A study begins with detailed data collection at the plant site. Time is spent collecting equipment specifications for the plant including:
- Catalyst loadings and ages
- Furnace design
- Compressors including performance curves
- Heat exchangers
On the day of the performance test all control room and field instrumentation is recorded.
An infrared temperature gun is used to read process and cooling water temperatures and a portable oxygen analyzer is used to record O2 levels where available in the furnace and flue gas ducting. Plant support is required for a full set of laboratory analyses as well as a detailed pressure survey using a test gauge.
The data collected is analyzed using proprietary software specifically written for the ammonia, methanol, and hydrogen industry. An overall material balance is calculated and this is used to define all plant streams and to develop a computer model of the plant performance. This simulation then becomes the basis for selection and optimization of a retrofit program or study of the plant under alternate conditions.
The plant simulation software takes into account all important aspects of plant performance and includes kinetic modeling of catalyst reactors, heat exchanger and coil performance, pressure drop at different plant rates, and compressor and turbine efficiencies. Steam balances are made for each new case and this is used to find the impact on fuel gas firing. The software is flexible enough to accommodate any type of syngas and hydrogen plant design.