Congratulations to Praxair’s Geismer, Louisiana methane reforming production facility for winning Chemical Processing magazine’s Plant Innovation Award.
Praxair’s innovations were the result of their objectives to reduce energy (natural gas) usage while meeting the production demands for CO, H2 and steam much of which is exported to customers’ neighboring plants. The Geismar facility is comprised of four steam reformer plants of different age. The key challenge was to allocate load based on current plant performance and product slate.
I spoke with Chris Hawkins, a Senior Consultant and Technology Manager in Emerson’s Asset Optimization organization. The AO team worked with Praxair to design advanced site optimization using the AMS Optimizer to calculate values for key process variables in real-time to increase the energy efficiency and consistency of each of the individual units. This work was combined with some model predictive control strategies implemented by the Praxair project team.
Working with the Praxair team, AO team members developed detailed models in the AMS Optimizer for each of the operational components of the site. The models compare the current plant operation and customer demands to determine the most economic set of production setpoints across the multiple units. These setpoints are automatically sent to the lower level control systems to keep the process running at optimal efficiency.
Chemical Process magazine reported the following results from the project:
Individually, the MPC systems increased in the carbon monoxide recovery on the cold boxes an average of 5-8% across multiple units, and much more consistently running of the units during production changes and load disturbances. Full implementation of this approach cut energy usage by over 1.0% for the facility. While that may not seem like a large percentage, for a site of this size, such a reduction equates to several hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in savings and provided a project pay back on the order of 2 years.