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Co-op’s Million-Dollar Impact on One Company

Four times a year at Marathon Petroleum Company’s Catlettsburg, Ky., refinery, cooperative-education students present details about their contributions to senior management.  Below is a recent rundown of student accomplishments, some of them adding up to the million-dollar mark.

Date: 9/6/2005 12:00:00 AM
By: Mary Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Provided by Marathon Ashland Petroleum

UC ingot  

Keeping money from being vaporized
University of Cincinnati
engineering student Andy Eding, currently on a six-month co-op with Marathon, worked this summer to redesign a vent line from a solvent drum so that vapor containing valuable hydrocarbons (burned off during the refinery process) could be recovered.  The project has already been implemented, and the recovered propane and butane is now being used as an additional saleable product. 
Cost of project implementation: $220,000
Estimated savings realized by company: $1,300,000 per year

Andy Eding inspects a heater.

Plugging steam (and money) leaks
In another project this summer, UC’s Andy Eding led a refinery-wide steam-leak audit and repair project where he had responsibility for the program and worked directly with the refinery-production supervisors to achieve results.  Subsequent audits documented improvements in two areas of the refinery.
Estimated savings: $1,200,000 per year

Cleaning up
University of Cincinnati
engineering student Tim McKnight, currently on co-op with Marathon, also worked there in the fall of 2004.  On one project, he estimated the fouling factors in two key heat exchangers and estimated their maintenance-cleaning needs and the cost factors involved.  His proposals were implemented.
Cost of cleaning the exchangers: $12,300
Savings realized by company: $95,000 over a two-month operating cycle

NOT paying the piper
West Virginia University student Josh Santrock worked on a project in early 2005  to analyze energy loss along nearly 2,000 feet of pipeline used to carry reduced (partially refined) crude.  Santrock identified areas of heat loss, insulation needs and the economic cost/benefit of pipe insulation.  His proposals were implemented.
Cost of project implementation: $37,000
Estimated savings realized by company: $126,000 per year

Steaming ahead with energy efficiency
Michigan Technological University student Roberta Larsen investigated a proposed steam-heat recovery project that would provide greater energy efficiency in a steam-utility system that is used in the process of refining crude oil.  She performed the process and cost analysis in summer 2005, and the project has been approved based on her recommendation.
Cost of project implementation: $26,400
Estimated savings realized by company: $110,000 per year

Environmental education

Mississippi State University student James Kyzar worked at Marathon’s Savage Branch Wildlife Reserve, owned and operated by Marathon’s Catlettsburg Refinery, in the fall of 2004.  He implemented environmental-education projects with local elementary schoolchildren.  Activities included life cycles of native animals, pH experiments, pond-species identification and microscope viewing of pond organisms.

Operations inspections

Co-op students from the University of Wisconsin and the University of Kentucky have also been at work recently with Marathon, performing mechanical design and inspection projects to improve operations.  These students worked side-by-side with chemical engineers to verify the proper installation of internal parts to distillation towers and other equipment during a major maintenance shutdown.



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