Protomation – High fidelity Operator Training Solutions

+31 46 4584748

Generic Reformer

Project Description



The Process Studio Generic Reformer application is a dynamic simulation of a Steam Reformer with ESD interlocking and process controls included.

The application contains 2 states. The 100% Steady state and the Cold Start-up state. In the steady state the reformer is running at 100% load. In the start-up state (0% load) all rotating equipment is shutdown, all valves are in start-up state, and all systems are at ambient pressure and temperature. From this state the system can be started. The simulation contains DCS graphics and field operator graphics. This simulation can be handled by 2 trainees, one “field operator” and one “process operator”. But it’s also possible that the trainee handles both of them.


The steam reformer is used to convert natural gas (or other hydrocarbon fuels) to a mixture of mostly hydrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and water. This mixture is often called synthesis gas.  The resulting synthesis gas will have an optimized composition that suits several subsequent chemical processes.

Figure 1


All process equipment models are fully real-time dynamic and cover the complete operating window, allowing practicing of startup, handling (ab) normal operations and shutdown of the plant. The simulation includes equipment for desulfurization, furnace operation, burner operation and combustion and flue gas flow operations are provided for the Reformer operation.


Description Reformer Process
All the sulphur components present in the feedstock have to be removed. Sulphur is a poison for the reforming catalyst and can also cause excessive corrosion. In the generic reformer, sulfur removal is done in 2 steps:
1. Converting organic sulphur compounds to H2S
2. Absorbing the H2S with a (zinc-oxide) based absorbent.

Figure 2


When the natural gas is desulfurized it is transported to the Saturator E004. In the saturator it is heated against reformed gas. Water is circulated over the heat exchanger to saturate the gas. After the saturator, more steam is added to the gas flow to achieve the desired Steam/Carbon (S/C) ratio.

Figure 3


The process gas is further heated in the convection section in E007A and E007B, before entering the reformer tubes. The reformer tubes are filled with catalyst. The firebox heats the process gas to 825-870 °C (depending on the life of the catalyst (this can be set by the instructor)) to reach the desired conversion. The reformed gas is then quickly cooled to about 350 °C in the transfer line exchangers E019A/B, stopping further reactions. The heat is used to produce high pressure steam.
The reformed gas is further used to heat the incoming process gas in E004 and preheat the BFW in E017.

Figure 4


Any condensed water is separated in V020, from where it flows under level control to V021. The gas is further cooled in E025 against fluids from other operation units. The condensed water is collected in V022 and send under level control to V021 (LIC175). The process gas is finally cooled in fin-fan condenser E023. The condensed water here is collected in V024 and send to battery limit. The cooled reformed gas is send to downstream units. The heat needed for the reforming process is coming from the burners. To get the burners on fire, air and fuel is needed. The fuel is coming from battery limit and the air is provided by the fans K012 and K014. The air is transported to the burners via E015 and E015. In E013 and E015 the air is heated before it is discharged to the burners.

Figure 5


Simulator features
The Reformer application is based on a high-fidelity and robust dynamic process model that includes the complete plant in full detail:

  • Desulfurization;
  • ID/FD Fans;
  • Convection section;
  • Saturation;
  • Reformed gas cooling and
  • Waste heat boiler.


The simulator also allows training in a (local) network:

  • An instructor can monitor and interact with trainees. Process Instructor is used for the creation of training scripts, either manually controlled or fully automated. Disturbances and interferences can disturb the process. Trainee’s progress and scores can be monitored. Assessment of training results.
  • Some typical disturbances are: tube rupture in a heat exchanger, rupture/leak on the reformer tubes, a broken valve, an offset or noise can be set on each measurement.
  • Trainees can cooperate on a single model. Process Trainee is used to run the training scripts created with Process Instructor. The ongoing session can be saved in a snapshot to be resumed later. Process Trainee includes the possibility to replay earlier saved snapshots.
  • Field operator can be used to perform field actions.


Process Interface
The operator controls the simulated plant by means of Process Studio® DCS emulating process interface comprising graphics, faceplate groups, faceplates, and alarm and trend displays similar to a real DCS.

Figure 6


Process Studio
Process Studio allows you to customize the simulator and create, store, play and replay your own training scripts. Furthermore the trainee’s interaction with the process and his response to process disturbances can be monitored on-line or stored for later evaluation by an instructor. The simulator can be run in real-time, showing the same dynamics as the actual plant, as well as accelerated, speeding up the dynamics of the actual plant. Furthermore the simulator can be adapted to meet customer specific plant design and operation.


Are you interested? Contact our sales department, click here.

Project Details