Fluid catalytic cracking, or FCC, is a key conversion process for many petroleum refining plants. The fluid catalytic cracking unit (FCCU) turns heavy, low-value feedstocks into high-value, lighter molecular weight hydrocarbons using a chemical catalyst. The resulting hydrocarbons are blended to finished products, such as butane, propane or gasoline. A cracker can produce a wide variety of yield patterns by operating in gasoline, distillate or LPG modes. While not all petroleum refining plants have this kind of secondary conversion capability, the ones that do can generate a broader range of products.
Catalytic crackers utilize a reactor and a catalyst regenerator with connecting risers where the reactions take place. Level controllers are often positioned on the first stage regenerator and at the top of the reactor.
Magnetrol® has produced an applications brochure for the petroleum refining industry detailing level measurement challenges and solutions for each step of the refining process. This blog post is part of an occasional series exploring each application in detail.
Level Measurement Challenges and Considerations
Level measurements during catalytic cracking involve fluidized solids levels at high temperatures. Conventional measurement techniques can be subject to plugging. Instrumentation selected for this application must be able to withstand these high temperatures and avoid clogging. In addition, many FCCUs run 24 hours a day for as long as 3 to 5 years between scheduled maintenance shutdowns. Level instruments placed in FCCUs should offer the utmost in reliability and be able to continue running accurately on the same schedule as the plant.
Level Measurement Solutions
The level measurement solution that MAGNETROL recommends for catalytic cracking is the E3 Modulevel® displacer-actuated transmitter. This transmitter provides accurate, reliable level measurement, is easily installed and calibrated, and has a high temperature range.
For more information on level measurement solutions for catalytic cracking and other petroleum refining applications, download the petroleum refining brochure.