Chromalox Safely Warms Highly-Explosive Agricultural Products

SRM Cable

The Challenge

A chemical and fuel processing plant creates a series of highly-explosive and flammable products used throughout the agricultural industry. These products include anhydrous ammonia which is a very effective nitrogen-based fertilizer and the breaking down or “cracking” of the natural gas product ethane to ethylene. Ethylene is widely used throughout many industries, but in agriculture, ethylene is a natural plant hormone that is used to help fruit ripen more quickly. In the case of anhydrous ammonia, precision heating is required because it must be kept under pressure when stored as a liquid. Anhydrous ammonia boils at -28 oF (-33.33 oC) however, temperature increases causes it to expand and increases the vapor pressure inside the tanks and pipes used for storage and transport. In the case of cracking ethane to ethylene, the ethane must be super-heated to 1562 oF (850 oC) and then super-cooled to retrieve the ethylene and other byproducts without combustion in a process known as “steam cracking”.

The Solution

To enable the thermal technologies required for these and other processes, Chromalox engineers designed a system that was effective, efficient and safe.

The temperature regulation system and furnace for these processes included the design, materials and installation of steam tracing, electric tracing, and instrument enclosures in a complete turn-key solution.

Specifically, the construction of the new furnaces required the turnkey design and installation of:

  • Electric Heat Tracing for Ammonia Pots, Ammonia Pot Level Transmitters, Potable Water Supply Lines and Safety Shower Supply Lines.
  • Steam Tracing for Steam Tracing Decoke Traps, Saturated Ethane Lines
  • Heated Instrument enclosures for monitoring equipment
  • Steam Manifolds and tube bundle distribution
  • Removable Insulation Blankets for Instruments/Valves/Pumps/etc.

Chromalox certifications in safety standards of Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) and Factory Mutual for hazardous area installations were a necessity in the creation and implementation of this solution.

For example, both the steam and electric trace circuit design and control panels provide system monitoring to alert operation staff to potential problems before safety or production issues occur.  

Operating costs were reduced through the implementation of both properly designed steam and electric heat trace. Specifically, due to the efficient placement of steam manifolds and electric trace control monitoring and panels.

Installation costs were reduced as Chromalox optimized both the electric and steam circuit design, provided turnkey installation of both steam and electric trace lines. In addition, Chromalox technicians provided both start-up and commissioning of the system.

Finally, construction coordination and schedule was critical. Fortunately, Chromalox provided fast turn on system design engineering and the construction team mobilized quickly. They coordinated delivery of materials through the warehouse stock system and the fabrication shops provided quick turnaround for steam trace, instrument enclosures, heated hose and control panels.

The Benefits

  1. Significantly decreasing installation, operation and maintenance costs.
  2. Safely heating chemical processes of highly-explosive and flammable agricultural products.
  3. Remaining on schedule due to efficient engineering and delivery.