We are operating a small refinery processing sweet crude (less than 0.4 wt % sulphur). The crude is heated in a heat exchanger network and sent to a preflash column. The overhead from preflash column are condensed as naphtha and sent for stabilization after removing free water in overhead reflux receiver boot followed by coalescer. The naphtha is reboiled in the column and refluxed by a overhead stab in condenser. Vapour from the column are sent as fuel.
Recently when the column was opened up after one year of service the overhead condenser was badly corroded. In fact all the tubes had holes (condenser uses cooling water in the tubes). The strange thing which was noted that elemental sulphur embedded in the corrosion product covering the outside of tubes.
We are wondering where this elemental sulphur was formed? The overhead operating temperature is 100°F.
We are using antifouling agent in our crude but the vendor says that there is no possibility of elemental sulphur from their product.
1. Preflash overhead goes through a prefilter followed by a sand bed coalescer. We have observed no emulsion and water haze after these filters and coalescers. However, we are recycling boot water to overhead condenser in the preflash. There is no water wash in the stabilizer as it is a simpler stripper with no overhead condenser and drum.
2. No outside naphtha is being processed; however, demin water solution is prepared with neutralizer which is injected in preflash overhead. We are wondering about this Claus type reaction that take place under these mild conditions without catalyst.