The Monitor

Production Process Insights

Protect your high-cost hydrocarbon analyzers from thermal excursions

Posted by Kevin Kirst on 4/12/16 11:04 AM
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Often, solving a problem requires looking at it in a new way. In engineering, that can mean taking a proven solution and customizing it or employing it in a new application.

An OEM analyzer integrator that partners with our company was successful in winning a contract to supply a vapor pressure analyzer system for a major integrated liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in the Middle East. The LNG plant is part of a large complex that includes a marine terminal and power and water facilities.

The LNG plant provides liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) products for export markets, and employs world-class technologies in its facility.

Vapor pressure analyzer challenge

As part of those technologies, the vapor pressure analyzer system is a key instrument for monitoring the constituents of the natural gas condensate stream. The data provided by the instrument is used to optimize operations of both upstream and downstream processes as well as custody transfer data. 

Due to the design of the refinery processes, the potential exists for a thermal excursion – or a significant temperature differentiation related to environmental factors – in the condensate stream. Such an excursion could negatively impact the data the instrument reports and cause damage to the instrument system itself. 

Normally, providing protection against thermal excursions in a process stream involves mature technologies that usually need an electrical power source. However, in an LPG refinery or petrochemical application, any electrically powered system most likely needs to meet an area classification level, which requires high-cost designs and components. This raises the installation and operating costs as well as the complexity of running the analysis system.

Mechanical thermal excursion protection solution

For many years, power plants around the world have relied upon a technologically proven, mechanically operated device for thermal excursion protection. This instrument, the patented Sentry® TSV thermal shutoff valve, has been responsible for protecting the safety of operators and preventing damage to expensive analyzers due to temperature fluctuations in high-temperature liquids. However, the specifications of the product have been oriented towards the monitoring requirements of steam and water sampling and analysis in power generation plants rather than in refineries and petrochemical facilities. 

Our insightful sampling experts realized that, with a small component change, the thermal shutoff valve could be used to provide thermal excursion protection in hydrocarbon applications as well. As the valve is a mechanical solution, the costs and complexity of meeting the requirements of the area classification level are not required. This solution is suitable for system pressures up to 4400 psi (303 bar), and its completely mechanical design requires no electricity, air or hydraulics to operate.

The analyzer integrator now is able to protect his client’s vapor pressure analyzer system. This solution reduced the project cost and complexity, providing safe and effective thermal excursion protection. The end user is anticipated to experience easier operation and lower maintenance costs with the use of this proven technology in a new application.


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Topics: Downstream, Upstream & Midstream

Written by Kevin Kirst

As industry manager for the refinery market, Kevin employs his 25-plus years of experience in engineering, application support and sales to develop new ways to sample, monitor and measure customers’ processes, with a primary focus on the crude oil refining industry. Like all our company employee-owners, Kevin is committed to developing technologies and equipment that allow customers to operate their processes at optimal efficiency while maintaining high levels of safety and product quality.

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