Evaluation of flow distribution inside an ultraformer reactor
An Ultraformer at a refinery produces a high-octane blending component and mixed xylenes for chemical feedstock from hydrotreated heavy naphtha (sulfur and nitrogen removed to non-detectable limits) by converting paraffins and naphthenes to aromatics. It has been observed that hotspots develop in the tail reactor and large amounts of coke form in the catalyst bed, which must be burned off slowly during regeneration.
The objective of this project was to use computational fluid dynamics simulations and virtual reality simulations to investigate the flow patterns and optimize the operating conditions to prevent flow maldistribution problems. Several reaction layers exist within the utraformer. These layers, along with the geometry, and parameters of the fluid, all greatly affect the flow patterns.
Using fluid simulations and virtual reality, the problem was exemplified and thus validated the simulations. The specific flow pattern related to the build up of coke in the catalyst bed was also illustrated and analyzed. Modifications to the original model where made to investigate changes to the scenario. Overall the project reached its objective by accurately displaying the flow patterns within the Ultraformer and provided a guide for potential solutions to the problem.
Click the movie below to see the Ultraformer Reactor in detail.
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Faculty Collaborator: Chenn Q. Zhou
Sponsor: BP Whiting