July 2022

Process Optimization

Caustic tower design guidelines and recommendations

A caustic tower is a critical piece of equipment in an ethylene plant that supplies feed to the downstream section after removing impurities.

Sharma, A., Process Engineer

A caustic tower is a critical piece of equipment in an ethylene plant that supplies feed to the downstream section after removing impurities. It mainly absorbs contaminants such as carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and acid gases that are harmful to the downstream process. If left untreated, CO2 can freeze at lower (negative) temperatures and H2S can deactivate the activity of catalyst for the acetylene reactor and hydrogenation reactor, which in turn leads to off-spec product. Additionally, any upset in the caustic tower may lead to reduced throughput and can force a complete plant shutdown, which directly affects a company’s gross refinery margin. FIG. 1 depicts a plant’s caust

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