The support equipment utilized during routine maintenance and planned outages—vacuum trucks, frac tanks, air movers—create potential health, safety, and environmental concerns. Heavy crudes, high in sulfur content, increase the potential that H2S or SO2 will be encountered. Emissions from planned outages and routine maintenance account for significant unreported or underreported emissions. Vapor Point’s custom-engineered technologies help businesses meet or exceed federal and state regulatory standards, such as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s MSS rules (maintenance, start-up, and shutdown).

Frac Tanks

The majority of frac tank emission controls are related to NESHAP or consent decree requirements for benzene. The loading and storage of the material can create two very different applications, based on the flow rate out of the tank. Vapor Point is able to manage emissions for both peak and steady flows.

Vacuum Trucks

Many vac truck emissions pose significant health risks for personnel, and have even led to fatalities. Vapor Point offers a safer, faster, and more cost-effective solution for degassing vac trucks—extending carbon life while reducing spent chemistry. Vapor Point manages varying flow rates and contaminant levels, reducing VOC/LEL levels for such hazardous emissions as naphtha, benzene, xylenes, and H2S with a 70–90% efficiency rate.

Air Movers / Vactors / Guzzlers

High-volume air movers—capable of moving over 5500 CFM—are used when heavy sludges and solids need to be evacuated from sumps, pits, tanks, etc. Because of design limitations, these trucks are typically useless in any application where there is the potential for elevated ppm and LEL readings. Our high-flow VaporLockTM is capable of managing over 8000 CFM, and when used in conjunction with an air mover, will reduce VOC/LEL levels and allow these trucks to safely operate in elevated VOC applications.

Negative Impacts of VOC Releases

  • Work stoppages

  • Operational downtime

  • Health hazards

  • Lower personnel productivity

  • Nuisance SO2 odors

  • Increased environmental scrutiny

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OUR Downstream PROJECTS

Flare Gas H2S Emissions Control

Carbon Saver:

NESHAP (BWON)

Sump Emission Control

Refinery De-inventory

The Challenge

A Gulf Coast refinery tasked Vapor Point with improving their deinventory efficiency, and at the same time addressing the MSS challenges that come with inherent frac tank limitations. In preparation for planned maintenance/turnaround outages, all existing materials must be removed from within the piping infrastructure, towers, columns, drums, boilers...any and all product-containing components.

 

In the past, our client had used plant steam or nitrogen to flush remaining product either to a flare or to temporary frac tanks for storage. In this case, our client was constrained by pressure and permit limits for the flare systems, as well as pressure limitations on their traditional frac tanks (1 psi PRVR). Once chemical-cleaning activities commenced and circulation was complete, they were faced with these same frac tank limitations as the industrial contractor finalized the circulation and prepared for blowdown of the cleaning agents. 

These limitations created significant inefficiencies in maintenance preparation: 

  • Increased downtime for the deinventory / blowdown 

  • Ineffective blowdown due to pressure limitations, creating dead legs with remaining product 

  • Higher potential for safety incidents environmental releases due to ineffectiveness of blowdown activity 

The VaporLock Solution & The Results

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THE CHALLENGE:

Capture H2S flowing to flare to reduce downtime of DCU Compressor.

Case Study:
Flare Gas H2S Emissions Control

The Challenge

The U.S. EPA sets standards known as NESHAP (BWON)—National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants / Benzene Waste Operations— that require the control of any application that has the potential to emit benzene. All U.S. refineries operate under a consent decree, which is an agreement setting the expectations for management of the BWON program. In most NESHAP and BWON applications, activated carbon is the chosen control method for controlling these applications.

 

Plant sumps create a unique set of problems, as their contaminant levels and flow rates are highly variable, depending on operating activities within the sump’s associated units.

 

Vapor Point was approached by a client with a problem common to sump applicaitons. They had set up a typical solution for complying with NESHAP (BWON)—an array of three 2000-lb. activated carbon canisters. This carbon set-up did the job all right, but at a cost of over $150,000 per month. They desperately needed a solution that would drastically reduce compliance costs while keeping them safely within the limits of their consent decree.

The VaporLockTM Solution

Vapor Point engineered a robust, redundant system designed to minimize downtime. We installed two sets of dual Vapor Lock™ VOC vessel arrays, plumbed in parallel sequencing. Because the sump operates at very low pressures, we installed a vacuum venturi system, driven by plant nitrogen, downstream of our Vapor Lock™ recovery system. This positioning negated any back pressure created by the Vapor Lock™ system, allowing the vent from the sump to flow freely through the vapor stream. The outlet from the venturi was then reconnected to the carbon canisters, ensuring compliance with the refinery’s consent decree.

Results

  • Vapor Point’s VaporLock™ solution saved our client over $1.2M dollars the first year for this single application.

  • After monitoring system performance, we discovered we could replace the 2000-lb. carbon canisters with smaller ones that better fit the recorded flow rates and contiminant loading, yielding additional savings to the customer.

  • The client highlighted Vapor Point's contributions in a formal presentation to their corporate environmental team.

  • The environmental team lead garnered positive recognition for “taking a risk” by bringing Vapor Point in to resolve this high-cost headache.

  • Within six months of commencing this sump project, our client asked Vapor Point to install similar setups at three other locations.
  • Based on continuing successful Vapor Point will be awarded with a new MSA, allowing us to work in multiple customer facilities with multiple compliance challenges.

The Challenge

Vapor Point was called in as our client was preparing to de-inventory and blow down their DCU Compressor. This task was labeled a "critical job," since their permit included a strict daily limit of 500 lbs. of SO2 vapors that could be routed to the flare stack. The vapor stream from the DCU Compressor blowdown would include both VOC and H2S, so the H2S would need strict controls because of its SO2 equivalency at the flare stack monitors. Past blowdowns of the DCU Compressor took an average of 30 days because of the required slow vapor feed to the flare stack. Our client was looking for ways to speed the process up, and asked Vapor Point to engineer a solution that would completely eliminate H2S from the vapor stream.

The VaporLockTM Solution

Data from past DCU Compressor blowdowns indicated that the vapor stream would consist of 18–20% H2S (180,000–200,000 ppm). In order to capture this level of H2S, Vapor Point installed two sets of dual VaporLock systems in parallel, for a total of four 48" H2S scrubbers. We employed butterfly valves so one train could be used at a time, completely eliminating downtime. Each VaporLock was filled with 200 gallons of SourSorb, Vapor Point’s H2S-eliminating chemistry. The connection to the compressor was made up of nine ¾” hoses hooked up to a manifold leading to the inlet of the VaporLock system. ​We installed knockout pots upstream and downstream of our VaporLock scrubbers to eliminate any potential liquid carryover from the blowdown. A ball valve installed on the inlet permitted us to manage flow through the scrubbers, optimizing reaction time with the SourSorb.

Our client had established an H2S breathrough limit of 25ppm. Vapor Point technicians—protected by breathing air—used MultiRae 5-gas meters to record H2S readings downstream of our vessel array. Over the course of the five-day de-inventory/blowdown operation, our VaporLock system consistently captured 100% of the H2S.

Results

  • Vapor Point’s H2S control solution reduced the DCU Compressor de-inventory/blowdown from one month to five days—increasing efficiency, decreasing labor costs, and improving health and safety.

  • Vapor Point personnel successfully utilized breathing air PPE to monitor H2S in the vapor stream with zero personal H2S monitor alarms.

  • Based on the tremendous success of this job, our client expanded the use of Vapor Point solutions for their large-scale turnaround activities.

 

THE CHALLENGE:

Save our client significant carbon costs while remaining within their consent decree.

Case Study:
Carbon Saver: NESHAP (BWON) Sump Emission Control

THE CHALLENGE:

Improve de-inventory efficiency while solving inherent frac tank limitations.

Case Study:
Refinery De-inventory
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