Online Treatment of Asphaltene Fouled Crude Unit Heat Exchangers for Increased Capacity

Results Achieved

Increased crude input by 5,000 bbls/day

$600,000 in additional recovered revenue per day

Ease of online application and reliable operation of the refinery

Chemical profiles

FQE Solvent-H

Created for the dissolution and recovery of asphaltenes in process equipment, pipelines and storage tanks.

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High-intensity treatment of asphaltene

During September-October 2018, a large refinery in the western United States sought out a solution to remove asphaltene fouling and improve the performance of eight online heat exchangers in their crude unit pre-heat train.

Exchanger U-Coefficients for High-Intensity treatment of asphaltenes

The graph to the left (provided by the client) shows the effectiveness of FQE® Solvent-H at increasing the efficiency of the online crude unit heat exchangers.

To dissolve and disperse the heavy hydrocarbons and asphaltenes responsible for efficiency reductions, an online treatment program utilizing FQE Solvent-H was applied.


Optimizing the surface interactions of the chemical required adequate surface contact time to ensure an effective treatment. The online high-intensity chemical injection program was completed over 48 hours, with operating temperatures ranging from 400ºF (204ºC) to a maximum of 700ºF (371ºC).


Following the online high-intensity treatment injection in late September, the u-coefficients of each exchanger witnessed increases of up to 120% over the following 30 days. These values leveled off over the next 30 days. Though, post-injection u-coefficients typically remained at least 50% higher than the pre-injection values.


Following the online high-intensity application process, the client was able to confirm several key benefits:

1. Increased System Flow: The client was able to increase crude input by 15,000 bbls/day


2. Millions of Dollars in Recovered Revenue: Due to the increased efficiency and flow and conservatively estimating a $40/bbl market price, the client was able to recover $600,000 in additional revenue per day. This additional revenue equates to over $18 million in an average month.


3. Ease of Application and Reliability: FQE Solvent-H created no solid by-products as the organic solids remain liquefied, unable to precipitate from the mixture as latent solids. Any potential scaling or blockage issues tied to solids were avoided. As a result, the client was able to improve the reliable operation of the refinery, without shutting down, while effectively addressing their fouling concerns.


As a result of the successful online high-intensity treatment to remove the built-up asphaltene deposits in our client’s facility, we have increased equipment efficiency and production volumes, lowered operating costs and increased reliability through the ease of application.

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