Glycol Dehydrator – Leaking Feed-Effluent Exchanger

The hot glycol from the reboiler is cooled by heat exchange with the wet glycol from the contactor. This heat transfer typically takes place in a double-pipe or plate-type exchanger. On one of the double-pipe heat exchangers, I noticed that the reboiled glycol was being cooled to a rather low temperature. I suspected that this could be an indication of a leaking feed-effluent exchanger. That is, cooler (120°F) wet glycol might be leaking into warmer (165°F) dry glycol. To verify my suspicions, I blocked in the dry glycol at the reboiler and at the suction to the pump. The appearance of a steady stream of liquid at an intervening bleeder confirmed that the feed-effluent exchanger was leaking, hi effect, wet glycol was bypassing the reboiler and flowing straight back to the contactor tower.

After fixing the leak, this reboiler and the units that had suffered from an inefficient pump and a faulty temperature controller were put back on-line. The treated natural gas was checked and found to meet pipeline moisture specifications.