Tube Tech Improves SMR Ethylene Convection Section Efficiency through Cleaning and Fouling Removal

At the Tüpraş Izmir Refinery in Turkey, Tube Tech’s fouling removal robot successfully contributed to a remarkable 3% increase in thermal efficiency. By addressing the challenge of fouling on the convection bank tubes within a steam methane reformer, our expertise was evident in this case study focused on ethylene convection section cleaning, fouling, and efficiency optimization.


The Challenge – Removing Convection Tube Fouling within SMR

The Tüpraş Izmir Refinery faced performance degradation due to fouling accumulation on the convection bank tubes in the steam methane reformer. Since its commissioning in 1993, the inaccessible location of these tubes had hindered effective cleaning. Our advanced fouling removal robot was chosen to overcome this challenge, enabling access, and restoring heat transfer efficiency.

Initially, the plant experienced reduced heat transfer efficiency, increased fuel consumption, and elevated flue gas temperature within the steam methane reformer. These issues were linked to the replacement of adsorbents in the Pressure Swing Absorption Unit during a turnaround. The displacement of screens in one of the beds resulted in fouling accumulation on the convection bank tubes.


The Solution – Restoring Heat Transfer Efficiency in the Ethylene Convection Section

To rectify this situation, Tube Tech’s specialist fouling removal robot, recognized for its successful operation in challenging environments around the world, was deployed. The project leveraged our expertise in reaching hard-to-access areas, leading to the restoration of heat transfer efficiency.

During a planned turnaround period, the patented fouling removal robot was used, penetrating deep between tube rows and effectively removing over 90% of fouling. Traditional methods, on the other hand, typically manage to clean only approximately 30% of the convection bank. The successful completion of the project occurred within a time frame of just 60 hours.

Tube Tech Improves SMR Ethylene Convection Section Efficiency through Cleaning and Fouling Removal

The Outcomes

1. Decreased Hydrogen Production Cost and Positive ROI:

By carrying out the project, the average cost of hydrogen production reduced from $943.9 to $919.3 per ton, resulting in a noticeable decrease of $24.6 per ton. The project achieved a significant payback period of under 60 days, demonstrating a positive return on investment (ROI).

2. Improved Flue Gas Temperature:

The project led to a notable decrease in the average flue gas temperature from 278°C to 220°C, positively impacting the furnace’s thermal efficiency. This translates to a substantial 3% increase in thermal efficiency.

3. Enhanced Steam Production:

Steam production witnessed an approximate increase of 20%, accompanied by a steam temperature elevation of 10°C-15°C.

Tube Tech Comment

“This was a great project to be a part of; we often come across convection banks that have never been cleaned before, simply because they are deemed inaccessible or too difficult to restore to design efficiency.

Conclusion of another Successful Ethylene Convection Section

In conclusion, Tube Tech’s expertise in ethylene convection section cleaning, fouling removal, and efficiency optimization played a pivotal role in resolving the challenges faced by the Tüpraş Izmir refinery. Through successful implementation, the project resulted in significant improvements, including decreased hydrogen production cost, improved thermal efficiency, and enhanced steam production.

The IGS Surface Solutions Package

As well as Tube Tech’s fouling removal services, the refinery also utilized another IGS solution by applying a Cetek high-emissivity coating onto the refractory surface to increase radiant section efficiency. For the PTQ article discussing this project, DOWNLOAD HERE.

More About Cetek

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Facilities that choose to apply Cetek can expect long-term performance and significant ROI.

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