While you might not give much thought to how oil and gas reaches your local fueling station unless prices begin to rise, the steps involved may surprise you. From drilling for crude oil to refining it for a number of uses, including the gasoline you pump into your vehicle’s fuel tank, much goes into this process. There are also a number of important factors involved in oil and gas processing; however, from the search for fossil fuel sources to the refinement of such products to measuring consistent flow rates at oil refineries and other fuel facilities, gas flow measurement is a key component of the manufacturing process.
Mineral oil has been the chief raw material for fuel additives like isooctane, but new processes will produce gasoline additives from biological sources. For the first time additives to reduce premature ignition in engines will be produce from purely renewable resources.
These biobased additives will use a biobased isobutene as a starting material in a new process, sourced originally from sugar. Usually isooctane is produced from isobutene, but because the starting resource is biobased the new process will account for small differences in the properties of both chemicals. The production teams are intimately aware of the challenge of contamination from the raw materials and will approach the entire process with overall cost effectiveness in mind.
Click here for the full article by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.
Engineers from the University of Pittsburgh have used a Dynamic Transmission Electron Microscope to view the phase changes in aluminum alloys. The scale at which the observations are made can pin-point atoms as the materials go from solid to liquid and liquid to gas under different environmental situations. Data garnered by the engineering team will help better model the properties of these alloys for manufacturers and engineered material designers.
Prior to the advent of the DTEM, we could only simulate these transformations on a computer. We hope to discover the mechanisms of how alloy microstructures evolve during solidification after laser melting by direct and locally resolved observation.
Microsoft and General Electric are partnering to improve the online cloud industry with the industrial internet of things in mind. GE’s focus on the industrial and manufacturing sectors will synergize with the technological innovation from Microsoft to provide cloud resource servers and analytics on demand for the burgeoning industry of smart connected devices.
“Companies worldwide will be able to bridge the divide between the operational and information technologies that make up the Industrial Internet of Things,” -Microsoft
This collaboration is set to bring analytics from equipment to a wide variety of operations, with even more reliability for future adopters. GE’s cloud platform Predix will be integrated into Microsoft’s Azure for a final service of; Predix of Azure.
Technology has advanced beyond physical buttons, switches, and indicator lamps, but these components are still widely used in manufacturing and processing facilities. Even though main control interfaces could be graphic interfaces with touch panels, the physical abuse it receives may easily overwhelm the hardiness of the device. In situations where heavy machinery is utilized or bulky safety gear is worn, a large start-stop button and flashing red light are more effective for operators.
There are standard ratings for the degree of protection, or ruggedness, of equipment components; NEMA or IEC (IP) ratings. Both rate how much physical and environmental abuse a component can withstand, but differ among each other over the exact scaling of the ratings. Something as trivial as a button may be rated quite highly on either scale simply for being designed with repeated pressing in mind, “A case in point is the repeated pressing of a door close button on an elevator when someone is in a hurry.”
Stack lights and indicators are used to give an operator a quick snapshot of the state of a machine. Green lights most often signal everything is in order; red typically indicates some type of problem. NFPA 79 lists some recommended colors for different situations.
Click here for the full article on Control Design.
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The commodity market is ever-changing and in business predictions are key to securing profitability. When the cost of raw materials fluctuates manufacturing can quickly eat into profit margins and smaller companies can quickly turn south. There are some basic tips to building a safety net against the fluctuations in the commodity market.
Planning for eventual ups and downs is the best step you can take to dealing with commodities. By adding in a sliding scale for prices into your contracts, the changing costs of raw materials can be accounted for up to a predictable swing. If this method is taken, communicate with your clients that the prices are tied to the commodities used in your manufacturing. Stress that prices could go down just as much as go up to assuage any feelings of unfairness.
Another method to prepare for price changes is to build in prices of commodities higher than the predicted price. If you find that the market has shifted downwards you can offer a “discount,” yet if an increase occurs there is no change.
Click here for the full article by Tommy Wyher from Business.com.
Oil and gas companies as an industry are placing higher priorities on waste water management for operational and economic challenges. This trend is in response to the current 2.5 billion barrels of waste water produced yearly by American O&G operations.
Current procedures for oil and gas refining call for a water to oil ratio of 8:1, showing the massive quantities of water required for daily operations. To reduce this vast usage certain engineering feats will have to succeed in improving efficiency or broadening the optimum ranges for processing. One refinery was faced with an exponentially growing cost if a conventional reverse osmosis filtering system was to be placed within the plant. To solve this problem without raising the budget, a 750-gpm unit was installed in a three-tiered skid arrangement and placed in a non-hazardous area of the plant. This resolution saved the refinery from erecting another building for its water management, and kept all extra processing equipment nearby.
In certain locations and climates, severe droughts are raising doubts about heavy water using industrial plants. High water prices are causing increased costs for operations and drawing needed water away from residents in neighboring counties. New legislation in California has required O&G operators to submit monthly water usage statements to the government to be approved before operation occurs. Being able to reduce the necessary water for cooling, dilution, and transport of these products would improve the chance of continued operations.
Data is exploding around the world in every industry, and manufacturing is running into a logistics problem. With the increase in data points and measurements, how can we use it to efficiently organize and improve performance of our processes?
The entire industry of manufacturing makes up a significant portion of global energy consumption, but on a per unit basis that has been decreasing continuously. Manufacturers are using data to work smarter and reduce their use of energy. The best use of data analysis for improving energy efficiency is determining untimely consumption and excess usage. It can also prioritize specific retrofits for machinery that consume more energy per unit than newer models.
By garnering data as granular as machine specific measurements a production manager can see troublesome machinery in detail, and plant managers can coordinate repairs or replacements before production is halted from breakdowns. In certain energy production situations catastrophe can be avoided before start-up by knowing the precise condition of pipelines and machinery.
Click here for the full article by Bill Kenworthy.
For years we have been preserving food through the application of extreme heat. Pasteurization has been the staple in protecting consumers by killing any harmful bacteria by heating a food item to a high enough temperature for a long enough duration. The exact temperature and duration are dependent on the pathogen the food is being treated against. A new method uses high pressure to achieve the same goal.
High Pressure Processing, HPP, sounds frightening in terms of food but in fact is less detrimental to nutritional characteristics than the common method. In common pasteurization temperatures used are so brutal that often vitamins and useful proteins breakdown, in the end the food is safe for consumption but at a degraded nutritional value. In HPP vitamins and proteins are not destroyed, but bacteria within the food item are ruptured.
Pressures used can reach 87,000 psi delivered via a pressurized water bath within a pressure chamber, and some even use moderate heat to further prevent spoilage in certain products.
HPP promises the same level of food safety that heat pasteurization does, but without damaging the nutrients in fruits and vegetables. According to Dr. Barrett, several studies have found that vitamin C is relatively unaffected by the process for instance.
Rotating process machinery depends on bearings, either rolling element bearings or fluid film bearings. These parts counteract gravity to keep the shafts moving as freely as possible without wear or excessive maintenance. The characteristics of each type of bearing leads to the maintenance, life span, and type of load possible for the application.
Babbitt is a widespread material for bearings. It allows for smooth start-up and shut-down while offering conform-ability and embed-ability reducing damage to the spinning shaft. Babbitt bearings must be limited to a maximum temperature of 130°C or warping may lead to misalignment. Bronze can be a substitute for Babbitt bearings for higher temperature applications but can be damaged more easily by contaminants.
Fluid film bearings depend heavily upon their design, and application specific designs can be highly specific. An operating pressure must be developed in the fluid to counteract gravity. Bearing clearance, the difference between the bearing bore and shaft diameter, greatly affects dynamic performance from temperature changes and power loss. Even the manner in which lubrication is introduced into the bearing can drastically change the performance. A flooded bearing will have higher power losses and operating temperatures than a directed lubrication bearings.
Click here for the full article from Processing Magazine.