Handling heavy, highly viscous fluids puts very tough demands on bitumen oxidation process equipment. Traditional shell-and-tube heat exchangers typically become highly inefficient in such services. With their special corrugated plate design, compact Alfa Laval Compabloc heat exchangers deliver high heat transfer efficiency even when handling highly viscous media.
Optimizing refinery bitumen oxidation processes
Alfa Laval has broad expertise in utilizing our heat exchangers to optimize refinery processing, including bitumen oxidation, for the oil industry.
Bitumen oxidation temperatures of up to 300°C make energy recovery very important. Energy is recovered by preheating feed to the oxidizer, using the oxidized bitumen. The more energy that is recovered, the less energy needs to be provided in the final heater.
Traditional shell-and-tube heat exchangers are very inefficient when handling highly viscous media, such as vacuum residue and bitumen. This means that the heat transfer area required for the service must be very large.
In addition, the high heat recovery means that several large, bulky shell-and-tube heat exchangers in series are required.
High efficiency Alfa Laval heat exchangers maximize energy recovery using minimal heat transfer area. This significantly reduces the energy input required for final preheating as well as the cooling capacity for final bitumen cooling.
Mitigating fouling in bitumen oxidation processes
Heating vacuum residue to the high temperature required for oxidation can sometimes cause severe fouling problems. This is especially true when using traditional shell-and-tube heat exchangers, where very low channel velocities often result from handling highly viscous media.
High-efficiency Alfa Laval Compabloc heat exchangers feature corrugated heat transfer plates, which promote turbulence and shear stress. This minimizes fouling tendency and maximizes heat transfer efficiency. Downtime and maintenance costs are also reduced, thanks to easy access to the heat transfer channels when cleaning is required.
Traditional shell-and-tube heat exchangers can be expensive because several large, bulky units in series are required to recover energy from oxidized bitumen. Compact, high-efficiency Alfa Laval heat exchangers reduce investment and installation cost, while maximizing efficiency on minimal plot space.
Proven technology for refinery bitumen oxidation
Alfa Laval has more than 50 heat exchangers operating as interchangers, pre-heaters and coolers in bitumen oxidation plants. These deliver savings on capital expenditures as well as on energy and maintenance costs.