A set of Heavy Vacuum Gas Oil (HVGO) pumps in a 300 kbbl/day operating Upgrader Plant experienced repeated failures; typically less than 7 weeks. The pumps run continuously in a high-pressure, high temperature and corrosive environment and their functional status directly affects the reliability of the plant. Upon research, an experimental strain measurement technique using very high resolution laser digital imagery and optical metrology was found from military and advanced aerospace applications to verify high level dimensional accuracy of critical components [1]. Application to a complex and operating bitumen upgrader was unknown.

The objective of this project was to use advanced optical metrology with digital image processing techniques employing multiple laser and high-speed cameras capable of generating pump and pipe component’s real time strain images, displacement and rate of change. Optical metrology can analyze the mechanical properties and behavior of many materials and in various test scenarios [2]. Hot and cold operating service, with variations in flow and temperature all dynamically affect the strain measurements. Three significant advantages of the optical method are:

i. Avoids a host of problems of strain gauge application, wiring and setup.

ii. The problems of temperature sensitivity and correction are overcome. [3]

iii. Gathers much more extensive data than possible with traditional methods.

The vibration characteristics of the pumps and related hardware were analyzed using high resolution laser and photogrammetric digital imagery and digital strain mapping analysis to determine the characteristics that would ensure the long-term reliable and safe operation of the HVGO pumps. The stress and deformation analysis were performed on the operating pumps in a variety of normal (1280 m3/hr.) and upset operating conditions including under partial and full load conditions. Dynamic and modal analysis of the pumps was developed and analyzed. The displacement and tensor fields of the hardware including the pumps, bases and piping were measured using high resolution laser cameras and analyzed.

From the high-speed data gathering and loading analysis showed the deformation and stress affecting the pump and related hardware. The key variables undermining reliable performance were revealed and from the data the necessary remedial action was determined. The pumps have operated for over 30months to the time of writing without repeat failure.

This paper should be read in conjunction with PVP 2020-21203; Investigation and Resolution of the Fluid Structure Interaction of High Rate HVGO Pumps.

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