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And the Top 10 Highest-Dollar U.S. Project Starts in 2013 are…

jib craneThe 10 highest-value project starts from January through July 2013 span a diverse range of industrial sectors. With the exception of one project in Texas, these construction starts are concentrated in the Rocky Mountains, West Coast and Southeast market regions.

The Future of Nuclear: Small Scale Nuclear Reactors?

nuclear plant in handThe first nuclear power plant in the world was in Russia. The 5 MWe single reactor unit at AM-1 ("Атом Мирный", Russian for Atom Mirny, or "peaceful atom"), began operation in 1954 and remained active until April 29, 2002.

Since those humble beginnings, the size of reactor units has grown to more than 1600 MWe, bringing with the increase in size corresponding increases in cost to build and concerns about safety, particularly after the disasters in Chernobyl and most recently at Fukushima. This has led to many countries rejecting nuclear outright, although efforts to replace that amount of energy with low carbon, eco-friendly sources have not been particularly successful.

Valve engineering advances make ocean power feasible

otec spar squareA rarely publicized but promising renewable energy technology that is creating interesting challenges for valve and actuator engineers is ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC). One of the leaders in the field is OTEC International LLC (OTI) and Barry R. Cole is the company’s Executive Vice President and Director of Technology Development. A veteran of the valve industry, Cole is actively involved in the development, planning and implementation of the intricate system that makes it possible to harness this energy source.

New Technology for the New Nuclear

construction_at_vogtle_nuclear_plant

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved the construction of four new nuclear reactors in the U.S., the first since 1978.

On February 9, Southern Co. won approval and an NRC construction permit to build two reactors at its Vogtle plant near Augusta, Georgia. The first unit is expected to be in service by 2016, and the second a year later.  Then, on March 30, Scana won approval to build two units at its Virgil C. Summer plant in South Carolina.

Pipelines: Striving for Reliability

pipelineDespite a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) from the State Dept. in August 2011 that said the Keystone XL Pipeline will have "no material impact on the environmental resources along the route,” activists continue to oppose the pipeline. At the same time, first nation groups are fighting Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would stretch from Alberta to the British Columbia coast to transport oil-sands oil to Asian markets.

Carbon Capture and Storage at the Oil Sands

shellscotfordShell Canada is developing the Shell Quest CCS Project to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their existing oil sands bitumen upgrader, the Scotford Upgrader, located near Edmonton, Alberta. The plan is to store the Quest CO2 in an underground saline formation where it will be permanently stored. While Quest does have the capability to use the CO2 for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) under the right commercial and market conditions, the primary driver for this project is saline aquifer injection to reduce CO2 emissions affecting climate change.

Understanding that this type of project would provide ample opportunities and challenges for valve, actuator and control manufacturers, we asked Len Heckel of Shell to explain some of the technology in this fully integrated project which will capture, transport, inject and store carbon dioxide.

The Crumbling Water Infrastructure: Challenge or Opportunity for Valve Manufacturers?

water valvewebThe recession that began in 2008 had multiple ramifications for municipalities, many seeing enormous deficits that resulted in “fire sales” of many public assets including roads and water systems. While the short term solution of selling assets puts money into the public coffers, the sale of water systems to private entities focused on profits raises, for many, the specter of rate increases and less concern for sustainability and environmental issues.

Technology the Key to Profitability in the Oil Sands

covershotThe Valve Manufacturers Association held its annual Technical Seminar & Exhibits at the Hilton NASA Clear Lake in Houston, March 8-9. More than a dozen speakers presented on a variety of topics that centered on “Prevailing Challenges and Solutions for the Oil & Gas/Petrochemical Industries.”

Gobind Khiani, AIMs specialist (valves), Cenovus Energy, was among the presenters at the VMA Technical Seminar, and he spoke about oil processing and production valve requirements for steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) in the Alberta oil sands.

Multi-Stage Flash for Water that’s Fresh

msfplantWhile fresh drinking water is becoming scarce, the need for desalination is growing. With it comes challenges for valve manufacturers, so, coming up in the Spring edition of Valve Magazine is a comprehensive article covering the consideration of valves in the seawater reverse osmosis process. Here in this Web Feature, is an appetizer covering the Multi-Stage flash process.

Of the major desalination processes available, Multi-Stage Flash (MSF) is the most widely used, producing about 60% of the world’s desalinated water.

Geothermal: A Bottomless Pit of Power?

geothermalplantpipescroppedAs economic, environmental and geopolitical conditions have become increasingly volatile, sustainable and dependable sources of electricity have taken on new importance. Wind and solar are often cited as alternatives, but geothermal, which is one of the cleanest sources of energy, is not mentioned quite as often even though as a generating source it has been around since 1904 when Prince Piero Ginori Conti successfully lit four bulbs in Italy.

Concentrated Solar Power Generation

solartroughsAs Germany shuts out nuclear, Japan deals with the backlash over Fukushima and North American governments institute environmental regulations that make coal-fired power generation more expensive, the appeal of exploiting natural alternative energy sources becomes even greater.

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