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GE’s fuel flex technology helps CAPSA enable Spain’s oil refinery to meet strict European emissions standards

27th May 2015

The project marks first use of high hydrogen fuel technology with premix combustion for B/E class turbines to run on refinery fuel gas in the petrochemical industry

The CEPSA Gibraltar-San Roque refinery
The CEPSA Gibraltar-San Roque refinery

To meet environmental emissions restrictions without reducing efficiency or increasing operational costs, Compañia Española de Petróleos (CEPSA), one of Spain’s leading petrochemical companies, has adopted new GE gas turbine technology at its Gibraltar-San Roque refinery.

Developed by GE’s Power Generation Services business, the fuel-flexible High Hydrogen Fuel DLN1 technology increased the gas turbine’s efficiency by enabling it to use recycled refinery fuel gas (RFG) without needing additional water to generate power.

“GE Power Generation Services’ solution helped us to increase plant efficiency and reduce our environmental footprint, supporting our goals to produce cleaner energy and meet the region’s increasingly stringent emissions requirements,” said Antonio Berlanga, CEPSA’s operation manager. ”We appreciate GE’s commitment to investing in flexible and efficient technologies that enable us to reduce our emissions footprint.”

Refinery gases are used as fuel for CEPSA’s internal processes with excess gas flared. GE’s turbine configuration recaptures and reduces waste gas that otherwise must be flared or burned off. The gas, known as RFG, is a typical byproduct of the refining process and contains hydrogen and hydrocarbons, which contribute to greenhouse gases.

Using GE’s technology, refineries around the world can reduce both water consumption and emissions, helping them comply with tightening environmental regulations while also reducing operating expenses.

“GE is pleased to showcase the operational benefits, which is the first use of this technology for B/E Class turbines to run on refinery fuel gas in the petrochemical industry,” said Ramon Paramio, Europe general manager for GE Power Generation Services—GE Power & Water. “This project illustrates our commitment to working with our customers to develop innovative fuel flexible technology solutions that help refinery operators around the world meet their operational, environmental and financial requirements.”

This is the first time a refinery has adopted a process that uses RFG to power turbines for generating electricity without using water and reflects the fuel flexibility of GE’s 6B DLN1 heavy-duty gas turbine design that blends startup fuel (natural gas) with RFG fuel. The flexible fuel configuration caps GE’s three-year research and development effort.

GE completed the conversion process more than a year ago and since then, the unit has increased the power plant’s efficiency and lowered the release of gaseous emissions. The use of waste (RFG) gas has decreased the need to purchase natural gas resulting in a 7 percent heat rate improvement. CEPSA also has realized a 90 percent reduction in NOx emission with GE’s DLN1 combustion system.

Since the upgrade, the new combustion system hardware’s condition has exceeded CEPSA’s expectations as the unit has accumulated 10,000 hours of operation on RFG. In addition, the new configuration of the combustion system has 24,000 hours inspection intervals, which is three time longer than the previous combustion system. This extension will reduce the plant’s operating costs.

CEPSA operates three refineries that account for more than one-third of Spain’s total refining capacity.


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