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Simulator For Teaching Process Heater Operating Principles

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

E-Learning in Chemical Engineering

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1062.1 - 14.1062.12



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Paper Authors

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Charles Baukal John Zink Institute

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Wes Bussman John Zink Institute

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Simulator for Teaching Process Heater Operating Principles


Process heaters are used in the hydrocarbon and chemical processing industries (HPI/CPI) to heat hydrocarbon fluids that are being converted into fuels like gasoline or chemicals like ethylene. Process heater operation involves combustion, heat transfer, and fluid flow principles. It is not practical to use an actual working heater to teach these principles. This paper describes an electronic process heater simulator that was developed for instructing engineers and operators on heater and burner operation.


Simulators have been used for many years, for example, in the nuclear and aerospace industries to simulate both normal operating conditions as well as potentially dangerous situations. The latter may rarely if ever be seen in actual practice, but it is imperative that operators be prepared for them in the event they ever do occur. In either case, it is generally not practical or preferable to let new operators learn initially on the actual equipment because of the potentially dangerous consequences of making a mistake. Even if an operating error did not result in an unsafe condition, it could result in lost production, reduced efficiency, or increased pollutant emissions that could have detrimental economic ramifications for a plant. For these reasons, most new operators would not be permitted to make adjustments on this type of equipment until they have had sufficient training. The challenge is to give them realistic training before they work with the actual equipment.

Figure 1. Schematic of a typical process heater.

Process heaters (see Figure 1) are used in the chemical and refining industries to heat hydrocarbon fluids flowing through tubes inside the radiant and convection sections. These

Baukal, C., & Bussman, W. (2009, June), Simulator For Teaching Process Heater Operating Principles Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5290

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