Expansion joints for refineries

Petroleum refineries are very complex and involve many different processing units and auxiliary facilities to produce petroleum products from crude oil. Although each refinery has its own unique configuration and combination of refining processes, depending on the products manufactured, many refineries will have similar process equipment installed.

Fluid Catalytic Cracking Units (FCCU), also referred to as the “Cat Cracker”, is considered the heart of the refinery. The process takes heavy crude oil and converts it into a number of more valuable products including liquefied petroleum gas, gasoline, kerosene, jet fuel, diesel oil, Propylene and some Fuel Oils.

The “Cat Cracker” operates at very high pressures and temperatures (760 °C / 1400 ºF), consequently resulting in large thermal movements that must be absorbed by the expansion joint. Adding catalyst to the refining process exposes the expansion joint to gradual deterioration and possible premature failure if the right design is not installed or if crucial components are missing.

Expansion joints in a general FCCU system