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Debottlenecking Revamps

Once a plant is built and operations has pushed its performance envelope, the next logical step for increased capacities is incremental debottlenecking. Maximizing your existing plant’s capacity with little capital expenditure can greatly increase profitability since fixed costs stay relatively constant while income increases. Usually an existing plant can be debottlenecked much cheaper than new facilities can be built. Some plants have been debottlenecked several times so that their actual capacity is several times their original design capacity! Some inexpensive debottlenecking items that can lead to large capacity increases follow:

  • Optimize the process flow and tower feed and draw locations.
  • Install extended surface tubes on shell and tube exchangers. Remember to account for the smaller tube ID’s and hence higher pressure drops.
  • Consider de-passing exchangers to alleviate high pressure drops. This can many times be done very inexpensively, but the exchangers should be modeled before changes are made.
  • Replace 1" exchanger tubes with ¾" tubes for more surface area.
  • Install high capacity trays or packing in highly loaded zones.
  • Install feed preheat on heat limited or towers that are flooding in the bottom section.
  • Reduce feed preheat on towers limited by flooding in the top section.
  • Consider using idle or used equipment for debottlenecking.