Using CFD to simulate heat transfers in a Braskem furnace


At the end of a 7-month project, ATS innovated by designing a new structure for Braskem’s fuel burners, which was facing problems in the equipment that performs the combustion of vinyl-acetylene gas. With the use of the proposed structure, the burners now have cooling systems that increase their useful life, becoming more economical and being able to carry out continuous production without the need for frequent repairs. To obtain this result, ATS, a computer solutions company in engineering, used CFD (Computational Fluid-Dynamics), or computational fluid dynamics, to propose a unique solution for treating the gas used by Braskem.

The Problem: Reducing the heating of vinyl-acetylene gas lances

The vinyl-acetylene gas, when passing through a part of the structure of the fuel burners called the lance, decomposes into different gases due to the increase in temperature. This decomposition, followed by polymerization, is capable of clogging the boom, and this accumulation creates problems in the passage of gas, causing Braskem to constantly need to repair it.

A Ffurnari was responsible for characterizing the problem in question. In the report, they presented the composition of the residual gases generated by the combustion of vinyl-acetylene gas, as well as all their relevant physical properties in the design of a new boom, considering two main criteria.

The Solution: Boom redesign with simulation using CFD++

The first of them, the clogging of the lance, was solved by implementing air jackets that reduce the heating of the gas and its decomposition. The development of these jackets allows the gas to have a low temperature on the way along the air box where it is kept, so that when it reaches the end of the lance there is no risk of decomposition into new gases. To address the second of them, the ease of cleaning the spear, the Ffurnari report suggests structural changes such as replacing two spears with one.

ATS used this report to carry out the project using a tool known in engineering to deal with problems with fluid dynamics issues involved: computational fluid dynamics. Already used in other engineering problems, in this case the CFD++ was very important to simulate different scenarios involving the boom and how different conditions would be able to affect it. CFD++ is software developed by Metacomp Technologies for fluid mechanics simulation, and distributed in Brazil by ATS. The software has already proven itself to be very versatile, being applied to various problems such as simulating the flow around a Brazilian navy ship to determine the landing envelope of a helicopter. Its application in combustion has also been proven, including a course on the subject was given at the IPT combustion course, in the last week of August 2017.

ATS also took care to divide its study of the Braskem case into two different domains to develop a complete material, which also takes into account specific details of Braskem’s equipment, creating a customized solution that, when implemented, had a great impact on the lives of equipment, generating savings and allowing constant use.

After an extensive study using CFD, ATS was able to create computer simulations of combustion that describe the behavior of vinyl-acetylene gas and its components and characterize them according to temperature variations inside the boom. In the construction of new fuel burners, the simulations were a crucial part to know how the structure should be built, since the knowledge of temperature profiles and other properties such as gas velocity, for example, are essential in the reformulation of the equipment in a prevent boom clogging and avoid recurring maintenance.

Drawing on its problem-handling expertise, ATS has used CFD to innovate by designing a unique vinyl-acetylene fuel burner. Considered a challenge, the project demonstrates the company’s ability to merge computational techniques and traditional engineering methodologies to obtain remarkable results in the area, evidencing its positioning as a bridge company between industry and academia.

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