Reactors – the heart of a refinery

Written by Edward Aaron-Obelley, Product Marketer for Simulation and Learning, AVEVA

Reactors are often referred to as the heart of a refinery—and for good reason. Both the heart and reactors are vital for a healthy, functioning system. The heart is a powerful, intricate muscle at the center of the circulatory system, taking in blood low in oxygen for replenishment, and pumping oxygenated blood to other organs. When the circulatory system is not operating efficiently as a result of, say, heart disease, it can cause major complications throughout the body. This is also akin to reactors. Reactors are incredibly sophisticated pieces of chemical engineering equipment, designed to perform chemical reactions that take place in the presence of a catalyst between reactants. When not designed accurately, they will perform suboptimally, resulting in an overall poorer performance of the entire process. Just like maintaining heart health, your reactors must be functioning efficiently for a successful operation, and with AVEVA PRO/II Simulation’s new reactor models, you can give life to your refinery.

heart of refinery

Rigorously model your reactors

So how do we ensure that our reactors are operating efficiently? Well, one way is through conducting case studies and operational analysis on the reactors in the process plant itself. However, this is a very time-consuming and expensive process as you will need to run the refinery. An alternative method is to use an established reactor design from a refinery process similar to your own. This alternative is a good starting point, but it won’t allow you to optimize your reactors for your specific process. The most cost-effective and ideal solution is to model your reactors using a process simulator. Reactor modeling is a valuable tool in reactor design because it allows you to predict system behavior under various operating conditions without the need for costly and unproductive experimentation.

AVEVA PRO/II Simulation’s new reactor models enable users to rigorously model and optimize their reactor units, mitigating the risk of bottlenecks and costly delays. With a variety of different reactor models available, all based on the proven models of AVEVA Process Optimization, these reactor models can accurately predict your plant’s behavior across a wide range of operating conditions.

You can use AVEVA PRO/II Simulation’s new reactor models to:

  • Perform economic assessments of reactor conversion and yield behavior
  • Conduct case studies to:
    • Assess economics and sustainability impact between configurations
    • Mitigate bottlenecks
    • Perform sensitivity analyses
  • Enhance process design for:
    • Changes in feed quality and conditions
    • Operating modes
    • Analyzing changes in design configurations
  • Support linear programming (LP) vector updates

The list of reactor models available in AVEVA PRO/II Simulation is growing. They include:

  • Isomerization
  • Visbreaker
  • Delayed Coker
  • HF Alkylation
  • H2SO4 Alkylation
  • Hydrotreater
  • Hydrocracker

Enable innovative and sustainable technologies

With stricter environmental regulations emerging and greater government funding to incentivize sustainable industries, transitioning your refinery to support sustainable technology has never been more urgent. Currently, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is expected to grow at a CAGR of 60% over the next decade, further cementing the need for the transition. The refining industry needs to produce innovative processes faster than ever to decarbonize and develop plants that accommodate new sustainable products and feedstocks. Technologies, such as carbon capture and storage, renewable diesel synthesis and green and blue hydrogen, are essential for decarbonization and producing energy sustainably. When process engineers can optimize reactors and analyze changes in design configurations, they can make the transition to more sustainable energy production smoother and less expensive.

Ready to take your refinery operations into the future? Read the datasheet