Chemicals / Polymers and Plastics

Lanxess - Rhein Chemie

Reliable over many years. Those of us who are a little older might still remember the VW Beetle advertising slogan from the 1960s: It keeps running and running and running… And that is exactly what Holger Kurth can say for the fully welded K°Bloc plate heat exchanger from Kelvion that is installed at the Leverkusen Chemical Park to help with the production of organic dyes for the Rhein Chemie business unit of Lanxess. "It has been in continual operation for five years," reports the Production Engineer. "Since its installation, we haven't had any noticeable issues nor have any maintenance or repairs been necessary."

K°Bloc operates as a condenser for solvents
The heat exchanger is installed in a residue dryer that is used for Lanxess' dye production and serves to reclaim any remaining solvent residue from the reaction mixture at the end of the synthesis. Thereby it increases the sustainability and economic efficiency of the entire process. In the K°Bloc, the main solvent is condensed out at approx. 50 °C. At approx. 10 °C, the low-boiling precipitant is separated. The steam condenser is designed for temperatures up to 200 °C and a pressure up to 10 bar. Operation in a vacuum is also possible. Its heat exchanger surface is approx. 7.3 m², the media content is 40 l.

On the hunt for a quick replacement
The K°Bloc (Type BT-30-5C-10H-100) replaced a similarly designed heat exchanger from another manufacturer in 2015. "The previous unit showed corrosion damage and we were looking for a quick, equivalent replacement," remembers Kurth. The Plant Manager had not necessarily planned on switching vendors. What was important was that the new heat exchanger had the required features, was robust and could be available within a short period of time. The K°Bloc scored major points here due to the welding of the plates with the comb technology and as it is more robust than comparable products from other manufacturers.

Quality and a short lead time clinched the deal
"We know from other applications that a fully-welded design is very durable. And Kelvion is a well-known vendor. Ultimately however, the guarantee of a short lead time gave the impetuous to place the order with Kelvion," says the Production Engineer. The desired date was met despite the required modifications. This was because the K°Bloc has slightly different connection positions. This meant that Kelvion first had to adjust the heat exchanger’s connections so that it would fit into the narrow space of the Lanxess system without system modifications. Thanks to these adjustments, the replacement could be carried out with very little effort. "This was very important to us because the impact on production needed to be kept to a minimum."

Production Engineer Kurth is convinced by its durability

Today, Kurth is certain that the right decision was made at the time. Certainly, it is too early to make a conclusive comparison with the previous heat exchanger – it was in operation for over ten years and the K°Bloc still has a way to go to reach this operating time. However, the past five years of operation without any kind of service does establish trust. The fact that the fluids are neither abrasive nor significantly contaminated speaks volumes for a long service life. "Our process is self-cleaning, so to speak," he concludes. "That's why I trust that the K°Bloc will last longer than its predecessor."

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