Amine units are critical to the operations of refineries and chemical plants. If a unit fails due to corrosion, condensation and foaming, or another issue, the entire productivity and safety of the facility is imperiled. Temperature measurement solutions allow operators to precisely control amine systems in order to prevent critical failures and to maximize efficiency.

The Value of Temperature Measurement in Amine Columns

In the contactor, most of the exothermic activity should be taking place lower in the column.

A typical amine contactor column has 20 to 22 trays stacked equal distances apart. Sour gas enters the amine column at a relatively low temperature and is exposed to the lean amine, whose temperature is slightly higher, on each tray. When the two media meet, the process is exothermic, and the dirty process gas will increase in temperature.

Ideally, the bulk of the absorption takes place low in the column so that there is more opportunity for refining the gas in the remaining height. But without an array of temperature sensors, it is difficult to know precisely where most of the acid-gas capture is taking place. One thermocouple gives more data than none, but that information will be for just one, usually low, point in the amine column.

Multipoint Thermocouple Arrays for Amine Contactors

A multipoint thermocouple assembly from WIKA provides a complete temperature profile that allows operators to know precisely where most of the acid gas removal is taking place. With that information, they can make adjustments to the flow rate to minimize the unit’s energy consumption and maximize efficiency. Our multipoint thermocouples are easily retrofitted into existing amine contactor columns, often through an unused nozzle or old thermowell location. The array is threaded through the contactor trays and sized so that there is a measuring junction at specific tray heights. Typically 18 trays are instrumented for temperature; this is enough to give a clear picture of how the amine column is performing and whether any adjustments are needed to keep the exothermic reaction at the right column level.

TC96-M miniature multipoint thermocouple

WIKA USA’s temperature solution, such as the miniature multipoint thermocouple, uses a linear multipoint design with multiple junctions inside a single sheath. This allows for a larger number of thermocouples in a small cross-sectional area and minimum interference with the process flow in the contactor. The thermocouples are ungrounded and available in a variety of types and sheath metallurgies. The sheath passes through contactor trays and is supported by specialized hardware that is easily assembled in the field and does not require any welding or hot work during installation.

And because amine columns are not all alike, we design and manufacture thermocouple arrays for each customer’s specific application in our Houston factory. In addition, trained WIKA professionals provide onsite installation support for all our products.

WIKA USA, Measurement Solutions for the Petrochemical Industry

Don’t rely on guesses or estimates. A complete and reliable temperature profile leads to data-backed decisions that maximize efficiency and safety. Contact the chemical and petrochemical experts at WIKA USA for more information on how our innovative multipoint thermocouple assemblies can help you get the most out of your amine units and other industrial processes.

This article is a continuation of last week’s article, “The Vital Role of Temperature in Amine Units for Treating Natural Gas.”

Products mentioned in this blog:
TC96-M miniature multipoint thermocouple


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