Exx-Wash™ compressor wash oils are specifically designed to remove foulants and clean process gas compressors.
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Ethylene industry overview: opportunities and challenges

Shale gas production offers opportunities and challenges

New fracturing and drilling technologies are continuously increasing the shale gas capacity, offering both opportunities and challenges to the ethylene industry. This rising availability has the potential to reduce operational costs but goes hand in hand with fouling issues and an increased need for compressor wash oils. ExxonMobil Exx-Wash™ portfolio offers an efficient and reliable solution to meet this need.

The opportunity: growing shale gas production

U.S. natural gas production is projected to grow nearly 4% annually until 2020 and approximately 1% annually between 2020 and 2040. This is the result of the continued development of shale gas and tight oil plays which will account for nearly two-thirds of natural gas production by 20401. The growing availability of natural gas is an opportunity for the ethylene industry, as it has led to lower cost feedstocks for gas cracking and thus the addition of new gas cracking capacity.

1U.S. Energy Information Administration | Annual Energy Outlook 2017
US shale gas production
Shale production graph

The challenge: increased compressor fouling

The relatively low ethane price relative to the prices of oil-based naphtha and gasoil feedstock have resulted in a relatively higher ethane feedstock in the North American ethylene production2.

2 U.S. Energy Information Administration | Annual Energy Outlook 2015

Ethylene production by feedstock in North America
Ethylene production feedstock graph

With the recent shift toward lighter ethylene cracking feeds in North America, fouling problems have increased. Gas crackers specifically face fouling issues due to the low volume of heavier aromatic fluids formed during cracking. Furthermore, increased ethylene production from ethane has led to fewer internal heavy streams available for use as a wash oil.

As fouling occurs, the compressor’s flow is restricted, resulting in increasing frictional pressure drop. Leading to disrupted pressure and distribution profiles and increased temperature, power requirements and suction pressure. In the end your gas compressor’s yield and capacity will decline. Heavy aromatic fluids have a proven track record as effective compressor wash oils but have at times faced supply and availability challenges.

The result: increasing demand for wash oils

Increased capacity has resulted in rising demand for compressor wash oil. Furthermore the transition of some naphtha (liquid) crackers to gas feedstocks has further grown demand for compressor wash oil. With this transition less internal streams are available for use as compressor wash oil. Current products used for compressor wash oil are generally C10-C12+ aromatic based.

Exx-wash compressor wash oil in lab

Exx-Wash™ key benefits for efficient cleaning

ExxonMobil Exx-Wash™ can meet your requirements for efficient compressor cleaning

As a result of the shift towards ethane for ethylene production, your cracker gas compressors might be facing increasing fouling problems. ExxonMobil Exx-Wash is an aromatic solvent which acts as a compressor wash oil to remove the foulants and restore your compressor’s efficiency. There are two grades within the portfolio which can serve your specific operating conditions.

Key benefits and specs of Exx-Wash compressor wash oil

ExxonMobil Product Solutions has a solution that can meet your needs: Exx-Wash, a portfolio of tailored injection wash oils to maintain cleaning efficiency.

Overview of products and typical values
Exx-wash compressor wash oil overview

Typical values indicated in this chart describe typical physical properties and do not constitute specification limits. The typical value may vary over time.
Test methods are available on request and consistent with sales specifications.

Exx-Wash compressor wash oil is specifically designed to deliver an array of benefits for olefins manufacturers:

  • Offers efficient cleaning due to strong solvency
  • Provides two grades each with a distinct and narrow boiling range to accommodate your specific operating conditions
  • Minimizes corrosion and fouling due to very low sulfur levels and low “heavies” content
  • Delivers consistent quality for process gas compressor operability and reliability optimization

What are the properties of an efficient compressor wash oil?

The key properties of an efficient and effective compressor wash oil are strong solvency, excellent volatility in the desired distillation range and fluids purity. Discover how Exx-Wash performs by selecting the property of your choice.

Exx-wash compressor wash oil plant

Delivering results for olefin manufacturers with Exx‑Wash™

Keep your business in motion with Exx-Wash™

A contaminated process gas compressor takes away efficiency from your olefin production process and will result in a declining yield. To keep your production stable, fouling prevention is paramount. ExxonMobil’s aromatic solvent Exx-Wash has the key properties you need to keep your compressors operational and your business in motion.

How do you improve compressor efficiency with Exx‑Wash?

ExxonMobil Product Solutions' Exx-Wash process oil portfolio is specifically designed to deliver an array of benefits for olefins manufacturers.

This is a simulation of foulant removal with Exx-Wash™
In addition to acting as a solvent to remove foulants and clean process gas compressors, Exx-Wash process oils can be used in the cleaning of heat exchangers for dehydrogenation technologies including propane dehydrogenation. Exx-Wash can also be used as a quench oil.

Minimum emulsion

Density delta increases with increasing temperature. A density comparison: Exx-Wash™ 240 vs. water:


Exx-wash compressor wash oil density comparison graph

It’s so good – we use Exx-Wash™ in our own operations

We stand by the quality of our own products and use Exx-Wash™ 240 in our ethylene compressor operations on a daily basis. Our engineers have this to say about the product:

“By switching to Exx-Wash™ 240 ExxonMobil Product Solutions realized improvement to ethylene compressor operations in the stabilization of the compressor efficiency.”

ExxonMobil, Basic Chemicals
Exx-wash compressor wash oil simulation tool

Simulation tool

Select the operating condition that best represents your gas process compressor and discover the maximum temperature at constant pressure, or the minimum pressure at constant temperature. This is visualized in the graph below: above the product line, the Exx-Wash wash oil is expected to be liquid, below it is expect to be in the gas phase.

How to interpret your results

Product performance is best when the stage points are above the pressure/temperature curves. This gives an indication that the Exx-Wash compressor wash oil is expected to remain liquid upon injection or under ideal conditions.

Operating Condition

Temperature (°F) Pressure (psig) Pressure (psia)
Stage Point Input 1 14.7
Stage Point Input 2 14.7

Operating Condition vs Exx-Wash™ Process Oil Vapor Pressure

Exx-Wash™ 190
Exx-Wash™ 240
Exx-Wash™ 270S
Stage point input
Points are determined by ExxonMobil data
Data obtained from ASTM D86 or Density spot data

Featured resources

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Compressor wash oil: What's new?

Avoid increased process gas compressor fouling: wash oil is the remedy.

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