Optimization of the Design of Coke Drum Support Structure

Delayed coking is an integral process in upgrading heavy, unusable crude oil to lighter, usable products such as gasoline. Coke drums are insulated, vertically oriented cylindrical pressure vessels that facilitate such a process. Due to the process of delayed coking, these drums are subjected to cyclic thermal-mechanical loading and episodes of thermal shock. One of the potential areas of failure is the shell-to-skirt junction. A skirt assembly is used to support the vessel while allowing for the drum to transition from cylindrical to conical in geometry at the bottom of the coke drum. It also allows the drum to be supported on a raised platform in order to easily remove the petroleum coke. Recently, several designs have been drafted in an effort to mitigate failures at the shell-to-skit junction. The objective of the research project will be to evaluate these designs for their reliability and then to optimize the most effective skirt assembly design. The partner organizations will then be able to implement the results of this project into their new skirt designs and maintenance of existing skirt structures in order to make them more reliable in the future.

Faculty Supervisor:

Dr. Zihui Xia


Edward Wang


Husky Energy Ltd.


Engineering - mechanical




University of Alberta



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