An Engineering Excellence Award presented to George Brown, Arturo Gomez-Rubio, Concetta LaMarca and Minye Liu honored their success in designing an innovative process to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. The Borderland Plant in El Paso, Texas, had to achieve reductions of emissions to:
- Meet environmental limits
- Improve product quality
- Allow a key on-site refinery customer to shut down sulfur recovery units
The known solution to reduce NOx to acceptable levels would cost $12-$15 million and require an 18-month construction period because it would involve the installation of an additional furnace for the two Borderland operating lines.
Using computational fluid dynamic and chemical process modeling, this team developed an innovative plan that required less than half the investment and took half the time for implementation. They designed modifications to the existing combustion chamber for each of the two operating lines, which required back-to-back production line shutdowns. Communications kept the refinery customers well aware of the project’s progress.
In less than nine months, the Borderland Plant met its annual NOx emissions requirements and demonstrated its ability to operate at maximum feed rates from the refinery. Significantly improved product quality met the original project commitments. This project has potential application for other Clean Technology offerings.
The benefit to the Clean Technologies business was $10 million pre-tax operating income (PTOI). This solution allowed the refinery customer to idle operation of its sulfur recovery units in less-than-expected time at less-than-expected cost and proved that DuPont has the capabilities to design and implement successful technologies at other locations in the future.