Vapor Recovery Unit At Koch Terminal Allows Significant Emissions Control

Sept. 1, 1999
AVAPOR recovery system installed at the Koch Industries petroleum product terminal in San Antonio, Texas, allows the company to significantly reduce volatile

AVAPOR recovery system installed at the Koch Industries petroleum product terminal in San Antonio, Texas, allows the company to significantly reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions while avoiding large capital investment, says Roger Blanton, business manager for John Zink Company LLC, the system supplier.

"With increasing economic and environmental pressures from today's business environment, the project may be an attractive alternative for other terminals facing similar issues," says Blanton.

In addition to the financial advantages of the system is that to the community, says Thomas Heilman, terminal manager. "It helps us further our goals and do our part to reduce emissions."

Managers agree that meeting environmental goals and improving community relations were important to the project - and the federal regulations had to be met. The clean air rules mandate that all new vapor control equipment be designed to limit emissions from the loading rack to 10 milligrams of hydrocarbon in the vent to atmosphere per liter of product loaded across the rack. Koch specified the emission limit from the vapor control equipment at a level lower than required - 7.5 milligrams of hydrocarbon in the vent to atmosphere per liter of product.

An added advantage is that the project avoids future concerns of carbon dioxide emission liability that may result from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol international treaty and increasing political concern surrounding greenhouse gas emissions.

The John Zink Company, a subsidiary of Koch based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a worldwide supplier of vapor control equipment for evaporative hydrocarbon emissions from storage, terminal, and degassing operations. The company has about 1,000 vapor control systems on line.

"Koch got a net positive cash flow as soon as the project was in use," said Brent Lilley, senior market analyst for Koch Petroleum Group business development.

Lilley, Blanton, and Harley Cooper, a project management director for Zink, discussed the project at the Independent Liquid Terminals Association international operating conference June 14-17 in Houston, Texas. Later, they provided an exclusive tour of the San Antonio facility to Modern Bulk Transporter.

Koch, a privately held company based in Wichita, Kansas, began evaluating the San Antonio facility after lower emissions standards were mandated by the Clean Air Act of 1990 and the Maximum Achievable Control Technology rule promulgated in 1994. In order to comply, terminals were required to upgrade or replace existing equipment that did not meet the standards.

Koch evaluated and then rejected the traditional approach to purchase air pollution control equipment and instead opted for vapor recovery services, says Blanton. The service includes equipment owned by John Zink and provided at no capital outlay to Koch except for the installation cost. In addition, John Zink conducts vapor recovery unit compliance testing; supplies equipment service maintenance on a scheduled, on-call basis; and furnishes required equipment parts and an online operating guarantee. John Zink Company assigned a full-time operations technician, Greg Babcock, to the site.

The service is provided for a monthly fee, plus a portion of the revenue stream from the recovered product generated by the new unit - about 1.6 gallons recovered for each 1,000 gallons loaded. That adds up to 14.4 gallons for a 9,000-gallon tank truck.

Installation cost, including piping for two absorbent tanks, was $120,000. Blanton estimates the bottom-line benefit will be a 191% rate of return and a payback on the capital investment within six months.

The majority of the vapor recovery system was fabricated and assembled in Tulsa and shipped to San Antonio. Raymond Control Systems supplied the actuators that control Flow Seal valves on the carbon tanks.

An EPA-required continuous emission monitor output is used as a process variable to fully utilize the whole capacity of the activated carbon contained in each absorber before regeneration. "This is an improvement over the traditional time cycle regeneration method where the regeneration skid of the unit is controlled by a loading signal from the rack," says Blanton. "This system has an appropriate delay based on the actual emission rate, not on the loading run."

Equipment and tanks are painted white throughout the vapor recovery and storage area to reflect sunlight in an effort to reduce heat.

Chicago Inc blowers maintain a slightly negative pressure at the loading racks as is required for the system. Rosemont Inc transmitters provide a reading to a computer for pressure and temperature. General Electric supplies a programmable logic controller (PLC). Components in the filter and recovery unit include a motor from US Motors Inc and a booster blower from M&D Pneumatics.

Average annual positive cash flow from the system to Koch is estimated at $248,000.

Preventive Maintenance Preventive maintenance is included for the company's existing vapor combustion unit, which was left in place and used as an automatic backup for the new vapor recovery unit, said Cooper.

At the 55-acre San Antonio terminal and storage facility, 175 to 200 trucks are loaded daily for about an average of 1 million gallons per day. Storage capacity at the terminal is about 195,000 barrels of unleaded gasoline, 35,000 barrels of commercial jet fuel, and 95,000 barrels of diesel.

Koch receives several benefits from the arrangement, including significant capital savings, product recovery, lower operating and maintenance costs, fewer parts purchases, reduced rack downtime, and increased efficiencies in utilization of terminal operators.

Annual savings for reduced downtime are estimated at $134,000. About $415,000 is realized for recovered product, primarily gasoline.

Since 1990, Koch has spent $800 million on environmental protection equipment for all its facilities, not including the day-to-day cost of employing over 100 fulltime environmental professionals and maintaining community outreach, environmental protection, and compliance systems. In 1997-98, Koch conducted a review of all environmental requirements that apply to its facilities, including nearly 10,000 permits. "The effort, which involved 200 consultants and a $6-million investment, reassured Koch that it was operating on a firm foundation for environmental excellence," says Blanton.