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Major Gas Producer Chooses Robust PCHEs Over Fragile BAHEs


Having considered the overall lifecycle cost of both technologies and seen the attractive long-term investment potential of Heatric printed circuit heat exchangers (PCHEs), a major gas producer in the Middle East has begun replacing its brazed aluminium heat exchangers (BAHEs) with Heatric’s robust, low maintenance PCHEs.

Like many gas suppliers worldwide, this ‘gas giant’ has been plagued by frequent BAHE failures. The cumulative value of the lost production has added many tens of millions of dollars to the lifetime operating costs of its 50 mmte/year plant. Following persistent BAHE failures – the most recent after just one year in service – the decision was taken to find a more permanent solution.

At first sight BAHEs can appear to be a cheap and technically suitable fitment in processes like this, however, once potential production losses are factored into the cost comparisons a very different picture emerges. Heatric’s printed circuit heat exchangers (PCHEs) are immune to fluctuations in temperature and severe shock loads. Once installed they require very little maintenance during a working lifespan that closely matches the plant itself. In this case, high reliability and low maintenance enables a PCHE to repay its higher up-front costs in just three-and-a-half years. Over an expected lifetime of 30 years the return on investment (RoI) is in the region of 400%.

The revenue cost of BAHE failure

Every time a BAHE failed in the main cryogenic system of a LNG train with capacity of 3.0 mmte/year, the company would lose production worth almost $2 million in the time it took to replace the failed unit. With BAHEs failing every three years on average, over the 30-year lifetime of the plant the company was looking at approximately $12 million of lost production on a single train providing just 6% or so of total output.

Convincing case for Heatric PCHEs

Simple capex cost comparisons favoured the purchase of another fragile-but-cheap BAHE units. But only if the company ignored the long stream of production disruptions and lost future revenues that would come with it. Once future production losses were factored into the decision it was the robust solution provided by Heatric PCHE technology that was clearly the most cost-effective option – and by a very large margin.

The Heatric design team worked closely with the customer team to tailor the new PCHEs both to the process application and the operational setting. The customer has now replaced the BAHEs in two trains, the third PCHE is awaiting installation. Once these PCHEs have confirmed their effectiveness and reliability in service, PCHE upgrade will be fully completed on the plant.

Operator training and commissioning

The Heatric operating ethos is one of partnership. Once the customer had decided to change technology the Heatric project and design team ensured that the customer received a PCHE design optimised for its process. Thereafter the Heatric customer support team worked with the customer at every stage of the journey from installation through to plant start-up. Extensive operator training – delivered onsite by Heatric’s own expert trainers – covered handling and installation techniques, instrumentation and control systems, process monitoring, inspection techniques, how to detect fouling, and much more. Our field service engineers were also present as the LNG train was recommissioned following the PCHE installation.

Beyond BAHE

The repeated failure of BAHEs among our existing customers has led Heatric to focus more closely on the needs of these critical cryogenic applications, working to find ways to fine-tune PCHE designs for improved effectiveness while maintaining the high pressure and extreme temperature capabilities for which PCHEs are famed.

By continuously developing our PCHEs and expanding our already extensive customer support and advice services – from design, through to commissioning, and beyond to continuing maintenance, servicing and care – Heatric offers its customers a unique opportunity to travel past the technical and economic limitations of BAHE and reap the huge operational improvements and cost savings that can be unlocked by Heatric PCHE technology.

For more information on the benefits you can realise by incorporating Heatric PCHEs in your processes, send a message directly through the enquiry page or contact Heatric on:

+44 (0) 1202 627 000