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Engineering Practice: Hydrogen-Pinch Analysis Made Easy

By April M. Nelson and Y. A. Liu Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University |

An automated spreadsheet method can quickly help minimize fresh hydrogen consumption while maximizing hydrogen recovery and reuse in petroleum refineries and petrochemical complexes In petroleum refineries and petrochemical complexes, there are many hydrogen consumers, such as hydrotreaters, hydrocrackers, isomerization units and lubricant plants. There are also hydrogen producers, such as hydrogen plants and naphtha reformers. Through a systematic analysis of hydrogen sources and demands (sinks), hydrogen-pinch analysis attempts to minimize the flowrate of fresh hydrogen makeup and off-gas discharge while maximizing the flowrate of hydrogen recovery and reuse, possibly through off-gas purification techniques. Mass Balance The first step in the hydrogen-pinch analysis is to perform a mass balance on hydrogen sources and demands in the hydrogen network. Hydrogen sources include fresh (or makeup) hydrogen and recycle hydrogen streams, outlet streams from hydrogen producers (for example, reformers), product and residue streams from hydrogen purifiers (for example, membrane separation, pressure swing adsorption [PSA], or cryogenic distillation), off-gas streams from high- or low-pressure separators, and off gasses from hydrogen-consuming…
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