reboilers; Regenerator Internals; Amine Dehydration) / Cut Reboiler Steam Usage (Safety Note; Minimizing CO2 Recovery) / MDEA and DIPA / Other Problems (Poor Sweetening; Brown Amine; COS Removal; Hydrocarbon Skimming) / Troubleshooting Checklist for Amine Systems
5. Sulfur Recovery : Sulfur Recovery Chemistry / Process Flow / What Can Go Wrong (finding Lost Conversion; Measuring Sulfur Losses; Wrong Air Ratio; Plenty of Catalyst; Reactor Problems; COS and CO2; Leaking Reheat Exchanger; Sulfur Fog; Cold Reheat Gas; When to Change Catalyst) / Pressure Drop (Carbon Deposits; Leaks Cause Pressure Drop; Preventing Boiler Leaks; Condenser Leaks; Routine Pressure Surveys; Plugged Seal Legs; Shortened Seal Legs; Catalyst Support Screens) / Start-Up Tips (Avoid Deficient Oxygen; Start-up Atmospheric Vent) / Maximizing Plant Capacity / Oxygen Enrichment / Fail-Safe with O2 /  Bypass Reheat Exchanger / Increased Front-End Pressure / Hydrocarbon in Acid Gas / Water Vapor and Carbon Dioxide / Reactor Inlet Baskets / Other Modifications / Pyrophoric Iron (& Safety Note) / Tail Gas Clean-Up / Troubleshooting Checklist for Sulfur Plants
6. Alkylation : The Alkylation Process / Process Flow / What Can Go Wrong / Acid Carryover / Physical Acid Carry-over / Chemical Acid Carryover (Loss of Acid Strength; Low Isobutane Concentration; Reduced Acid Circulation; Poor Mixing; Propylene Alkylation; High Temperature) / Emergency Response to Acid Runaway / Improving Alkylate Octane (Upgrading Effluent Treating; Additives) / Hydrofluoric Acid Alkylation (Propane Stripper; Reduced Alkylate Quality; Depropanizer Reboiler Limits; Methyl-tributyl Ether (MTBE) Unit Carryover; Isostripper Turndown) / Troubleshooting Checklist for Alkylation / Safety Note
7. Fluid Catalytic Cracking Units : Catalyst Steam Stripping (Riser Temperature Control with Steam Stripping; Optimum stripping Steam Rates with high CO in Regenerator Flue Gas) / Plugged Spent Cat Steam Stripper Distributor / Catalyst Poisoning Affects Wet Gas Compressor Performance  (What is Flow Reversal; Surging Wet Gas Compressor; Compressor Surge Affects Regen Slide Valve; Causes of Increased Hydrogen Production; Resid Entrainment into FCU Feed) / Catalyst Regeneration Problems (Air Grid Troubles; Insufficient Air; Regenerator Size and Spent Catalyst Distribution; Identifying Air Grid Damage) / Catalyst Deactivation (Thermal Deactivation; Hydrothermal Deactivation; Loss of Antimony Flow; Sodium and Other Metal Contamination; Catalyst Deactivation versus Refractory Feed) / Reducing Regenerator Temperature / Troubleshooting Cyclone Malfunctions (Dipleg Unsealed; Plugged Dipleg; Dipleg Failure) / Air-Blower Problems / Catalyst and Feed Mixing / Troubleshooting Checklist for Fluid Catalytic Cracking Units
8. FCCU Product Fractionation : Entrainment and Flooding Problems / Superheated Reactor Vapor Affects Tower Capacity (The Bubble Effect; Vapor Line Quench) Fractionator Difficulties (Observed Flooding; Observed Loads; Liquid Loading Sensitivity; Capacity Comparison; Heat Transfer Coefficients; Structured Packing Heat Transfer; Height Equivalent to a Theoretical Stage; Fractionation Efficiency; Reflux Distribution; Elimination HCO Drawoff) / Feed versus Slurry Heal Exchanger Leaks (Gasoline Production) / Vapor Recovery Unit (Recontact Drum Overcondensation; Stripper Inefficiency; Hydrogen Blistering; Low Propylene Recovery; Formation of Diolefins) / Troubleshooting Checklist for FCCU Product Fractionation
9. Saving Energy at Reduced Feed Rates : Steam Turbine Hand Valves / Pump Impellers / Motor-Driven Centrifugal Compressors / Reciprocating Compressors / Modify Exchanger Pass Partitions / Reduce Tray Leakage / Steam Balance / Insulation / Overfractionation / Overabsorption of Light Ends / Vacuum Ejectors / Leaks / Troubleshooting Checklist to Save Energy at Reduced Throughputs
10. Refrigeration Systems : Is Refrigeration Efficiency Falling / Diagnosing Refrigeration Compressor Problems (Short of Horsepower; Cooling the Motor; Steam Drivers; Valves a Problem on Reciprocating Compressors; Refrigerant Composition; Speed-limited; Accumulator Relief Valve; Minimum Suction Pressure Problems; Importance of the Throttle Valve; Missing Accumulator Drum)  / Evaporator Problems( Drown Tubes in Refrigerant; Increasing Plant Throughput; Evaporator Fouling) / Refrigerant Condenser Difficulties / Troubleshooting Checklist for Refrigeration Systems 
11. Centrifugal Pumps : What Can Go Wrong / How Pumps Work / Rattling Equals Cavitation (Cavitation on Start-Up; Origins of Cavitation; Starting Troublesome Pumps; Consequences of Cavitation) / Oversized Pumps Surge / When Not to Pull a Pump / Internal Recirculation Worn Out Impeller; Blowing Seal; Safety Note) / Upgrading Seals for Reduced Seal Flush Flow / Balanced Seal Faces / Rough Running (Cavitation; Driver Limits; Bad Bearings; Impeller Balance) / Check Spare Pumps / Avoiding Motor Failures / Expanding Pump Capacity / Reduction of Line Delta Pressure Drop / Troubleshooting Checklist for Centrifugal Pump Problems
12. Distillation Towers : Light Hydrocarbon Distillation / Control Problems / Flooding (Jet Flood; Measuring Tray Pressure Drop; Confusing Incidents; High Liquid Level Induces Flooding; Vertical Temperature Survey; Two-Phase Bottom Level Problem; Foaming; Expanding Tray Capacity; Damaged Trays; Liquid-Filled Towers; Reflux Changes; Level Control) / Reboiler Problems (Trapout Pans; Plugged Reboilers; Repair of Trapout Pans; Steam-side Problems; Blown Condensate Seal) / Reflux Problems (leaking Vapor Bypass Control Valve; Back-flushing Condensers; Water Velocity; Air-Cooled Condensers; Air Recirculation; Condensed Liquid Drainage; Reasons for Condensate Subcooling; Reducing Liquid Subcooling; Vapor-Bound Condensers) / Distillation Tray Types / Troubleshooting Checklist for Distillation Towers / References
13. Vacuum Towers : Loss of Bottoms Pump Suction Pressure (Insufficient Quench; TGO pan Overflows; Gland Oil; Suction Screen; Air Leak) / High Flash-Zone Pressure (Thermal Cracking) / Ejector Problems (Air Leaks; Motive Steam Quality; Condensers; Plugged Seal Legs; Ejector Internals; Black Gas Oil) / Excessive Production of Trim Gas Oil / Low Pumparound Draw Temperatures / Light Resid / Steam to Heater Passes / Projects to Improve Gas-Oil Recovery / Transfer Line Failures / Furnace-Tube Failures / Troubleshooting Checklist for Vacuum Towers
14. Treating Liquid Hydrocarbons : Ailments / Components / Carryover Problems (Missing Interface Level; Mix-valve Pressure Drop; Experiment in Settling Time; Turn Down Circulation Pump) / Correct inadequate Treating (Mass-Transfer Limits; Equilibrium Limitations) / Vertical Wash Towers (Find That Rag; Poor Treating) / Water Washing / Ammonia / Drying / Haze in Jet Fuel / Electrostatic Precipitator / Troubleshooting Checklist for Treating Liquid Hydrocarbons 
15. Process Heaters : Draft (Definition of Draft ; Likely Causes of Insufficient Draft) / Combustion Air Supply (Trimming Burner Operation; Excess Air Benefits) / Optimizing Heater Draft (Excessive Draft; Plugged Draft Gauges) / Insufficient Air / Optimizing Excess Air (flue Gas Oxygen; Flame Appearance; Fin Tube Damage; Sealing Skin Leaks) / Convection and Radiation / Draft Measurements / Leak Prevention / Air Preheaters /Preheater Vibration/ Other Ideas to Save Energy / Measuring Heater Temperatures / Spotting Hot Tubes (Cooling Overheated Tubes; Coke Deposition) / Oil Burning / Heater Huffing & Puffing / Expanding Heater Capacity (Draft-Limited; Heat-Absorption Limited) / Troubleshooting Checklist for Process Heaters
16. Water Coolers : Plugged Tubes (Back-Flushing; Air Bumping; Acid Cleaning) / Calculating Water Flow Rate / Hydrocarbons Leaking into Cooling Towers / Warm Cooling Water / High Exchanger Outlet Temperature / Water-Side Fouling (Biological Growth; pH Control; Cycles of Concentration) / Monitoring Exchanger Fouling / Evolution of Air from Cooling Water / Troubleshooting Checklist for Water Coolers
17. Alarms and Trips : Steam Turbine Trips (Trip Mechanism; Emergency Lube-Oil Pumps) / Liquid Levels /High Liquid Level Alarms / Distillation Tower Overpressured  / Automatic Temperature Shutdowns / Water Shot Damages Trays / Low-Flow Trips / Eliminating unnecessary Trips / Lights Out on Control Panel / A Word of Caution / Troubleshooting Checklist for Alarms and Trips
Section 3
18. Additional Distillation Problems: Reboiler-Induced Foaming and Flooding / Identifying the Incipient Flood Point (high Liquid Levels Cause Flood; Effect of Foam: External Indications of Foam; Preflash Towers) / Flood Control / Instrumentation Malfunctions / Excess Feed Preheat / Slug Flow in Risers / Hydrocarbons in Steam / Heat Integration Causes Upset / Composition Causes Instability (Temperature Controller Fooled / Condensing Capacity Exceeded) / Steam Reboiler Condensate Seal / Marginal Condensate Drainage / Tower Flooding / Theremosyphon Reboiler / Turndown Problems / Troubleshooting Checklist for Distillation Problems
19. Fouled Trays : Propylene-Propane Splitter / Amine Regenerator / Gas Absorber / Alkylation Depropanizers / HF Alkylation Iso-Strippers / Cleaning Fouled Tower Internals / Troubleshooting Checklist for Dirty Trays
20. Dehydrating Light-Ends Towers : Alkylation Depropanizer / Water-Removal Trays / Water Trap-out Tray / Procedure Checklist for Tower Drying
21. Vapor-Liquid Separation : Inlet Nozzle Submerged / Vortexing / Entrainment (Demisters; Centrifugal Separators ; (Foaming; Distillate Hydrogen Systems; Centrifugal Separators) / Foaming (Water Causes Foaming; Rapid Depression; Detecting Foam Levels; Defoamer) / Troubleshooting Checklist for Vapor-Liquid Separation Problems
22. Refinery Metallurgy for Novices : (Metals Commonly Used in Refinery Service / Stainless Steel Nomenclature (Field Identification of Pipe) / Corrosion Resistance (Sulfur; Pitting; Weld Leaks; Naphthenic Acid / H2S / Hydrogen Blisters; H2 Attack; Sulfuric Acid; Ammonium Hydrosulfide; Carbon Dioxide; Stress Cracking; Admiralty Cracking; Cracking Stainless Steel; Polythionic Acid Cracking) / The Dangers of Embrittlement / Metallurgy in Extremely Rigorous Service (Titanium; Monel; Carpentor 20; HK-40; Alonizing; Plastic Liners) / Heat Exchanger Tube Fouling / Troubleshooting Checklist for Corrosion Failures
23. Unusual Noises and Vibrations: Rotating Equipment (High Discharge Pressure; Low Suction Flow; High Suction Temperature; Cavitating Pump; Oversized Pumps; Excessive Vibration) / Heat-Transfer Equipment (Harmonic Vibration; Thumping Furnace; Pass Partition Failure; Hydrocarbon Leaks; Water Hammer) / Screeching Control Valves (Vibrating Control Valves; Roaring Control Valves) / Gurgling Stripper / Troubleshooting Checklist for Noises and Vibrations / Suggested Readings
Section 4
24. Natural Gas Drying : Glycol Pump Deficiencies (Indications of Reduced Glycol Circulation; Glycol Regeneration Temperature; Leaking Feed-effluent Exchanger; Further Improvements) / Flooding Dehydrator Towers (fouling Versus Flooding; Plugged Trays) / Dehydration Capacity Versus Temperature (Glycol circulation versus Tray Capacity; Tray Design; The Critical Variable – Reboiler Temperature; Overheating Glycol) / Troubleshooting Checklist for Gas Drying
25. Gas Compression-Centrifugal and Reciprocating : Centrifugal Compressors (Surge; Stopping Surge; Overloading the Driver; Suction Throttling; Surge in Variable-Speed Machines) / Reciprocating Compressors (Evaluating Lost Compression Horsepower; Unloader Failure; Compression Work versus Temperature Rise; Cylinder Temperature Measurement Technique; Interpreting Beta Scans; Reducing Valve Losses; Rod Loading; Gas Engine Drives) / Unloading a Reciprocating Compressor (An Unanticipated Temperature Change; Adjustable Clearance Pockets; Suction Scrubber Vessels; Intercooler Temperature)  / Troubleshooting Checklist for Gas Compression
Section 5
26. Suggestions for New Process Operating Engineers : Drawing the Unit Flowsheet,/ Learning the Outside Operators Functions / The Control Board / Bottlenecks / Your First Performance Test

Planning a Performance Test : How to Start (Laboratory; Instruments;  Interfacing with other units; Shift Operators; Mechanical Department; Flag Sheet; On-Stream Analysers) / The Day Before the Test (Sample Containers; Sample Points; Pressure Points;  Optimize Unit; Written Instructions) / The Day of the Test / Correlating the Data (Material Balance; Energy Balance; Calculating Missing Flows; Hydraulic Losses; Pumps) /
Performance Test Checklist

28. Understanding Control Board Instruments : Set Point / Cascade Control / Control Valve Position / Computer Control Consoles (SP; PV; The Relevant Valve Position) / Data Monitoring on Computer Consoles / Zeroing an Instrument / Tuning Instruments (Proportional Band; Gain; Offset; Reset Rate – Derivative) / Tuning Summary / Ziegler-Nichols Tuning Method / Control Room Instrument Checklist /
29. How to Make Field Measurements : Pressure Surveys (Correction for Elevation; Manometers; Differential Pressure Measurement in Distillation Towers) / Temperature (Infrared Surface Temperature Indication)  / Flows (Measuring Steam Flow to a Reboiler; Measuring Flow from a Vessel; Gas Flows) / Drilling out Bleeders / Sampling Techniques (Gasoline Vapor Pressure; Weathering; Hot Oil; Gas Samples) / Levels / Troubleshooting Checklist for Field Measurements
30. Turbines, Expanders and Variable Speed Motors : Steam Turbines / Thermodynamics in Action / Windage Losses / Adjusting Turbine Speed / Malfunctions / Calculating Turbine Horsepower / Overspeed Trip / Condensing Steam Turbines / Variable AC Motors /Roto-Flow Turbo-Expander/ Gas Fired Turbine/ Effect of Rotor Fouling / Power Recovery Turbine (Fluid Catalytic Cracker Units –FCU; Hydrocracker Reactor Effluent / Troubleshooting Checklist for Turbines, Expanders, and Variable Speed Motors
31. Forced Draft Air Coolers : Effect of Air-Side Fouling / Excessive Shroud-to-Fan Tip Gap / Other Methods to Increase Air Flow / Water Spray / Slipping Belts / Air Leaks / Process-Side Problems / Tube-Side Fouling / Air Louvers / Troubleshooting Checklist for Forced Draft Air Coolers

Advances in Heat Exchanger Design: Stainless Steel Tubes / Low Fin Tubing / Sintered Metal Tubes / Unequal Seal Strips / Advanced Techniques / Tube Inserts / Twisted Tubes Helical Tube Support Baffles / Spiral Heat Exchangers / Practical Ideas to Enhance Heat Transfer Efficiency / Troubleshooting Checklist for Advances in Heat Exchanger Design


Positive Feedback Loops: Surging Centrifugal Compressor / Exploding De-Aerator Atmospheric Vent / Fired Heaters Stalling / Stalling a Thermosyphon Reboiler  / Troubleshooting Checklist for Positive Feedback Loops

34. Troubleshooting Control Loops: Troubleshooting Condenser Level / Override Control – Colorimeter to Tower Pressure / Flow Control Gone Wild / Misleading Differential Temperature / Coke Drum Overpressure Incident / Summary / Troubleshooting Checklist for Troubleshooting Control Loops
35. Texas City - BP Refinery Fire: Level Indication / Flow Indication / The Start-Up / Engineering Aspect / Vapor Lock / Summary / Comments / Troubleshooting Checklist for Texas City-BP Refinery Fire
36. Environmentally Friendly Process Concepts: Wasting Seal Flush / Optimizing Pump Impeller Sizing / Variable Speed Centrifugal Pumps / Turbine Hand Valves / Flare Sweep Gas / Wasting Hydrogen / Insulation Integrity / Sampling Residuals and Asphalt / Convective Section Air Leaks / Air-Fuel Mixing Efficiency / Air Preheaters / Optimizing Excess Oxygen / Calcining Cement / Exchanger On-Line Spalling / Distillation Tower Pressure / Methane Emissions at the Wellhead / Centrifugal Compressors Using Gas Turbine or Turbine Drives / Slug Washing Exchangers / Troubleshooting Checklist for Environmentally Friendly Process Concepts
37. The People Problem: Working with Shift Operators / Reporting to Refinery Management  / Working with Operating Superintendents / Role of a Process Consultant
Appendix - Tray Delta P, Water Dew Pt., Bubble Pt. Calculations

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