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Plant modernization - Conversion from mixed firing to natural gas in specialty chemicals

SAACKE modernizes firing system from external production in refinery furnace including complete project management


Conversion of the mixed firing system of a vacuum distillation plant to natural gas including complete modernization of an external plant within a very short time.


Detailed and low-emission design, implementation of 42 natural gas lances and 14 pilot burners as well as comprehensive consulting throughout all project steps.

For almost 100 years, Hamburg-based H&R Ölwerke Schindler GmbH, a specialty chemicals company, has been operating a refinery for the production of base, white and specialty oils. In order to make the site more flexible and sustainable, especially in times of volatile market conditions, H&R commissioned SAACKE GmbH to convert an existing mixed firing system of the vacuum distillation plant to natural gas. Due to the conversion and the use of natural gas, considerable parts of the previously burned production by-products are now refined into special products. In addition to the resulting increased energy efficiency, further concrete goals were to increase the degree of automation, to reduce emissions in accordance with applicable NOx and CO limits, and to increase safety against failure.

"We can unreservedly recommend SAACKE as a problem solver for demanding projects".

- Dr.-Ing. Guido Breidenich, Business Unit Manager H&R Ölwerke Schindler GmbH

Precise planning from one source
A special challenge was the tight time frame for the implementation, because a plant shutdown means loss of production at the customer's site. In addition, the original combustion system manufacturer was no longer active in the market, so technical documentation was difficult to access. Therefore, the focus was largely on an exact analysis and extensive advance planning in order to reduce the implementation time to a minimum. In the engineering phase, it was necessary to define the pipe routing and connections and to coordinate with additional trades, experts and approving authorities. After several months of preparation, the actual conversion was successfully completed within one week.

All advantages at a glance

  • Integrated energy and process efficiency optimizes vertical integration and fuel flexibility
  • Short payback period
  • Reduced CO2 and NOx emissions
  • Short downtimes thanks to exact advance planning and training
  • Increase of the automation level of the plant
  • Increased safety against failure through modern flame monitor monitoring technology
  • Conformity with current legal requirements
  • Complete project and approval management

The SAACKE solution in detail

The 14 burners, which were previously operated with condensate oil, fuel oil and digester gas, were upgraded by 42 natural gas lances (three per burner) and ensure safe operation and reduced emissions by means of sophisticated fuel staging. Where previously each individual burner had to be ignited manually, ignition is now automated. The scope of supply also included all associated gas supply lines, a completely renewed control and monitoring technology as well as installation and commissioning. Since the conversion, the system has thus met all the relevant legal requirements and regulations (EN 746-2, EN 61508, EN 61511, VDE0116, VDE0810 Part 2).


The basis for the success of the retrofit was a detailed review of the status quo with the customer, specific know-how in combustion technology, sophisticated engineering and smooth implementation. As a result, the use of natural gas results in cost savings of around 30 percent and an average reduction in CO2 emissions of 20 percent. With an estimated payback period of two years, the plant has gained in flexibility, depth of added value and process efficiency at relatively low cost.