Catalytic Steam Reformers

Hampa Energy Engineering and Design Company (HEDCO) has been established with its target to design and engineering oil, gas, and petrochemical plants. Since its establishment, HEDCO has focused on developing and transferring new technologies in Iran. Due to the endless efforts, HEDCO has achieved the essential knowledge for the basic of an ammonia plant and today it can design new plants based on its own ammonia license.

The know-how of the cryogenic tanks and steam methane reformers for methanol and ammonia plants are other examples of the technologies developed in HEDCO. HEDCO has prepared a dedicated R&D/Technology division to provide its best quality technological services for national and international projects.


Steam methane reformer:

In recent years, the need for hydrogen to be used in petrochemical plants and refineries has been growing at a rather fast pace. The economical means to produce hydrogen in these industries is “steam methane reforming”. A mixture of methane and steam convert to hydrogen and carbon-dioxide. This reaction occurs at a high temperature (> 800 ⁰C) in the presence of a nickel-based catalyst. Due to a high temperature flue gas flowing out of the radiant box of such a reformer, the proper design of the waste heat recovery modules requires a complex procedure and is subject to strict requirements for maximum efficiency.

Using a reach experience in various engineering disciplines, HEDCO is the first Iranian company equipped with its own design practice, and the in-house and commercial software needed to design the whole reformer package. In this regard, HEDCO is also ready to provide a wide range of services including the procurement and site-supervision.

HEDCO has already signed agreements to design and supply two steam methane reformers for Pardis (3rd unit) and Zandjan petrochemical plants. It has also successfully performed the revamping of the reformer installed in Razi petrochemical plant. In the following, different phases of the design procedure are briefly described.


Thermal and Process Design:

The basic process design of a steam methane reformer is the most important step to be taken according to the licensor’s requirements, metallurgical and mechanical limitations, and the availability of the catalysts and their performance during operation. In this step, the number, the properties and size, and the arrangement of the catalyst tubes and burners, are finalized. Also, the heat absorption and the coil arrangement in the waste heat recovery unit are calculated. Moreover, refractory types and thicknesses are also determined at this stage after finalizing the process design.


Software used by HEDCO:

  • In-house software for process and thermal design
  • REFORM 3PC, a commercial software used specifically for steam methane reformers
  • ASPEN HYSYS, ASPEN Plus, and PetroSIM
  • FRNC 5, a commercial software used for designing WHRU
  • HTRI Xchanger suite and Aspen EDR

Structural Design:

Due to its size and the variety of components installed on the structure of a reformer, its design requires a complex procedure. HEDCO is the first Iranian company which achieved the knowledge of the structural design of the steam methane reformers as well as all other types of fire-heaters. To this aim, an integrated model for all the components of any furnace is designed in the PDMS software and then, this 3D model provides a basis for the structural design in specific software. In this way, the best quality results are obtained with high efficiency.      


Stress Analysis:

Due to a (very) high temperature of the process fluid flowing in the coils of reformer, the stress analysis of these coils attached to the pigtails, headers, and the transfer-line is essential. Stress analysis of the transfer-line, considering its temperature (> 800 ⁰C) and the special insulation lining, is a complex procedure. HEDCO is the first Iranian company that developed the procedure for a complete stress analysis of the reformer coils along with all the attachments.


3D Modelling:

Increasingly, modeling software are used to provide 3D models for oil, gas, and petrochemical plants. Using the capabilities of the latest versions of these software, it is possible to integrate different models from different engineering disciplines, e.g. instrumentation, electrical, piping, steel structure and mechanical, into a single integrated 3D model. This way, there is a less chance for mistakes during detail engineering of the whole package and consequently the plant. HEDCO is the first Iranian company that develops such modeling for steam methane reformers.


CFD and FEM Analyses:

In recent years, the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) has been approved as a successful means for validating the flame properties and the flow of the hot flue gas inside the radiant box and the transition ducts. However, these simulations need high performance computations. Using the hardware and software assets of Iranian universities and research organizations, HEDCO is able to perform CFD simulations for steam methane reformers as well as other types of fired-heaters.

HEDCO is also able to use finite element analysis to validate the design parameters for special structural parts such as casting intermediate tube sheets.


High Quality Low Cost Iranian Products

HEDCO has surveyed well-known Iranian manufacturers and visited many shops in Iran in order to estimate their ability to produce high quality components for reformers as well as other types of fired-heaters.  The main aim is to reduce costs while a more stringent supervision by HEDCO certifies the quality. The examples are to use Iranian castable refractories and the ongoing project to produce centrifugally cast tubes in Iran.