Refining crude oil to transform it into a range of useful industrial products requires a series of sophisticated distillation processes that involve heating, vaporizing and condensing. Centrifugal fans are used extensively throughout these processes, and must perform reliably in demanding operating conditions, including extreme outdoor weather as well as the high heat generated by the processes.
When Van Tongeren Kennemer (VTK), a Netherlands-based OEM, won the business to build six double inlet centrifugal fans for a refinery in Malaysia, they needed to provide units for ethylene ovens where temperatures could reach 350° C. VTK is a leading specialist in process engineering and manufacturing for air, gas, and solids systems, and has provided customized fan solutions since
1893. The key requirement for this project, according to VTK project manager Peter de Wildt, was reliability; the end customer wanted the fans to operate without fail for at least six years.
“We were told that if a fan stopped running, production would shut down, costing nearly one million euros a day,” said de Wildt. “Because bearings are the most critical component in our fan design, we wanted to look beyond our standard vendors to find the most reliable bearing. Even more important to us, we wanted to find a technical partner capable of ensuring our success.”
VTK had recently become aware of ABB’s Dodge Sleevoil bearings, having installed two of them on a small fan project. Pleased with the level of support and impressed with the quality of the product, VTK selected ABB as their partner to supply Dodge RTL series hydrodynamic bearings for the refinery project.
“Dodge Sleevoil bearings have a higher recommended load and maximum speed compared to competitive bearings, which made them perfect for this application,” explains de Wildt. “We worked closely with ABB’s bearing technical specialists on all of the calculations to come up with a customized bearing design that would meet all of the specified requirements.”
The RTL bearing also provides exceptionally strong performance in high heat applications. Léon Benne, ABB’s Dodge product manager in the Netherlands, says the bearing’s unique water-cooled design provides effective heat dissipation.
“The coolant chamber is located directly in the bearing liner and cools both the radial load sections and thrust plates as close to the heat source as possible,” explains Benne. “This easy-to-maintain system ensures the bearing will run reliably within its set operating temperature range.”
The bearings also include RTD (Resistance Temperature Detector) sensors to monitor their operating temperature and accelerometers for vibration monitoring. All six fans were test run prior to shipment and de Wildt reports that all the variables recorded were well within specified limits. Bearing surfaces were also inspected for damage, but none was found.
“What we have discovered throughout this project is that Dodge Sleevoil bearings are a perfect fit for this application due to their solid and robust configuration” says de Wildt. “We also received 100 percent of the technical support we expected. We know these bearings are reliable and we will be choosing them again in the future for these types of applications.”