Reformer Reactor System Cleaning

Refined Technologies has completed an ever-growing number of reactor loop cleaning projects. This one is unique because it utilized hot nitrogen as the carrier for the high solvency QTRX2 cleaning chemistry.

The Challenge

RTI was approached by a Client in the Gulf States to effectively remove LEL from their Reformer Reactor system in preparation for the removal and reclamation of the precious-metal catalyst. Their existing procedure called for a complete regeneration, involving significant downtime and more than $350,000 in expenditures for temporary piping, caustic and effluent handling. Furthermore, the reactors were of a radial flow design, with flow through “scallops” which tended to retain hydrocarbons making the reactor more difficult to degas. The client needed a more creative means to effectively clear and degas the unit while significantly reducing time and expense.

The Solution

Working with the Client, Refined Technologies’ Operations professionals, who are former process unit supervisors from the refining segment, developed a procedure to clear the unit using RTI’s patent pending QTRX2 process. This novel application used high temperature/pressure nitrogen as a carrier for the cleaning chemistry. RTI provided a detailed procedure, a mechanical needs list and on-site support to spearhead the process.

Once the unit was de-inventoried, a nitrogen pumper truck was used to backfill and maintain pressure in the Unit as it was purged to the Flare Gas Recovery Unit. The existing furnace was used to bring the temperature up to RTI’s requirement prior to injection. Once the system reached optimum temperature, QTRX2 was simultaneously injected into multiple bleeders.

Although low points were completely drained before the cleaning chemistry was injected, significant amounts of gasoline flowed from them during the cleaning. Client personnel were amazed at the volume of gasoline that was extracted from the catalyst bed by the chemistry even though the system had been purged with hot nitrogen just prior to introducing QTRX2.

The system was de-inventoried at 0800 and over the course of one day the unit was pressured up and circulated with nitrogen and injected with QTRX2. When it was tested at 2040 there was a residual VOC of 3.6 ppm but all other gas readings were zero.

The Client’s expectations were exceeded since their expenses were reduced and the unit was cleared two days ahead of schedule. For additional information on this process, please contact Refined Technologies at 1.888.634.3183 or