SK Energy automates heat exchanger maintenance
SK Energy has developed a system that can automatically clean oil refinery heat exchangers, a time consuming and potentially dangerous process that is normally done manually.
Designed with SK Energy's partners in Ulsan, the system will not only increase safety, but also save water and time.
A heat exchanger is a large piece of equipment at an oil refinery that is used to transfer heat between fluids.
SK Energy announced Thursday that it has developed the first cleaning system in Korea.
Oil refineries usually stop operations once every year to replace components and clean equipment to raise efficiency and safety. Cleaning the heat exchanger is one of those processes.
Up until May, when the system was first applied, the heat exchanger was cleaned manually, which required a lot of time and a lot of water. Following the adoption of the system, the amount of time spent on cleaning the heat exchanger is reduced by 50 percent and uses 44 percent less water, according to SK Energy.
Cleaning a heat exchanger takes three hours using the new system, down from six hours. More than 400 tons of the 900 tons of water used in the process can be reused.
SK Energy plans to apply the system to 40 percent of the heat exchangers at its Ulsan Complex — its key production base.
“The automatic cleaning system of heat exchangers was developed to practice green balance management while building the safety net of the industrial site,” said SK Energy CEO and President Cho Kyong-mok in a statement. The company “is able to raise the safety and efficiency of regular maintenance. Such work will be able to contribute to the development of the petrochemical industry that is facing a crisis.”
BY JIN MIN-JI [firstname.lastname@example.org,kr]