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Basics of Elastomeric Seal Design

Basics of Elastomeric Seal Design

Engineers need critical design informati...

Wastewater Treatment

Wastewater Treatment

Society’s desire for a clean envir...

Controlling Our Water Systems, Part II

Controlling Our Water Systems, Part II

To better understand the actuators and c...

Controlling Our Water Systems

Controlling Our Water Systems

Actuators and controls are a critical pr...

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Industry Headlines

Pentair Reports Second Quarter 2016 Results

Thursday, 28 July 2016  |  Chris Guy

Pentair plc announced second quarter 2016 sales of $1.7B. Sales were up 4% compared to sales for the same period last year. Excluding the unfavorable ...

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Industry Headlines

Pentair Reports Second Quarter 2016 Results

2 HOURS AGO

Pentair plc announced second quarter 2016 sales of $1.7B. Sales were up 4% compared to sales for the same period last year. Excluding the unfavorable impact of currency translation and the positive contribution from acquisitions, core sales declined 3% in the second quarter . Second quarter 2016 earni...

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ValvTechnologies Names Bryant Holt Industry Director, Fossil Power

1 DAY AGO
ValvTechnologies Names Bryant Holt Industry Director, Fossil Power

ValvTechnologies, Inc. has appointed Bryant Holt as industry director for the company’s fossil power division. Holt will succeed George Stover, who has served in this role since 2014.

Based in Houston, Holt will have global management responsibility for ValvTechnologies’ fossil power group ...

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ExxonMobil Expanding Beaumont, TX Facility

6 HOURS AGO

ExxonMobil has plans to increase production of ultra-low sulfur fuels at its Beaumont, TX refinery by approximately 40,000 barrels per day, representing an investment of approximately $450 million.

Construction is scheduled during the second half of 2016 to install a selective cat naphtha hydrofining u...

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LNG’s Surge from Decade-Low Seen Fizzling as Supply Ramps Up

1 DAY AGO

“LNG’s surge is running out of gas. Liquefied natural gas in Asia, which was in such over-supply that prices in Japan fell to a decade-low in April, has risen by almost half in the past three months as production outages stifled supply, demand rose in places like China and India and a co...

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U.S. Durable Goods Orders Down 4% in June

1 DAY AGO

New orders for manufactured durable goods in June decreased $9.3 billion or 4.0% to $219.8 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced. This decrease , down two consecutive months, followed a 2.8% May decrease. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 0.5%. Excluding defense, new orders d...

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Sharpest Rise in U.S. Manufacturing Production Since November

3 DAYS AGO

July data signaled a further rebound in business conditions across the U.S. manufacturing sector, led by a robust expansion of incoming new work and the fastest upturn in production volumes for eight months. Job creation also strengthened in July, with the latest increase in payroll numbers the fast...

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Solar-powered Valve Actuation: An Update

vmspr12_solar_actuators

The use of solar power in industrial and municipal valve actuator applications goes back several decades; however, technological advances in solar power efficiency and storage mean that today, it has become a practical, dependable alternative for many isolated locations.

In the early days, solar power was used in noncritical applications that required low power consumption, primarily to supply monitoring of valve-related and process data at remote locations. As solar power technology evolved, applications expanded along with the sophistication of the technology.

Today, the most extensive use of solar power in valve actuator applications is found in remote parts of the world that have vast stretches of jungle, desert or mountainous terrain—environments without reliable utility power. For example, South and Latin American oil-producing nations pioneered extensive use of solar and telemetry mostly for use on critical oil and gas pipelines.

In the U.S., fewer off-grid applications present themselves; however, recently some energy pipelines and governmental water agencies have come to rely on solar even for critical applications. The decision to go with solar in these cases is usually based on the comparative costs of bringing the grid to the job site or keeping the site off the grid. Furthermore, the current boom in unconventional extraction methods for oil and natural gas is driving more interest in solar power for valve-actuator applications.


ENERGY CONSUMPTION

A key factor of whether or not to consider solar power for an application relates to available energy and consumption. Two examples would be a 36-inch valve or gate operating at 1,000 psi on a crude oil pipeline and a 96-inch sluice gate in 25 feet of head water at a remote dam site. The two would require about the same force and amount of energy to operate. In both these cases, users would find bringing utility power to the sites cost prohibitive, which triggers the process to consider solar power.

In these scenarios, the pipeline company needs to be able to close the valve in an emergency in response to environmental and safety concerns. The water utility needs to maintain an appropriate level in its reservoir through the winter, which means changing the outlet gate position as the lake level rises or falls. Both applications need to sense process conditions, transmit information, move a load and do it all off grid. Solar power can be more cost effective in such cases and requires less maintenance than gas or diesel generation systems if the loads can be managed.


vmspr12_andes_solar_actuatorHigh in the Andes Mountains between Argentina and Chile, 14 valve sites are connected by fiber optic cable to the pipeline command center. Solar panels provide power for the station during the summer months and a turbine wind generator takes over during the winter. A control building houses the communication equipment and the hydraulic power unit (lower right). The 16-inch pipeline is buried, but the hydraulic actuator mounted on the valve extension can be seen above grade (lower left).POWER SUPPLY

One of the ways technology has improved in the solar industry is that, in the last 10 years, panels have become much more efficient and reliable. A case in point is an energy company in Wyoming that had a solar panel riddled with bullet holes. In earlier times, that panel would not have functioned. Yet, in this case, they did not need to replace the panel until a significant portion of its surface area was damaged because of the latest generation of solar panels, which employs self-healing technology.

Today, battery racks can be as simple as a pair of marine-grade gel cells wired to deliver 24 volts direct current (VDC), or racks of batteries wired to deliver 48, 96 or 110 VDC. A typical electric motor operator would reach the limits of battery storage and energy transfer capacity very quickly. But if speed is not an issue, then trading horsepower for gear reduction would allow some very large valves and gates to be operated this way.

Most importantly today, however, is that users don’t have to be in the sun-belt to make solar work. Canada has many successful remote solar sites.


HIGH SPEED AND FORCE, CRITICAL CONTROL

High speed, high force and critical control, which are all necessary requirements for dependable valve actuator operation, can be accomplished with an appropriate hydraulic operating system. By combining solar electric battery storage with hydraulic accumulator storage, very high operating forces and flexible speed control are possible. Full pipeline and station diagnostics are available as well.

Only a few years ago, communication options in remote areas were very limited. Satellite receivers were expensive and required a license; cellular towers had not yet spanned the country; and data capacity was limited. Radio systems were complicated and required intensive maintenance. Today, however, wireless technology covers even the most remote parts of the country, and most new pipelines are built with fiber-optics for supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) along their full length. This allows the same level of data acquisition and control at remote sites as in a plant connected to the grid, including both power and control redundancies for critical operations.

In addition, significant improvements in energy efficiency of instrumentation have been made, so continuous load on the battery system is minimized.

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