Turning crude oil into the assorted things that are made from crude oil, including butane, jet fuel, diesel, and gasoline, are all produced by what is called a “fractional distillation” process. In short, the distillation process separates out many various products, with every product being a refined subset of the original crude oil material.
As the oil is distilled into fractions there are vapors that also form. The first gas that forms is a volatile gas known as methane, and because there is not any other effective way of handling the methane byproduct the refinery transfers the methane for it to be burned off by a flare stack. When methane is burned it turns into other materials: carbon dioxide and water. Water is without a doubt an eco-friendly material. Carbon dioxide is also a naturally occurring element in our atmosphere and is actually a vital part of the ecology. All plant life requires carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. And although carbon-dioxide is considered a greenhouse gas and possibly dangerous if it exceeds ordinary levels in our atmosphere, methane is a far more concerning compound allowing for potential greenhouse effects, so changing methane into CO2 is a very favorable process from an environmental viewpoint.
This is one reason why the flare stack is an important component of any refinery construction.
Flare stack construction is done through precise engineering execution. Flare systems involve tall stacks as an important component, since high stacks help to guarantee best dispersion. Stacks can often include a steam element to reduce the formation of black smoke which often accompanies the burning process. Purge gas flows steadily and the pilots burn nonstop ensuring the system is always ready to do its other critical task: burning refinery gas in the event of over-pressurization. A flare stack is thus an essential part to plant safety. Stacks are exposed to high heat and high winds and unceasing use, so guaranteeing they are constructed well is vital.
While flare stack construction is an exact science, experts in the field have made stack construction and assembly a streamlined element of refinery construction. In May of 2006, trade magazineThe Future did an article on the Flares and Stacks’ involvement in the assembly of a stack at the Ultracracker refinery in Texas City, TX, the country’s third-largest refinery with capacity to process more than 430,000 barrels of oil daily. The stack was built in sections. Fabrication is often done at the facility of the company concentrating on flare and stack components, and the Flares and Stacks fabrication crew fabricated the stack parts at the Flares and Stacks facility. The parts were then taken to the refinery and then, like stacking one block on top of another, it was assembled on site. With cranes, some scaffolding, and most significantly with the Flares and Stacks professionals who act as a productive, safety-conscious and highly knowledgeable team, the sections fit perfectly, one on top of another, up into the sky, 300 feet high. Once the flare components are installed and the tower is secured with acceptable guy wires it is ready for service. Flare systems built by Flares and Stacks, Inc. are built to be ever-ready to play their part in the refining process that turns crude oil into the fuels that run our lives, all while protecting the environment from by-product waste.