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Quantifying The Products Of Incomplete Combustion From Petroleum, Petrochemical & Chemical Sector
Gas-Fired Process Heaters & Industrial Boilerse

Authored by:  J.G. Seebold

Corresponding Author: J.G.Seebold

198 James Avenue, Atherton, CA, USA
Phone: (650) 322-9893 

A mail can be sent to the Corresponding Author at jim.seebold@earthlink.net

Jim Seebold was the driving force behind the PERF 92-19 project to quantify the hazardous emissions from fired equipment in the refining, petrochemical, and chemical industries.  He recounts, in characteristic manner, the context, approach and results using BERL at Sandia Laboratories provide the necessary evidence for the regulatory bodies concerned about these emissions.  This work demonstrated the absence of emissions under normal operating conditions and quantified species formed under severe upset conditions – highly aerated and extremely fuel rich.  Even is none of the technical content interests you, read this paper for the refreshing literary style.

Key Words:

Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA); Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA); Industrial Combustion Coordinated Rulemaking (ICCR); Products of Incomplete Combustion (PICs); Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs); Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs); Polycyclic Organic Matter (POMs); Benzene-Toluene-Xylene (BTX); Light Volatile Organic Compounds (LVOCs); Heavy Volatile Organic Compounds (HVOCs); Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT); Petroleum Environmental Research Forum (PERF); Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore, California Combustion Research Facility Burner Engineering Research Laboratory (BERL); Convection Section Simulator (CSS); Conventional Diffusion Flame Burner (CDFB); Low NOx Diffusion Flame Burner (LDFB) Partially Premixed Combustion, NOx, soot, multiple injection, ignition delay, Exhaust Gas Recirculation


The petroleum, petrochemical and chemical sectors are the most combustion-intensive of all of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Industries of the Future.  The average garden-variety 300,000 barrels per day oil refinery has over 50 process heaters and industrial boilers typically firing hydrocarbon gaseous fuels at upwards of 3 billion Btu/hr continuously year-in, year-out to provide the energy products upon which America depends.  In the United States, the 1990 Amendments to the Clean Air Act required the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to promulgate new regulations on emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from petroleum, petrochemical and chemical sector process heaters and industrial boilers.  Unfortunately, the good science upon which to base those regulations was well known to be extremely limited and the paucity of field data then extant was widely recognized to be severely flawed.  Accordingly, PERF 92-19 was conceived to enable concerned individuals on all sides of the US EPA’s Industrial Combustion Coordinated Rulemaking (ICCR) table to understand the emissions from petroleum, petrochemical and chemical sector gas-fired process heaters and industrial boilers.  Utilizing beyond state-of-the-art measurement techniques, the project produced actual detections of the chemical kinetically-expectable hydrocarbon species emissions1 at concentrations so low as to demonstrate conclusively that they pose no threat whatsoever to public health and welfare. The result?  Ultimately no regulations related to the products of incomplete combustion (PICs) from gas-fired petroleum, petrochemical and chemical sector process heaters or industrial boilers appeared in the US EPA’s subsequently promulgated Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rules and no published health effects studies have appeared to date for the reason that there is simply no story there. The process and product of the landmark PERF 92-19 study are recorded in this paper.

1 N.B., a table identifying the 59 hydrocarbon species that were actually detected and reliably quantified during the course of this study has been appended to this paper.


Publication in Industrial Combustion
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