Butane and pentane management is key to saturates gas plant operation for overall refinery gasoline pool economics. The process engineer must comprehend a maze of operating conditions to evaluate downstream effects that result for the cut point of the debutanzier. Thinking of the debutanizer as a distillation unit to remove normal butane and lighter components, perfect separation would be perceived as 100% of normal butane and lighter components in the debutanizers overheads without any isobutane or heavier components. Obviously, perfect separation will not be found in a refinery since capital investment must be balanced against operating costs to arrive at an acceptable economic payout. As a result of this inefficient separation, it is sometimes more beneficial to think of the debutanizer as having a cut point instead of separation between normal butane and isopentane. Proper understanding of recovery options from the debutanizer can greatly improve refinery operating economics. A case study is presented.
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