Diesel Charge Pumps

DuPont™ Vespel® CR-6100 Helps Diesel Charge Pump Survive and Keep Pumping

A refinery in North America experienced recurring issues with their diesel charge pumps. The pumps provide feed into the refinery HDS unit. Loss of feed to the unit can result in reduced refinery production and significant losses. The refinery has 3 total pumps in this service–two pumps running in parallel with an installed spare. The pumps are 1200 HP (900 kW), 13-stage, axially-split, between-bearings pumps (API Type BB3), running at 3550 RPM. The product is diesel fuel at approximately 250 F (120 C). The original design of these pumps included metal wear rings, throttle, and center bushings. During the previous process upsets, these metal wear parts had seized, requiring expensive pump overhauls. The overhauls required the services of an outside shop, exposing the refinery to production risk due to operating without a spare pump for several weeks.

Diesel Charge Pump Wear Components Upgraded To Vespel® CR-6100

Earlier this year, the refinery upgraded the first of the three pumps to Vespel® CR-6100, using Boulden’s patented PERF-Seal design for all of the stationary wear parts. The rotating wear parts remained metal, using the original metallurgy and surface finish. Soon after the upgrade, a process upset caused a temporary loss of flow to the pumps. Figure 1 (below) shows the process flow data during the upset condition. Each box along the x-axis represents one hour and the y-axis represents flow rate. Without sufficient flow to the pumps (blue and cyan lines), minimum flow (yellow line) could not be immediately established, causing the pumps to run at extremely low flow rates for nearly an hour. Partial flow was re-established, but the pumps continued to operate far below the design flow rate for nearly 4 more hours. Process flow data for the diesel charge pumps during the process upset
Normal process conditions were finally restored, the pumps were individually shut down for inspection. The pump with metal wear components seized upon shut down had damage to both bearings and required significant repair work. The pump with Vespel® CR-6100 rotated freely, with the inspection revealing some damage to the thrust bearing. The thrust bearing was replaced in the field and the pump returned to service where it ran at full rate with no evidence of reduced performance or vibration issues.

Conclusion

In an ideal world, plant processes always operate per design. Unfortunately, there are times when things do not go as planned. When that happened to this refinery, the pump with Vespel® CR-6100 survived where the pumps with metal components could not. Beyond surviving this incident, the refinery also reports that the pump is running with lower vibration than the pumps with metal components. With reduced clearance at the wear parts, the pump is almost certainly consuming less power, further reducing the life cycle cost of the pump. If you have a service causing any issues at your plant, contact Boulden today. We have Vespel® CR-6100, B-Series and Metcar composite materials in stock and can assist with any application or design questions you have.