Level control for a high throughput catalytic pilot plant

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10 September 2021

PCS for controlling process parameters other than ‘just’ pressure

Based on PCS’ expertise and experience around valve technologies as well as sensor technologies on the one hand, and with our broad network of partners and suppliers, on the other hand, we are – admittedly – proud of our track record in the engineering of precision process control solutions rather than ‘just’ pressure control solutions.

Although we operate independently and are therefore free to select instruments that best match the requirements of individual customers, it is due to the versatile and unique characteristics of the Equilibar® back pressure regulator that we can often engineer innovative solutions that outperform other, traditional products available in the market. In combination with our knowledge and carefully selected components, the Equilibar BPR serves as a control valve, offering many possibilities and benefits for modern process engineering.

Customer Case Study: Level Control

This case study is an example where the back pressure regulator was applied as a level control valve. Because transparency is one of PCS’ key values, we do note that in this particular example the control set-up uses a customer-selected sensor. This is exemplary for our way of working: PCS always aims to cooperate closely with the customer to achieve optimally customized solutions for each project.

Our customer Zeton has been working with PCS and has been familiar with Equilibar’s back pressure technology for pressure control for quite some time. The project in this case study shows how our pressure control technology makes the difference, also when it comes to different process parameters, in this case: level control.

Zeton came to PCS with a project for IFPEN. The project aimed to significantly upgrade an existing pilot plant consisting of 12 catalytic reactors, performing high-throughput experiments in vegetable oil, animal fat, diesel, and vacuum gas oil hydroprocessing, for the purpose of IFPEN’s research around Sustainable Aviation Fuel (also known as “SAF”).

Improving control accuracy for more effective research techniques

High-throughput catalysis offers researchers the possibility to study and understand a wide range of variables. To maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the research, reliability, precision and versatility of the research instrumentation is a key element. Automation and control of process parameters such as pressure, temperature, flow, and flow rate as well as level are of vital importance. Zeton’s customer specifically wanted to improve the automation of the separation technique, to achieve higher accuracy in sample analysis.

The current case study, co-written by PCS founder Armand Bergsma together with Jeff Jennings of Equilibar, was published in P.I. | Process Instrumentation in September 2021. It takes a deeper look at how the system designers in this project could not achieve their goals with traditional methods of level control. Instead, PCS recommended the use of a dome-loaded direct-sealing control valve, implementation of which resulted in a successful improvement of the process performance.

Problems in the Process: Complications in Level Control

Downstream of each reactor, there was a low-pressure stripping column for the purpose of gas/liquid separation right before taking samples. Stable pressure in these columns is important to avoid flashing and unwanted impact on the sample quality. Pressure disruptions are to be prevented. Traditionally, this is done using serial metering valves or on/off-valves; this is not adequate when the process conditions become more volatile. More volatile process conditions will cause fluctuations in the process that require an operator’s supervision or even intervention, which obviously impacts the efficiency and reliability of the research.

Solution for Level Control

By implementing a new approach to precisely control the level in the stripping column, Zeton was able to automate the control of level and to improve the stability in this. Combining a back pressure regulator with an electronic pressure controller, Zeton implemented an innovative control valve with capabilities beyond any conventional level control device: Higher accuracy, despite fluctuations in the flow rate or in viscosity. Automatically.

Full Case Study in PI-Process Instrumentation Magazine

Read the full article here to read all the details.

Want to know more?

Contact us! We are eager to explore how we can help you improve your application for better process control. No matter how demanding your process requirements are, we are confident that PCS can add value to your project.



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