Infrared sensors have difficulties measuring refractive information and chemical attributes of certain compounds, and a new method from researchers at the University of Houston seeks to improve the results by adding nanoparticles to near infrared sensing. Improvements here would impact the oil and fuel industries in regards to drilling analysis.
The team has created a process by which near infrared light is reflected off nanoporous gold disks with plasmonic hotspots for localized electric field enhancement. By mixing these gold disks into the compound, a beam of near infrared light, 1-2.5 μm wavelength, encourages different reactions at specific wavelengths. This process combines the advantages of both infrared and near infrared sensing techniques. It requires a smaller sample size to obtain the same measurements and therefore will save on costs and resources for analysis of new oil well drill sites.
Clock here for the full article on Chemical Processing.
Published in the journal Science researchers have created a new membrane that separates closely related molecules and is far sturdier than others. This newly designed material is bound to lead to lowered chemical processing costs and use in other applications of separation.
Separating chemicals has been estimated to consume around 10 percent of the world’s energy production. In creating fresh water up to 60 percent of the energy cost is used to separate substances from the pure water. This particular membrane is the culmination research starting in the 1990’s and is focused on separating xylenes, an organic compound family, from each other.
The main problem with separating these compounds is that each has very similar properties, in fact the mass and boiling points of each are exactly the same throughout the family. Even in physical size, “They differ in size by a tenth of a nanometer.” To further complicate the matter, researchers were looking for a process that is feasible at room temperature to further reduce the energy costs.
The final membrane begins with a commercial polymer that is spun into hollow fibers, linked together into mats, and then heated until only a carbon fiber membrane remains. From tests the researchers have found the membrane uses 10 – 20 times less energy than common methods of separating xylenes.
PID control stands for proportional, integral, and derivative control. This type of process management is used to maintain set parameters, and works well for temperature or motion. All three portions of this control setup manage whatever parameter you desire in different manners.
Proportional control controls how far the measured parameter is from the set parameter. In terms of temperature it will tell you how far off from ideal the process is running; i.e. +1.85 °F or -.07°F. Managing the process with proportional controls alone will work, but the systems will swing between over- and under- correcting.
Integral controls are added onto proportional controls to factor in timing into the setup. By measuring the time between measurements of the parameter the system can determine the speed at which the motion or temperature are changing; i.e. -.1 °F/second. By knowing this measurement the system can then account for this with more precision, cutting down the amount of over-correcting. Still this combination will need one final layer to appropriately maintain the parameter dynamically.
Derivative control measures the acceleration of the parameter, in effect the speed at which the speed is changing. With this level of control, the parameter changes can be dampened and returned to the set point reliably. In terms of motion parameters, with a properly installed PID control system a ball bearing can be kept from rolling off a glass plate even when pushed by people.
Click here for the full article and tuning tips by Mark Bacidore.
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.
Engineered bacteria is beginning to streamline biofuel productions. The bacteria being used is a strain of E. coli that has been adapted to withstand liquid salt solutions used for breaking down plant matter into sugars. As these cells adapt better to this type of environment, biofuel processing will no longer need to remove the liquid salts from the mixture before introducing the bacteria, the process would be a “one pot method.”
Yields are currently significantly lower as the tests are using less pure sugar than other processes. Further refining of the E. coli strain will hopefully boost the returns seen from this vastly easier method.
Currently, we have only engineered the strain to digest cellulose so it can use the resulting glucose to grow and make the biofuel,” explains Mukhopadhyay. “We can also engineer it to digest hemicellulose, another large component of plant biomass so that it can use the resulting xylose for growth and production also!”
Click here for the full article by ChemicalProcessing.
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.
For versatility and power, nothing beats the gas-fueled internal combustion engine. It can output enough power for those demanding tasks, be reliable for long hours and years of service, or mobile for sporadic fringe uses. Over the years gas engines have been improved through copious research and careful adaptations in compression ratings and fuel economics.
Many processing facilities utilize gas engines in medium- to large-scale mechanical drivers. These engines can power compressors, pumps, generators, and other equipment. As engine technology improves to provide more power with less fuel usage, processing plants utilize smaller engines and more processing room. Large engines are usually operated at under 1,000 rpm to preserve life while generating enough power to operate the machinery. Running at lower speeds requires significantly larger engines, reducing plant floor space, while faster speeds increase wear and tear damage to the engines.
From the installation near Monaca, Pa liquefied natural gas will be exported to consumers, and industry leaders expect growth in liquefied natural gas demand to remain. Ethane crackers utilize high heat, catalysts, and solvents to break the molecules of larger ethane into ethylene.
As supply of crude oil deposits dwindle, more energy producers are focusing on liquid natural gas for itsportability. Once cooled below its vapor point, natural gas compresses 600 times which makes it easier to transport and ship to other regions including international destinations.
Recently, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected domestic ethane production to grow from 1.1 million barrels per day in 2015 to 1.4 million barrels each day in 2017, an increase of 300,000 barrels daily.
It is estimated that the oceans hold 4 billion tons of uranium. This amount of uranium would be enough to power the world’s major cities for thousands of years, the trouble is getting it out of the water. Scientists have shown progress on using a material that binds to uranium dioxide in seawater and can later be treated to remove the uranium. This process would entail dragging braided polyethylene fibers coated with amidoxime through the oceans.
The process is still inefficient and expensive, but finding alternatives to uranium ore mining is a necessary step in planning for the future of nuclear energy.
Uranium is only found in seawater at a concentration of 3.3 micrograms per liter, that converts to 1 particle of Uranium to every 3,000,000,000,000,000 particles of the remainder of seawater. The material is inefficient in that only 6 grams of Uranium is adsorbed for every kilogram of the material, or an efficiency of .6% after 8 weeks of collection.
If constant extraction via this method were to be enacted a fleet would need roughly 693,000 kilograms of the material being dragged at all times, just to fuel a single Gigawatt nuclear power plant for the same duration.
Click here for the full article by Jennifer Hackett.