October 2001

Special Report: Plant Safety and Reliability

Do we need relief valves on FCC main fractionators?

Analysis shows that in some cases the system is inherently safe

Elliott, B., Stone & Webster Engineers and Constructors, Inc.

There have long been questions regarding whether or not an FCC main fractionator needs relief valve protection for anything except some smaller events, like steam-out or fire. Some units are designed in a way that lend themselves to this conclusion. When the design pressure of the reactor/regenerator is less than or equal to the design pressure of the main fractionator, or there is some absolute mechanical limit to the regenerator pressure (plus the static head difference between the regenerator and reactor) that is less than the main fractionator design pressure, the units do not need large relief valves on the main fractionator. The system itself is inherently safe, because the converter c

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