Distillation Column Inspection

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Gary R. Martin
Process Consulting Services Inc.
P.O. Box 1447
Grapevine, Texas 76099-1447

Brad Fleming
Jaeger Products, Inc.
4035 Schilling Way
Dallas, Texas 75237

Scott W. Golden*
Process Consulting Services Inc.*
3400 Bissonnet
Suite 260
Houston, Texas 77005

Presented at the
The 3rd International Conference and Exhibit on
Improving Reliability in Petroleum Refineries and Chemical Plants
November 15-17, 1994

Abstract copyrigh Andrew W. Sloley

Distillation column equipment represents a significant percentage of the petroleum refining, petrochemical, and chemical industry fixed-capital investment. Proper operation of the distillation column internal and peripheral equipment depends on the design, fabrication, and installation of the internal equipment. When a column is shut down during a maintenance turnaround or to correct a problem, column internals require quick inspection to determine equipment repair requirements. Additionally, inspection is the last opportunity to find design, mechanical, and installation errors in revamped equipment.

Inspection is not an exact science that is amenable to rote checklist procedures. Distillation systems processing the same feedstock often have unique features. Inspection is more an art practiced by experienced field personnel such as Norm Lieberman. It is generally a very hot and dirty business that many engineers do not like to perform. As computerization takes over many aspects of distillation system design and operation, the tools required to be a competent field inspector increasingly reside with a small number of practitioners. There are few hard-and-fast rules because each distillation column system is unique. Nevertheless, practical application examples of inspection philosophy, guidelines, checklists, and case studies for some equipment are included.

33 pages including 39 tables and figures.
Electronic version available in Adobe PDF format file 023.PDF 568k.

* Current affiliation.

This page updated June 1, 1999.
© 1999 The Distillation Group, Inc. All rights reserved.