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TRACERCO Diagnostics™ - Leak Study

Source of Water in Product Stream Identified

Process engineers were baffled by a dramatic increase in the water concentration in their ethylene glycol product stream. They sought the help of Tracerco to pinpoint the source of the problem. In the design of this plant, the pre-concentrator overheads, consisting of 170 psi steam, were used to heat the reboiler of the concentrator, while the bottoms from the preconcentrator was the concentrator feed. The question was, did the excess water get carried over with the feed , or was there a leak in the concentrator reboiler?

Tracerco used their TRACERCO Diagnostics™ Leak Study technique to test the concentrator reboiler using a radioisotope tracer. A small quantity of tracer was injected into the overhead stream from the pre-concentrator.

Leak study

As there wasn’t a sample point available on the reboiler return to the concentrator, samples were taken off the column bottoms and overheads. The samples were analysed for tracer using liquid scintillation counting. A 7% leak in the overheads and a 5% leak in the bottoms was indicated. This result related well with the excess water showing up the product, thus eliminating alternative causes. The reboiler was taken off-line, repaired, and the plant was brought back on stream making good quality product.

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