Acumen Waste Services Awarded the Vessel Handler for a North Lincolnshire Refinery

Acumen Waste Services were awarded the material handling work scope for a North Lincolnshire Refinery including the change out on; 3 catalyst vessels, 4 Sand filter vessels, 3 Raschig ring vessels, 1 clay vessel, 1 ceramic saddle vessel. As it was the first large Acumen lead work scope for the customer, the team called upon the knowledge and experience of the company which is only seen in some of the larger catalyst handling firms throughout the UK and Western Europe. This attribute was one of the leading components into Acumen being awarded the contract as well as the company’s ability to dispose of the waste from site which was greatly needed due to their small storage area.

Catalyst Vessel Exposure Obstacle and Solution

The Catalyst vessels required unloading via wet dumping through them bottom manway into a skip. This is due to the pyrophoric (def: liable to ignite spontaneously on exposure to air) nature of the Catalyst, which always needed to be kept wet to stop the ignition and heating process. The Acumen team utilised a purpose-built vacuum unit and material hopper system, to remove the material from the skip safely. Following the removal from the skip, the material would be discharged from the hopper into specialist drums, which would be sealed immediately and removed from the area to a safe location. During this process the operatives required breathing apparatus inside the barrier exclusion zone around the discharge manway of the vessel. BA was worn to protect the operatives from dust exposure and possible Nitrogen pockets within the material which may escape the vessel during the unloading phase.

Once the vessel was empty, the team made entry wearing the bottle-fed BA for the final clean. The refinery engineers then deem the vessel clean to allow the re-loading of the vessels to begin with the new catalyst material. The re-load again utilised the use of specially designed material handling hoppers, with discharge valves and rigid hose as it was a side manway entry point. The team loaded the ceramics and catalyst through the top manway until the predetermined loading height was obtained.

Raschig Ring Vessel Changeover and Removal

The scope for the Raschig ring vessels, required the removal of hold down tray to allow access into the ring storage area and remove the rings via vacuum unit and hopper system, to then be discharged into big bags.

Once the vessel had been cleaned internally by the operative, it is then inspected by the refinery engineers and if it passes it is ready for loading. The reloading phase of the vessel utilises a crane, this is used for lifting the new Raschig rings up to the load point. Once lifted into position, the bags are opened and discharged through our specially designed material handling funnel into the vessel. Once the loading has been completed the tray work is refitted and inspected by an engineer, so the vessel can go back online.

Acumen’s team of experts have vast experience in handling catalyst and other vessel changeover processes as well as experience in other maintenance and industrial cleaning services. The bespoke vehicles and equipment allow an exceptional but cost-effective service to be provided to the Lincolnshire Refineryand other customers.

For more information about Industrial Site Services including Catalyst Handling, any other services or to discuss a potential project, please get in touch today on 01977 529586 or email

“Using this kind of entry process utilises the use of confined space entry equipment consisting of a harness, fall arrestor with retrieval attached at all time and BA equipment with built communication system. We use BA equipment with communications as this system allows the entrant, hole-watching safety attendant and the BA trailer operator to have an open communication platform with each other at all times.”

Representative|Acumen Waste Services