May 16, 2020

The upside of BLOWDOWN

plant safety
5 min
The upside of BLOWDOWN
Effective plant safety designs and operations

Greater accuracy saves time and money. Achieving greater safety saves lives. When engineers equip themsel...

Effective plant safety designs and operations

Greater accuracy saves time and money. Achieving greater safety saves lives. When engineers equip themselves with the right tools that elevate their safety expertise, they can conduct rigorous and rapid depressurisation studies quickly, cost effectively and safely. With cutting-edge blowdown software, detailed analysis and protection of key process equipment can be performed more effectively.

Economically optimised designs are increasingly important to engineering projects today. When it comes to depressurisation systems, piping costs typically consume a significant portion of project expenses, making it imperative to design systems that ensure safety and also minimise unnecessary costs associated with this piping. Piping costs can increase during depressurisation analysis when low temperature regions result, ultimately requiring more expensive materials of construction in these regions. Assessing the specific regions where low temperatures form, and subsequently the adequacy of materials, can be difficult and vague with traditional methods. However, with the right tools, performing the most accurate minimum design metal temperature (MDMT) analysis saves costs while ensuring materials of construction used in the system will not fracture. Determining the certainty of values is imperative to avoid unnecessary expenses and preclude the risk of over-conservative specifications. For a comprehensive end-to-end depressurisation solution, robust blowdown simulation software provides oil and gas companies with the best tools available to help every process engineering project, ranging from new build facilities to a revamp project on an existing process and design or rate blowdown systems that ultimately ensure proper safety.

Managing pressure

For engineers, there are important considerations for determining a safe system, including accurate orifice sizing, metallurgy selection and the ability to integrate with the flare system. A side-effect of depressurisation is the drastic temperature reduction in plant equipment and associated piping. This temperature effect must be determined accurately to identify suitable materials of construction. An example of increasing safety is the gas pressure inside a vessel, which needs to be reduced to minimise damage or a fire. 

Making the best engineering decisions requires the ability to accurately predict the minimum metal temperature of equipment and orifice size required in a system. Factors involving the modelling of temperatures, pressures and maximum flow rates during the blowdown process will reduce overdesigns associated with the blowdown system and save enormous engineering costs. Accurately depressuring the system minimises the risk of harm to the process equipment, product and personnel. 

Therefore, effective safety analysis is vital to process design and with powerful simulations tools it is possible to create concurrent designs with simulation, which minimises reworks enabling engineers to reuse and refine safety analysis at each stage of the design lifecycle. By reducing conservative assumptions, the engineer will also reduce capital expenditure. In addition, they have complete control to push assets to the limit to maximise throughput, troubleshoot efficiently with confidence and more accuracy whilst conducting safety analysis. Essentially, engineers can now evaluate systems, safer and faster much easier within ONE engineering environment.

Safety standards

Blowdown is a critical rapid response system. It is crucial to ensure that this analysis determines not only safe materials of construction, but also provides the correct orifice sizes that depressure systems in accordance with leading industry standards, such as API and NORSOCK for fire cases. This action reduces the incidents that cause irrevocable damage. Using a flare system analyser as a part of your blowdown analysis is also essential to ensuring your entire depressurisation analysis is safe from the blowdown system through the discharge of the flare header.

Better safety decisions deliver better outcomes. Being able to rapidly evaluate the safest and most profitable designs adds value and ensures improved engineering productivity, investment costs and increases overall engineering efficiency. With the world’s most powerful and comprehensive process modelling tool, oil and gas projects are made less complex whilst enabling engineers to save time and ensure process models optimise conceptual design and plant operations.

Simulation with enhanced safety functionality delivers enormous benefits to companies in the process industries. A high fidelity thermodynamic design model means that engineers can be confident that their calculations are robust and fully predictive.

BLOWDOWN is the industry leading technology developed and validated Dr Graham Saville and Professor Stephen Richardson of Imperial College and incorporated into Aspen HYSYS, which is part of AspenTech’s aspenONE Engineering suite. The robust software powered by the BLOWDOWN technology enables engineers to determine orifice sizes and pinpoint areas of low temperature concerns, providing less conservative MDMT values. In some cases, this can lead to cost savings resulting from less expensive materials. BLOWDOWN technology has been used in over 400 projects in oil and gas and chemical companies to model depressurisation. The software identifies specific locations in a system where temperatures can decline dramatically during depressurisation. With these enhanced safety features, engineers can best serve workflows and safety projects easily, as well as perform accurate safety analysis and leverage data from powerful simulators – all within ONE integrated engineering simulation environment.

The upside of accuracy

Improving safety through accurate modelling of depressurisation systems is a critical activity in the design and operation of every process plant. The detailed analysis capability for orifice sizing and determination of appropriate materials of construction helps significantly when evaluating capital costs and ensuring safety. Today, oil and gas companies are standardising on engineering software with robust blowdown functionality that provides the ability to simulate depressurising vessels and other equipment up to the flare tips. The upside is that engineers can take depressurisation analysis to another level in accuracy and leverage blowdown simulation software to minimise overdesign and project CAPEX both in design and revalidation.

Katherine Hird is Product Marketing Specialist at AspenTech


Follow @ManufacturingGL and @NellWalkerMG

Share article

May 12, 2021

Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing

2 min
Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing

Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing


What is Ultium Cells LLC?

Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”

Who is Li-Cycle?

Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.

As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”

Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?

By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.

“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).

"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.

"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.

Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.

"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5

Share article