Cooling is required in a refinery for many reasons, from returning products to ambient temperature for storage and delivery, passing through refrigerating equipment to guarantee their integrity to condensing or quenching processes. Depending on the application, it can be provided by water or air. Air cooling is an option especially to condensing distillation top fluids, while cooling water is almost a universal choice for equipment refrigeration, because of its thermal capacity.
Disregarding equipment refrigeration that is specified by design, products cooling and condensing duties are related to efficient operation. More recovery on heat exchangers batteries from fluids leaving unit limits, less cooling demand and adequate control of the process, like top distillation tower temperature, steam stripping flow and fired heater operation reduces demand on top condensers. In general, the better the heat supplied to the process is recovered, less cooling is needed and that is also a monitoring issue to evaluate an energy efficient operation.
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