Energy Efficient Refineries

Carlos Augusto Arentz Pereira

What is a refinery? A huge energy consuming and transforming machine that uses heat and power to separate and recombine atoms. An immense thermal engine with lots of flows coming in and out, and in midway frantically crossing with each other; a few main pieces of equipment and a bunch of many auxiliary ones, spending, changing and moving energy. Refineries need energy to convert crude oil into transportation and heating fuels, chemicals, and other products. Enormous amounts of heat are required to separate crude oil into its components, such as gasoline and diesel, also to crack hydrocarbon molecules into smaller ones, which generate lighter and more valuable products. All this should be coordinated, in order to provide appropriate conditions, especially pressure and temperature, for these core processes, at their best economic point. This economic point depends on many items, like the refinery technological design stage, cast of crude oils it processes, portfolio of products, and also the way that is operated. All these issues have been changing a lot over the years, influenced by each other and by economics. And one of the great drivers of these changes was energy conservation.

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