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World’s largest Crude Distillation Column for processing crude oil finally arrives at Dangote refinery site

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Aliko Dangote, Africa’s wealthiest man, has taken delivery of the World’s largest single Crude Distillation Column, at his refinery site in Lagos.

The atmospheric tower arrived at Ibeju Lekki, Lagos Nigeria after spending 4 months on the sea.

On July 29, the equipment built by Sinopec slowly left a wharf in Ningbo, China, following the Maritime Silk Road.

Dangote Group described the equipment as the biggest single-train facility used for refining crude and it is the primary unit processor of crude oil into fuels.

Capt. Rajen Sachar, Head, Maritime and Ports Infrastructure at Dangote Group, explained that crude oil consists of various chemical components that have different molecular sizes, molecular weights, and boiling temperatures.

He said the crude distillation column works on the principle of fractional distillation, leading to the separation of various components in the mixture based on their different boiling points.

“Crude oil enters the top of the column, where the inlet temperature is 165 degrees Celsius, gradually increasing to 357 degrees Celsius at the bottom of the column.

“During this passage, the crude and its vapors pass through a complex web of internal trays to increase the contact time and surface area within the column, with the hot vapors traveling upwards through bubble caps which allow the vapor to pass through the tray with the cooler liquid flowing down the column.

“When the vapor reaches the height within the column where its boiling point is equal to the temperature of the column at that height, it condenses to form a liquid. The liquid then collects on various trays in the column at differing heights from where it is extracted out of the column.

“It is, therefore, critical to controlling the heat load of the column to optimise the crude crack. These separated fractions are mainly middle distillates namely, Naphtha, Jet Fuel, Kerosene, Gasoline, and Gas Oil,” Sachar said.

World's largest atmospheric tower built by Sinopec for Dangote refinery (Twitter/ Sinopecnews)
World’s largest atmospheric tower built by Sinopec for Dangote refinery (Twitter/ Sinopecnews)

According to Sinopec. China’s energy and chemical company, the atmospheric tower has a diameter of 12 meters, a length of 112.56 meters and a unit weight of 2252 tons.

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