Thesis for the Degree of Master of Science


Year 2008
Päivi Tuomikoski

Training Material on Energy Efficient Operation of Distillation Columns

The significance of efficient operator training has increased during the last few years. Aging workforce, tightening competition and environmental regulations drive refineries to boost their profitability through operator training. Distillation process consumes a large share of energy and most of the operational expenses consist of energy costs. Consequently, refineries can achieve considerable savings by improving operation. The aim of this thesis was to implement a training material on energy efficient distillation column operation.

The literature survey of the thesis discusses the importance and current status of operator training as well as energy efficient distillation column operation and factors affecting to it. The main focus of the literature survey is on references and examples regarding oil refining industry. As a part of operator training, operator training simulators are also introduced. The study highlights their benefits and presents the most important aspects concerning their use. The list included in the study covers all the major operator training simulator suppliers in the field.

The experimental part presents the development and implementation of the training material on energy efficient column operation. The material consists of two parts and it is aimed at experienced refinery operators. The first part of material comprises a web-based training material applicable to self-learning and guided training. The second part encompasses a simulation exercise consisting of a simple two-product column model and a process related to it. The exercise aims at illustrating the significance of unnecessary operating expenses which are caused by excess energy consumption. The exercise was developed using an operator training simulator. The simulator model was designed for educational purposes and, therefore, it is not an exact replicate of the refinery process.

Based on the references and experiences gained during the thesis work, more attention should be paid to the role of operator training in the future. Operator training simulators are widely used nowadays and they play a significant role in efficient training. The feedback received during the experimental part indicates that the developed material illustrates efficiently factors affecting column energy consumption and that the material is suitable for educational purposes from the pedagogical point of view. However, continued development and maintenance will be required for the efficient introduction and utilization of the material.

This info last modified 26 Sep 2017 by Jerri Kämpe-Hellenius