Project Synopsis

Develop a process simulation tool to assist refinery operations in maximizing the profitability of their atmospheric crude distillation tower.

Project Summary


Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) was contracted by the client, an independent U.S. petroleum refiner, to develop a computer process simulation model for their atmospheric crude distillation tower.  The process included a front-end preheat train and followed by a number of distillate cuts (naphtha, kero, diesel, atmospheric gas oil [AGO], and reduced crude bottoms stream). The client wanted to optimize their crude unit for maximum profitability from a product mix standpoint based on frequent changes in the pipeline crude slate composition, utilities costs, product sales prices, etc.

PROCESS' used licensed commercial computer process simulation software to develop the simulation model and resulting flowsheet. PROCESS developed an MS Excel file with automated Visual Basic programming that extracted process information from the simulation file. The Excel file contained the process flow mass and energy balance tables and customized input/output tables that contained summary information for key process data. PROCESS also conducted client personnel training to instruct the client how to manipulate the programs and simulation to make future changes. The Excel/CHEMCAD package was developed to allow the client to evaluate multiple feedstock cases and analyze operating costs for each case. These tools allowed the operations engineer to input daily operations parameters and cost factors, run the simulation, and output the results to determine what changes needed to be made in the unit in order to maximize the units’ profitability.


Industry Type

  • Petroleum refining

Utilized Skills

  • Simulation tool development
  • Crude tower simulation
  • Simulation interface development
  • Plant profitability support

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