To avoid costs potentially running into millions of dollars, AEA Technology, by using advanced ultrasonic techniques, has enabled Saudi Aramco to test components without shutting down one of its refineries for a long period.
Saudi Aramco wanted to undertake Fitness for Service evaluations of the combined feed heat exchangers at one of its refineries. The heat exchangers are critical items in the key catalytic reforming unit. The process stream contains hydrogen at very high temperatures and components can be at risk from cracking resulting from ‘high temperature hydrogen attack’ and ‘creep’.
Traditional methods of checking the heat exchangers involve access to the interior of the vessels, which can involve extended shutdowns. By using specially developed advanced ultrasonic testing techniques AEA Technology engineers were able to do the work in just two days during a routine regeneration shutdown. They were looking for microscopic fissures caused by hot hydrogen attack which could have led to cracks. No damage was found and the refinery was able to come on stream again after its routine regeneration.
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