Refinery CO2 Emissions Reduction in Alberta Plants
by Thomas Webster, on Wed, Jun 08, 2022 @ 08:06 AM
Climate change is one of the most serious issues humanity faces today, and the oil and gas refining industry plays a part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The refining industry is the third-largest industrial source of greenhouse gasses in the world, contributing 6% of all industrial emissions. While methane fugitive emissions are a major concern in the industry, and rightfully so, 98% of those emissions are CO2.
In light of these figures—and the regulatory response—refineries in Alberta are adopting mitigation strategies, such as upgrading technologies and improving energy efficiency, to help reduce CO2 emissions. By maintaining and upgrading smaller components like valves and fittings, Alberta refineries can save energy and reduce overall emissions in pursuit of refinery CO2 emissions reduction.
Sources of CO2 Emissions in Alberta Refineries
CO2 is produced by combustion reactions, such as those in the boilers and reactors used for catalytic cracking and steam reforming. CO2 emissions occur when the components and equipment containing these reactions are not well-sealed.
Any place where components are joined can be a potential source of emissions, including:
- Open-ended lines
As components wear out over time, they are more likely to leak. CO2 emissions can also result from improper installation of components or damage caused by nearby vibrating equipment over time.
Valve selection is one of the most important ways to minimize refinery CO2 emissions. Many problems occur because the wrong valve was selected for an application or valves were installed incorrectly. By bringing in a third-party expert, refineries can identify these valves that should be replaced or upgraded to more efficient designs.
Minimize CO2 Emissions with Preventive Maintenance
Aside from using high-quality, efficient components, good preventive maintenance practices are essential to maintain efficiency and minimize CO2 emissions. These practices should include regular inspections and standard operating procedures that ensure maximum coverage of components and systems throughout the refinery.
Here are some preventive maintenance practices that can help with refinery CO2 emissions reduction:
- Tighten loose connections (especially near vibrating equipment).
- Plug or eliminate open-ended lines.
- Inspect valves and instruments for leaks.
- Supporting the tubing or piping run is strongly recommended.
Hard-to-access components may need to be inspected less frequently but should still be included in inspection procedures. Whenever leaks are repaired or minimized, reinspections should be conducted afterward to validate the effectiveness.
Snoop testing is a simple method to detect smaller leaks using a leak detecting liquid. In this method, the inspector sprays an area with a bubbling solution. If a leak is present, the solution will bubble visibly. Snoop testing is effective at detecting leaks from stationary equipment or components that are easy to access.
Quality Valves and Components Can Reduce CO2 Emissions
The quality of a valve or any other fluid handling component is determined by many factors, including materials, finishes, and manufacturing tolerances. Using the highest quality components possible ensures processes are running at maximum efficiency—which is key to achieving significant refinery CO2 emissions reduction.
Improving efficiency and reducing emissions require well-sealed components to reduce fluid loss. A valve’s sealing ability depends on several factors, including:
- Precision: Dimensions of the ball valve or actuating mechanism affect all aspects of fluid dynamics including flow rate, pressure, and pressure drop. Higher quality valves that are made to tighter tolerances provide more precise control.
- Surface Finish: A rough surface reduces sealing ability, increases the risk of corrosion, and increases pressure drop through the valve.
- Chemical Compatibility: Control valve materials must be compatible with the media being processed—an important consideration for Alberta operations that often process harsh, corrosive, or abrasive fluids.
- Material Hardness: If the ball material is too hard, the seat will wear too quickly. If it’s too soft, it will deform over time.
Insulating tubing and hoses, especially in the winter, can help optimize the efficiency of heating systems. Traced tubing bundles offer an economical way to manage heat loss compared to field tracing and insulating.
With so many factors affecting performance, it’s a good idea to consult with a fluid handling systems expert to help you decide what materials and options your process requires.
Expert Field Advisory Services to Help with Refinery CO2 Emissions Reduction
Edmonton Valve & Fitting can help reduce CO2 emissions and improve efficiency by providing leak detection services, hose evaluations, and emission-reducing valves, fittings, and other components to Alberta refineries and upstream operations. Our Field Advisors can evaluate your operation onsite to identify potential leak points and components that can be upgraded or replaced to increase overall efficiency, reliability, and safety. We can then recommend industry-leading Swagelok components that will provide the maximum benefit to your facility.