Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Guide to Instrumentation for Ethanol Fuel Production

ethanol plant
Ethanol plant
Ethanol, the common name for ethyl alcohol, is fuel grade alcohol that is produced through the fermentation of simple carbohydrates by yeasts. Fueled by growing environmental, economic, and national security concerns, U.S. ethanol production capacity has nearly doubled in the past six years, and the Renewable Fuel Association (RFA) projects another doubling of the industry by 2012. Ethanol can be made from renewable feedstock’s such as grain sorghum, wheat, barley, potatoes, and sugar cane. In the United States, the majority of the ethanol is produced from corn.

The two main processes to produce ethanol from corn are wet milling and dry milling.
Foxboro transmitter
Foxboro transmitter


Wet milling is more versatile as it produces a greater variety of products, including starch, corn syrup, and sucralose (such as Splenda®). However, with this versatility come higher costs in mill design, building, and operation. If ethanol is the primary product produced, dry mills offer the advantages of lower construction and operations costs, with improved production efficiency. Of the more than 70 U.S. ethanol plants currently being built, only a few are wet mills.

The efficiency of ethanol production has come a long way during the last 20 years. As more large-scale facilities come on line, ethanol producers are faced with the growing challenge of finding innovative ways to maintain profitability while this market matures. An increasingly accepted solution is process automation to assist ethanol producers in controlling product quality, output, and costs. Because sensing and analytical instrumentation represents what is essentially the eyes and ears of any automation system, careful evaluation of instrumentation, at the design phase can reduce both equipment and operating costs significantly, while improving overall manufacturing effectiveness.

The following document, courtesy of Foxboro, provides a good overview of instrumentation and the production of ethanol.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Limitorque Blue Ribbon Service by Mead O'Brien

Limitorque factory trained technicians, support and parts.  It's only factory authorized when the work is done by a Blue Ribbon Repair Center.

Your Limitorque actuators were a major investment. Don't take chances with an unknown. Choose only a Flowserve Limitorque Blue Ribbon Distributor to assure you're getting factory authorized service. It's just not worth the risk.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What is this “steam” thing?

Reprinted with permission from InTech Magazine March-April Issue
Author: Steve Huffman VP Marketing & Business Development, Mead O'Brien

This article began as a coy reply to Bill Lydon’s interesting “Talk to Me” column (www.isa.org/intech/201512talk) about Leonardo da Vinci’s accomplishments as an artist applying engineering principles to create engineered works of art. Lydon noted that da Vinci saw science and art as complementary rather than as distinct disciplines. I stated that the word “STEAM,” really STEM + art, was not a new concept. The most recent iteration started sometime within the first decade of the 21st century, gaining traction with the efforts of such influencers as the Rhode Island School of Design beginning in 2010. Lawmakers with whom the Automation Federation met while advocating for our profession on Capitol Hill saw the concept as a way to reach elementary school children who would not otherwise be interested in math, science, and engineering.

My point was why use the word “steam” and create confusion with the engine of the American industrial revolution—and still the most efficient turbine driver and heat transfer media in prominent use to this day? Ironically, I find a declining knowledge base regarding steam systems used in industry, especially in process control, as the baby boomers are now retiring at very high levels. New practitioners, automation or otherwise, who either work on or are charged with engineering or maintaining these utility systems for process are generally not well prepared from a knowledge or educational perspective. This issue really adds to the negative financial impact that poorly designed or poorly maintained steam systems contribute to product quality, throughput, and energy loss.

For the artistic, it seems someone should have realized that the word, with all its thermodynamic glory, was already taken. So is it right to add “art” to the critical-thinking process of STEM and to the engineering curriculum to add another dimension to the student’s education? A number of artists and engineers disagree, but mainly because they only view their “discipline” as a tool that makes the other “discipline” superior. In short, it does go both ways, and purists on both sides probably resent that art and engineering go together. Because we come from the engineering side of the fence, I feel that art probably does broaden the horizons of engineers, but bringing art into engineering certainly does nothing to diminish art in and of itself. As art teaches us, there are many ways to comprehend the same thing.

In my own experience with the brewing industry in St. Louis over the past 40 years, the process mix includes engineering, science, and the application of the art of brewing, which goes back to the ancient Greeks. Modern brewing evolved over the past 150 years with people from those disciplines working together, some even using the “glue” of automation to turn their processes into highly automated, high production, and sophisticated dynamos with dozens of new products released yearly, all of them starting with four basic ingredients.

I project that art in STEM (STEM+A if I were chief acronym maker) is absolutely necessary for automation professionals to better appreciate process and better visualize what the future holds. It is also essential for thinking more abstractly, and in homage to the next big thing, developing a critical eye to analyze, put to practical use, and translate from “production-speak” to meaningful “management-speak” the massive amount of data coming our way with the Industrial Internet of Things revolution of which we are on the cusp. Dealing with disruptive technologies in process and factory automation will require digital skills far in excess of what we can even see on the horizon today. It seems that steam may be creating some buzz, but in the future the real kinetic energy will be created by digital engineers.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Wireless Monitoring Technology Keeps Watchful Eye on Steam Trap Operation

Model ST5700
Model ST5700
The Armstrong Intelligent Monitoring Model ST5700 is a wireless monitoring technology that efficiently monitors and evaluates steam trap operation. It identifies the conditions of a steam trap to determine significant problems that could put your operation at risk and can accurately detect potential issues such as plugged and blow thru steam traps. 

The AIM®ST5700 helps identify the root cause while you minimize production losses and reduce energy consumption. Using non-intrusive technology combined with WirelessHART, the AIM®ST5700 is the ideal solution for any temporary or permanent 24/7 steam trap monitoring.

For more on its operation and use, please read the document below.

For more information, contact:
Mead O'Brien
www.meadobrien.com
(800) 892-2769

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Quick Primer on Hazardous Area Enclosures

explosion proof enclosures
Understanding explosion proof enclosures
In electrical engineering terms, "explosion-proof" or "hazardous" areas are defined as locations where the possibility of fire or explosion exists because of the presence of flammable gasses, liquids, vapors, dusts, or fibers. As a result, electrical equipment must be installed in such a way where any electrical current or signal; a) does not provide enough energy to support an electrical arc (intrinsically safe); or b) is contained in an enclosure and associated conduit that are designed to suppress further ignition by sufficiently cooling escaping gases.

So its important to understand that when describing hazardous area enclosures, "explosion-proof" doesn't mean the enclosure can withstand the forces of an external explosion, but rather that the enclosure is designed to cool any escaping hot gases (caused by an internal spark or arcing contacts) sufficiently enough as to not to allow the ignition of combustible gases or dusts in the surrounding area.

This is a short video that explains what an explosion-proof enclosure looks like, how it works, and why it is safe to use in explosive or combustible atmospheres.

For more information on electrical equipment in hazardous areas visit this page.


Courtesy of Mead O'Brien
(800) 892-2769

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Flowserve Limitorque Actuators: General Safety Precautions and Practices

Limitorque actuator
Limitorque multi-turn actuator.
The following are general guidelines for safely operating Limitorque actuators. This post is intended to supplement Flowserve / Limitorque's ongoing efforts to provide information on the safe and proper use of electric valve actuators on industrial globe, gate, ball, butterfly and plug valves.  It is critically important to always refer to the installation & maintenance manual before applying, installing and servicing Limitorque actuators. If unsure about any of the recommended safety or installation procedures, contact a factory authorized technician before going any further.

More than 1 million Limitorque actuators have been installed around the world, and some have been in operation for more than 50 years. The ruggedness and reliability of Limitorque electric actuators are among the primary reasons that customers continue to select Limitorque products.

Actuators requiring 90° of rotation to operate are necessary for quarter-turn valves such as ball, butterfly, plug and dampers, and rotary control valves. These types of Limitorque electric actuators are available for operations such as open-close, modulating, network and rotary service.

Multi-turn actuators are required to operate various types of rising stem valves such as gate, slide-gates, globe, check and linear control valves. These types of Limitorque electric actuators are available for operations such as open-close, modulating, network and linear service.

General Safety Precautions
  1. Warning: Read the Installation and Maintenance Manual carefully and completely before attempting to install, operate, or troubleshoot the Limitorque actuator.
  2. Warning: Be aware of electrical hazards. Turn off incoming power before working on the actuator and before opening the switch compartment.
  3. Warning: Potential HIGH PRESSURE vessel — be aware of high-pressure hazards associated with the attached valve or other actuated device when installing or performing maintenance on the actuator. Do not remove the actuator mounting bolts from the valve or actuated device unless the valve or device stem is secured or there is no pressure in the line.
  4. Warning: For maintenance and/or disassembly of the actuator while installed on the valve, ensure that the actuator is not under thrust or torque load. If the valve must be left in service, the valve stem must be locked in such a way as to prevent any movement of the valve stem.
  5. Warning: Do not attempt to remove the spring cartridge cap, housing cover, or stem nut locknut from the actuator while the valve or actuated device is under load.
  6. Warning: Do not manually operate the actuator with devices other than the installed handwheel and declutch lever. Using force beyond the ratings of the actuator and/or using additive force devices such as cheater bars, wheel wrenches, pipe wrenches, or other devices on the actuator handwheel or declutch lever may cause serious personal injury and/or damage to the actuator and valve.
  7. Warning: Do not exceed any design limitations or make modifications to this equipment without first consulting Limitorque.
  8. Warning: Actuators equipped with electrical devices (motors, controls) requiring field wiring must be wired and checked for proper operation by a qualified tradesman.
  9. Warning: Use of the product must be suspended any time it fails to operate properly.
  10. Caution: Do not use oversized motor overload heaters. Instead, look for the cause of the overload.
  11. Caution: Do not operate the valve under motor operation without first setting or checking the limit switch setting and motor direction.
  12. Caution: Do not force the declutch lever into the motor operation position. The lever returns to this position automatically when the motor is energized.
  13. Caution: Do not depress the declutch lever during motor operation to stop valve travel.
  14. Caution: Do not use replacement parts that are not genuine Flowserve Limitorque parts, as serious personal injury and/or damage to the actuator and valve may result.
  15. Caution: Do not lift actuator/gearbox or actuator/valve combinations with only the eye bolts in the SMB actuator. These eye bolts are designed for lifting the SMB actuator only.
General Safety Practices

The following check points should be performed to maintain safe operation of the actuator:
  1. Eye bolts in SMB and SB actuators are designed for lifting only the actuator and not associated gearboxes or valves.
  2. Mount the actuator with the motor in a horizontal plane, if possible.
  3. Keep the switch compartment clean and dry.
  4. Keep the valve stem clean and lubricated.
  5. Set up a periodic operating schedule for infrequently used valves.
  6. Verify all actuator wiring is in accordance with the applicable wiring diagram.
  7. Carefully check for correct motor rotation direction. If the valve closes when open button is pushed, the motor leads may have to be reversed.
  8. Verify the stem nut is secured tightly by the locknut and that the top thread of the locknut is crimped or staked in two places.
  9. Use a protective stem cover. Check valve stem travel and clearance before mounting covers on rising stem valves.

Authorized Blue Ribbon Limitorque Parts & Service
Mead O'Brien Authorized
Blue Ribbon Limitorque Parts & Service
For more information, or if you need field support with any Limitorque actuator, parts, or service, contact one of the following Mead O'Brien offices: 


Mead O’Brien, Inc.
10800 Midwest Industrial Blvd
St. Louis, Missouri 63132
(314) 423-5161

Mead O’Brien, Inc.
1429 Atlantic
North Kansas City, MO 64116
(816) 471-3993

Mead O’Brien, Inc.
16 South Main Street
PO Box 1086
Calvert City, Kentucky 42029-1086
(270) 395-7330

Mead O’Brien, Inc.
824 West Elgin
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma 74012
(918) 251-1588

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Better Alternative to Magmeter for Unpolished Condensate Flow Measurement

Veris Accelabar
Veris Accelabar 
A large University was using magnetic flowmeters (Magmeters) to measure the flow of boiler feed water downstream of a condensate polisher. There were occasional system upsets that required the condensate polisher to be bypassed. When this happened, large amounts of debris would be released downstream and pass directly through the Magmeter, causing a build-up of foreign material on the internal sensing surfaces.

A magnetic flowmeter uses an electric current applied to a coil which produces a magnetic field. When conductive liquid flows through the magnetic field, a small voltage, proportional to the liquid velocity, is induced. As long as the interior surfaces of the Magmeter are clean and unobstructed, the meter accurately measures flow. If they get dirty or coated, all bets are off.

It was in the above mentioned upset situations where the University maintenance people were having problems. When upsets occurred, and the condensate polisher had to be by-passed, it meant the Magmeter would also have to be serviced because accuracy could no longer be guaranteed. Servicing the Magmeter was slow and costly. It meant shutting down the line, draining the pipe, removing the flowmeter, cleaning, and then putting it all back together.

Armstrong International’s Veris Group was called in for a consult. After review,  the Veris Group recommended installing an Accelabar® flow meter to offer an alternative solution that could provide reliable flow measurement regardless of an upset condition like unpolished condensate. The Accelabar provided a flow range of 22.5:1 turndown in flow, in a limited straight run scenario. In the past, two transmitters were required to provide the best accuracy across the entire range of the Accelabar. Veris was able to use the Foxboro IDP 10S with its FoxCal™ technology in order to have a combined percent of rate accuracy solution.

The new transmitter installation has 11 separate calibrations loaded into the device. As the differential pressure from the primary element is measured, the transmitter chooses the correct calibration curve. Veris’ solution delivered performance that was previously unattainable with a single differential pressure transmitter.

The Accelabar and Foxboro combined to be best solution, and the Accelabar flow meter is now the University's standard for the boiler feed water measurements.

For more information, contact:

Mead O'Brien, Inc.
10800 Midwest Industrial Blvd
St Louis,  MO 63132
314-423-5161
314-423-5707
www.meadobrien.com