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CLIENT SURVEY:

TRACERCO Diagnostics™ - Leak Study

Leak Detection on a Distillation Column Reboiler System

Tracerco were recently requested by a major European petrochemical company to both identify and quantify the extent of a leak that was suspected of coming from a reboiler system on a distillation column, as it was effecting the overall efficiency of the separation chain.

Heat exchanger

The system consisted of two reboilers operating in parallel, as per Figure 1. The operator wanted to identify the leaking reboiler (or reboilers) so that it could be taken off line and either replaced or repaired during the planned shutdown. Following consultation with the customer, Tracerco decided to use the TRACERCO Diagnostics™ Leak study technology, utilizing novel short half-life radioisotope tracers, and non-intrusive detectors, to identify and quantify the leak.

The tracer was injected into the heat transfer stream feeding the reboiler that was suspected of leaking using a secure injection rig and a series of non-intrusive detectors were placed at several positions on both the inlet and outlets of the reboilers (both the process stream and the heating stream). These detectors were then connected to a central data collection system so that the results of the study could be shared with the customer immediately.

Tracer injections

A total of five injections, all within a hour of each other, were carried out to ensure that sufficient statistical data was achieved to give precise results. The results of the TRACERCO Diagnostics™ Leak study clearly showed that the No. 2 reboiler was leaking at a rate of approximately 1.3% of the total heat transfer fluid flow and that No.1 reboiler was not leaking at a rate greater than 0.3% (the level of detection for this system).

The petrochemical operator has now planned the repair of the No. 2 reboiler during its quarter two planned maintenance shutdown when it plans to use the TRACERCO Diagnostics™ Leak study (helium leak) technology to identify the position of the leak within the reboiler.

If you would like to know more about the TRACERCO Diagnostics™ Leak study or any other TRACERCO Diagnostics™ technique please don't hesitate to contact us.

 
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