Large scale hydrogen production has been commercially practiced for decades and the demand for such production has grown over that period. In the last several years, developments in crude oil processing, such as the increased use of hydrogen to remove sulfur and the refinement of heavier crude oil stocks, has driven significant growth in the demand for hydrogen supply.
In response to this demand, industrial gas companies operate and maintain large scale hydrogen production facilities worldwide and have done so with an exemplary safety record for many years. However, it should be noted that large scale hydrogen production involves potential personnel and process safety hazards that must be addressed in design and operation. Such hazard potential is inherent to the processing of toxic and flammable gases via high temperature reforming as practiced in hydrogen production.
The steam reformer represents the core operating unit of most large scale hydrogen production facilities. The products from the steam reformer are collected and transferred to downstream unit operations by a collection and transfer header system. The interior of the outlet system is subjected to high temperature, pressure, and hydrogen attack, while the outside is subjected to ambient conditions. The increasing severity of the service has resulted in a number of failures and therefore requires appropriate operation and maintenance.
This publication applies to steam reformers that are operated with natural gas, refinery off gas, naphtha, and other light hydrocarbon streams. It specifically applies to large volume hydrogen production plants, defined for this publication as a nominal production capacity of 10 000 Nm3/hr (approximately 9 MMSCFD) or greater. This publication may also be applied to smaller reformers depending on the technology used.
This publication may also be used for similar applications such as internally insulated piping in a partial oxidation unit. Applicability for cases other than what is described in the publication is left to the reader.
The purpose of this publication is to inform and guide interested parties on the procedures and practices related to the mechanical integrity of syngas outlet systems. This publication presents a baseline for safe reformer header system operation. This publication provides a technical basis that can be used to present a common viewpoint to government and regulatory authorities, ensuring proper application of rules and regulations.
The publication is part of the programme to develop Globally Harmonised publications amongst Regional Gas Associations.