I am facing an unusual problem of a localized fouling in vacuum column top section and i am trying to develop a solution for the ongoing problem , i am looking for any advice or insights or even prior experience with similar problems , any contributions are highly welcomed .
My problem is periodic formation of semi-solid fouling in the top section of the tower despite of operating at relatively low temperatures (Tray temperature 185 C ) and low Pressures (-0.955 kgf/cm2) , i assumed that cracking or coking at this conditions is highly unlikely at this conditions (correct me if i am wrong) and i assume that the problem might be caused by phase separation of asphaltenes entrapped in light hydrocarbons .... is there any way to exactly determine the problem , what kind of lab tests can be done? any one faced similar problems in vacuum columns?
Thanks all for your valuable answers , I want to add some missing information to the original posts , first of all the fouling color is blackish and the top tower temperature is nearly 85 C ....the fouling seems to be of a hydrocarbons origin.......... it was noted that the fouling increase with the increase of overhead temperature
what steps and lab tests can i do to exactly characterize the fouling?
We Analyzed the solid fouling using x-ray analysis , it was 98.9 % Hydrocarbon, 0.7 % Sulfur , the rest are trace metals with various low percentages (0.01 ~0.02 % ) ... the lab analysis didn't indicate any chlorides , i am not sure if the x-ray analysis can or can't detect chlorides but will discuss it with the lab chemist , most of the replies suggested ammonium chlorides , but apparently it isn't the case....