Article Archive
Controller System Captures LNG Data
Vol. 20 No. 6

Flameout Control's latest round of burn and gas dispersion testing at the BP LNG training facility in October collected mountains of raw data from multiple sources. Correlating that data into a single research document fell to ABB, Inc., a worldwide engineering company specializing in automated control systems for industry.

"We were approached by Michael Moore of Flameout who asked if we had the ability to record the data captured by the various gas detectors," said Gerald M. Farnaby, business development manager for safety solutions at ABB.

ABB's Industrial IT Extended Automation System 800xA controller merged data streams from two types of gas detectors - point and open path - positioned strategically near the open pit of liquefied natural gas. Add to that mix information from video flame detectors and, finally, a device monitoring weather conditions.

"We're going to make it very easy for people to analyze the data that we observed today so that we can forget the guesswork," Farnaby said. "We have real data collected in a practical and meaningful way by observing the various LNG spills as demonstrated here in Texas, giving us excellent results to research."

The 800xA - xA standing for extended automation - is used for ESD as well as F&G applications, also to monitor industrial process conditions such as temperature, flow, level and pressure. The controller receives information two ways -- either through the 4 to 20 milliamp signal standard for analog devices controlling process or via digital output from the latest generation of "smart" devices monitoring operations, such as gas detectors.

"We can even do line monitoring that tests the connection to the devices," Farnaby said. "It gives us a potential for a very high level of diagnostics and giving us a high level of integrity."

The controller monitors more than safety instruments. It manages actual operations such as fire and gas, burner management and other process controls critical to a refinery, offshore platform, nuclear facility or, in this case, an LNG terminal. At such a terminal the 800xA could initiate and control processes such as liquefaction, regasification, loading, off-loading and storage, Farnaby said.

ABB's 800xA controller is proven technology found in more than 200 industrial facilities worldwide, he said. The model used during the Flameout detector tests is the latest version, designated 800xA-HI (high integrity) Safety integrity level (SIL) is a measurement of the effectiveness of a safety system based on the probability of failures that can occur within a number of processing demands in a given time period.

The 800xA ranks as a SIL 2 rated safety and control system.

"We meet the customer's needs by specifying and configuring a system that will protect them to the level they require," Farnaby said.

ABB lent the use of their 800xA control system to the LNG test to, in turn, test their own equipment under actual catastrophic LNG loss conditions, he said.

"We are very much involved with helping customer protect and control their LNG facilities," Farnaby said. "We have a process that we've built, an LNG demo, which tackles specifically LNG projects such as regasification, off-loading from tankers and other processes. This was the first opportunity for us to prove its use in a practical environment to monitor LNG in an emergency situation as we tested today."

The opportunity to team up with companies the caliber of BP, Flameout Control, Zellweger, Kidde, Angus and Micropack was too good to miss, Farnaby said.

"We all kind of teamed up to test our technology," he said. o


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