Repair for Industrial Valves Used in Catalytic Reforming

catalytic reforming operations in progress thanks to industrial valve repair
Maintenance and repair is critical for industrial valves used in severe service such as catalytic reforming processes.

Industrial valves play a crucial role in the petrochemical industry, enduring harsh conditions to keep operations running smoothly, especially in catalytic reforming. This process combines thermal exchanges, catalytic properties, and fluid dynamics to produce fuel and chemical feedstocks.

The process depends on a series of valves that must maintain their integrity under these demanding conditions. Despite their resilience, valves used in catalytic reforming units face wear over time. Experienced, reliable industrial valve repair services are vital in ensuring that your valves can withstand the rigorous demands of petrochemical processes.

For expert technical service, schedule your valve repair with Southern Valve Service.

How Does Catalytic Reforming Work?

Catalytic reforming converts naphtha hydrocarbons into high-octane gasoline parts through a precise mix of temperature, pressure, and catalysts.

  1. Feedstock Intake and Pre-Heating: The process starts with the intake of naphtha, a liquid hydrocarbon mixture. It is preheated to the required operating temperature, usually up to 1000°F, to ensure that a significant portion is in vapor form.
  2. Primary Reformer: The pre-heated naphtha is then sent to the primary reformer, which contains a catalyst bed. Here, the hydrocarbons undergo endothermic reactions, breaking carbon-carbon bonds to produce hydrogen and smaller carbon chains.
  3. Secondary Reformer: In the secondary reformer, the remaining hydrocarbons undergo exothermic reactions to further break down carbon chains and stabilize the hydrogen-carbon ratio.
  4. Recovery Section: The product is then cooled in a recovery section before being processed in a separator to remove any remaining gases.
  5. Catalytic Scission: The remaining gas undergoes catalytic scission, a cracking process that splits large molecules into smaller ones. This is a complex set of reactions, but the end result is the production of aromatic hydrocarbons, the high-octane components, and hydrogen gas.
  6. Regeneration: The catalyst beds need to be continuously regenerated. This is a cycle of burning off carbon deposits so the catalyst can be reused.

At every stage of the catalytic reforming process, industrial valves are essential for controlling the flow and pressure of feedstock and gases.

Types of Valves Used

Catalytic reforming relies on several different types of valves. These valves fulfill critical roles throughout the process.

Ball Valves

In the reforming process, ball valves can be found in various feed lines and for switching feed cut-off duties. Ball valves offer quick quarter-turn opening or closing, making them valuable for emergency shutdowns and other rapid valve actions. 

Gate Valves

Gate valves are ideal for services that involve full flow and little turbulence, such as opening and closing more regularly due to operational requirements. They are excellent for on-off flow control. In reforming, gate valves are used for key isolation and low-pressure drops when fully open.

Globe Valves

In catalytic reforming, globe valves are crucial in managing gas and liquid flows, particularly during shutdowns and start-ups. Globe valves are essential for the control and isolation of the flow of fluid within the system. They’re designed to reduce the pressure drop when the valve is fully open, offering a more linear flow characteristic.

While these valves work seamlessly in ideal conditions, the environment within the catalytic reforming process—high temperatures, erratic thermal cycles, and the presence of aggressive chemicals—puts them under significant stress, leading to the necessity of timely industrial valve repair.

Valve Damage in Catalytic Reforming

The very conditions that catalytic reforming requires to operate effectively are also the ones that can lead to wear and damage in industrial valves. Some of the most common forms of damage include:

Erosion and Corrosion

High-velocity flows often encountered in control and relief valve applications can lead to erosion damage, resulting in a less effective valve performance. In addition, the corrosive nature of the feedstock, catalyst regenerants, and other components can cause pitting and metal loss in valve surfaces, affecting their sealing capability. A worn or damaged valve might not close fully, leading to inefficiencies in temperature or pressure control, which can impact the quality and quantity of the reformate produced.

High-Temperature Degradation

The intense thermal cycles that certain valves experience can lead to material fatigue and eventual failure. This problem is particularly common for valves used in the regeneration section, where they must handle high-temperature catalyst regeneration gases. A failed valve here could degrade the reliability of the entire reforming unit, and even lead to unscheduled shutdowns and production loss.

Wear and Leaks

Internal surfaces wear over time due to the high-pressure particulate-laden gas flows. Valve seats and discs are the primary areas for this wear, which can ultimately lead to leaks. A leaking or malfunctioning valve can lead to hazardous situations, including fires and emissions of harmful compounds.

Experienced Industrial Valve Repair

Valve repair in the petrochemical industry is a meticulous, multi-step process that involves precise technical knowledge.  Our valve service includes:

  • Decontamination
  • Inspection and diagnostics
  • Disassembly and part replacement
  • Cleaning and reconditioning
  • Seat and seal refurbishing
  • Assembly and testing

Southern Valve Service has over 30 years of experience in industrial valve repair, specializing in petrochemical valves and other critical components. With our expertise, we can provide reliable repairs for all types of valves used in catalytic reforming. Contact us today to schedule critical industrial valve repair.