PEFTEC 2019 - Abstract

Abstract Title: DIP-MS, a valuable tool aiding fouling mitigation
Abstract Type: Poster
Session Choice: Analytical Techniques: Mass Spectrometry
Presenter Name: Mr Gerard Kwakkenbos
Company/Organisation: SABIC T&I GTC Europe Analytical
Country: Netherlands

Abstract Information :

A turnaround of a petrochemical thermal cracking plant on average occurs once every 6 years. During such an event, cleaning and maintenance of the different sections of the cracker are performed. Fouling of the plant's internals (e.g. heat exchangers) which are deposits of extraneous material (mainly polymers and corrosion related compounds), occurs while processing hydrocarbon feeds. Fouling can be responsible for enormous extra costs due to increased fuel usage, less efficient operations, interrupted operation (e.g. unplanned stop to clear blockage), production losses and increased maintenance costs. A turnaround typically gives the opportunity to reach areas that are usually not reachable during normal operations for collecting fouling samples.

In order to treat and prevent fouling, to ensure and improve the proper operations of a naphtha cracker, it is importance to better understand fouling origins and its formation mechanisms. As the fouling sample may be a complex mixture of inorganic and organic constituents, a broad number of analytical techniques (FTIR, CHN, XRF) are normally used in order to characterize the fouling sample. Direct insertion probe?mass spectrometry (DIP?MS), based on the introduction of samples without pretreatment directly into the ionization chamber , sample vaporization and eventual constituent ionization, is an excellent tool to assess the identity of the organic content adding valuable information to the results other techniques provide.

In this work we present examples of the use of the DIP in combination with Sector-MS instrumentation as an important part of a combined instrumental analysis approach to identify fouling samples and more importantly to infer the reaction chemistry that may have caused these deposits to occur. We analyzed several different real life fouling samples from a petrochemical thermal cracking plant producing ethylene using the technique. The information DIP-MS provided on various classes of real life samples was compared and contrasted for its usefulness in troubleshooting the plant.