H2 Plant Revamp & Capacity Expansion

Over 400 round furnace reformer plants have been delivered by firms that have exited the industry.  Hydrogenics, Howmar, Axsia, CB&I, Glitch, Koch and Pan American, amongst others.  These plants require periodic revamp, as reformer tubes, headers, catalysts, boiler economizers and pressure swing adsorber units inevitably fail over time.  Older plants, especially, contain materials and design features that are often quite out-dated, and can’t be directly replaced without revised engineering to reflect modern ASME Code requirements.  These inevitable revamp projects present important opportunities to improve the performance, reliability and safety of existing hydrogen plants.

As hydrogen plant specialists, Headwaters can simulate your plant’s performance based on your historical run data and our detailed process and heat transfer models, and identify any possible bottlenecks in system performance to tailor the revamped plant performance to meet your business objectives. We evaluate and assist owners of many plants with different design philosophies and operational history, from recent units to ones with over 50 years of operational history.  Headwaters encounters common failure modes across all of the different plant designs to differing degrees, and can offer replacement equipment designs which incorporate lessons learned from a variety of operators and plant designers from across the decades.  This body of experience is continuously growing, and combined with our own core technology in Pressure Swing Adsorption, allows us to provide a unique level of service to hydrogen plant operators.

Pressure Swing Adsorption systems in smaller hydrogen plants ≤10 MMscfd often employ antiquated cycle designs with poor hydrogen recovery, often around 70%.  They also often lack advanced features like purity feedback control and the ability to take a bed offline for maintenance while the plant is running.  Further, the design and fabrication of the adsorber vessels for these older plants often do not comply with published best practices employed by major operating companies, leading to frequent, early failure through hydrogen fatigue cracking.  This results in a typical 10 year period between major repair and/or replacement of adsorbent vessels, compared to the 30 year life mandated by world class operating companies.  Headwaters is able to design replacement PSA systems to meet the published design standards of major operators, and conducts ASME Code-required Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to design every PSA adsorber vessel.  Because of the advances in technology and the smaller size of a modern PSA, it is usually possible to supply a complete, new PSA unit for approximately the same cost as overhauling an older unit.  Furthermore, modern PSA technology employed by Headwaters facilitates 82% to 87% hydrogen recovery, increasing hydrogen output of the plant as much as 25% while reducing feedstock consumption per unit hydrogen at the same time.