PTQ Gas 2022 Issue

gas 2022



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5 Breaking the code for increased LNGproduction Rene Gonzalez


Worldwide gas industry goes full throttle Rene Gonzalez


Digital twins heat up the capabilities of energy storage plants Alan Messenger Optimal Industrial Automation


Beyond hydrogen Ron Beck Aspen Tech


Stahl columns – an alternative to molecular sieves? Jeffrey A Weinfeld, Nathan A Hatcher, Daryl R Jensen, Ralph Weiland and Chris Villegas Optimized Gas Treating, Inc.

26 Ceramic coating application in a refinery steam methane reformer furnace Yahya Aktas, Muammer Sever and Metin Becer Tüpras, Izmir refinery


Economical structural design of natural gas processing plants Osama Bedair Consultant Continuing role of natural gas Bryan Mandelbaum and Carina Winters Black & Veatch


Cover The worldwide gas industry serves the role as the primary energy transition suite of products on the road to low-carbon emissions

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Breaking the code for increased LNG production

T he LNG industry is just over 50 years old and will play a dominant role in the transition to zero-carbon fuels. Its direct linkage to power, fuels, hydrogen, ammonia, petrochemicals, and CCS has underpinned the emergence of a worldwide natural gas market. LNG demand plays an essential role in accelerating the development of zero- carbon energy and power sources. For example, the need for distributed energy resources for the mining of precious metals in remote regions compels the demand for LNG to power 2-35 MW microgrids popping up in Africa, South America, and the Caribbean basin. Coal-to-gas diversification strategies have been a significant factor in driving LNG demand in China and India. Europe is also playing a major role in the global LNG market despite the 2020 emergence of the global pandemic and the intensity of the war in The Ukraine. In fact, LNG markets are expected to grow significantly, with 210 Mtpa in incremental supply by 2040, according to a recent McKinsey & Co. report. That is an almost 50% increase in today’s supply. In the past, bottlenecks to global expansion of LNGmarkets have been due to a lack of LNG import terminals and related infrastructure, along with nascent government support. On the positive side, the ability to ‘break the code’ for the fracking technology needed to bring LNG to market efficiently from shale basins launched the massive expansion of LNG and ethylene production from shale based ethane. The LNG industry’s characteristics are well understood, and, in most cases, first principles engineering solutions are available. Lately, inefficient LNG production results from feedstocks varying in composition, contaminant levels, and other factors, leading to nonlinearities in LNG operations. With energy optimisation of the single mixed refrigerant (MR) natural gas liquefaction process, we see parallels with the optimal operation of large-scale liquid hydrogen plants utilising mixed fluid refrigeration systems. For these MR based systems, maximising overall plant efficiencies, increasing an LNG plant’s liquefaction section’s performance and reducing downtime is crucial to increasing productivity from each LNG train. Variations in MR based technologies continue to dominate onshore LNG infrastructure, while moderate-to-small but highly efficient modular LNG units open opportunities to capture underserved LNG markets. It is no secret that government and national policies heavily influence the LNG industry’s velocity. LNG is good insurance for dealing with the intermittency of renewable resources like wind and solar and the high costs of EVs. The dramatic rise in the cost of precious metals, such as platinum, palladium, and cobalt used in EVs, wind generators, and battery storage, may extend the timetables for zero-emissions targets, further increasing reliance on LNG. Capital constraints may nonetheless limit the expansion or construction of greenfield LNG facilities. Otherwise, optimisation and efficiency strategies can yield more value from existing LNG facilities. The accelerating role of AI seen in other industries can benefit LNG operations. Even a 1-2% increase in production can result in an additional $10-20 million in revenue. For example, combining an AI and ML suite of interoperable solutions can identify factors impacting production, including product yields varying over time and quality issues emerging without sufficient warning. Against this backdrop, we developed Gas 2022 to provide additional process insights that can help industry engineers identify opportunities to close the gap between current and optimal production.

Editor Rene Gonzalez tel: +1 713 449 5817

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Gas 2022 5

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Worldwide gas industry goes full throttle As theworld transitions to low-carbon energy sources like LNG, gasmarkets are diversifying further into hydrogen, ammonia, methanol, and petrochemicals


N atural gas is the most hydro- gen-rich carbon source available on earth. Its uses continue diversifying in parallel with its cost varying worldwide, such as $3.92 per MMBtu in North America compared to over $12 per MMBtu in Europe. Its demand is nonetheless going to increase every- where as the circular economy tran- sitions to net-zero emissions (NZEs) by 2050. But it is not just hard-to-abate sec- tors facing a long road to net zero. Sectors that have sites in remote locations, such as mines, need to overcome the hurdles of access before considering how they begin to reduce their emissions footprint. Decarbonisation Traditionally, diesel has been seen as the fuel of choice due to its inherent energy density, reliabil- ity, availability, and relative cost advantage. Natural gas emits up to 40% less CO 2 , 80% less NOx, and 99% less SO 2 than diesel, making it a good bridging solution for com- panies seeking to take the first step towards decarbonisation. Because of these bespoke aspects, natural gas will be the fastest-grow- ing fossil fuel from 2020 to 2035. It is the only fossil fuel expected to grow beyond 2030, peaking in 2037 before being replaced by renewa- ble solutions. In addition to pro- ducing fewer emissions than other fossil fuels, some of its other bene- fits include being environmentally safer to store than other fossil fuels. At its current level of consumption, natural gas has enough recoverable resources to last around 230 years, according to certain estimates. Despite the current costs of hydrocarbon based gas resources in 2022, natural gas technology has

Lean amine

Sweet gas


Acid gas

Air cooler




Sour gas


Rich amine

Figure 1 Typical amine unit flow diagram

become much more accessible and dependable, providing more flex - ible energy options for industrial operations. For example, many natural gas generators needed for rapidly expanding mining opera- tions worldwide now offer a signif - icantly lower total cost of ownership than ultra-low sulphur No 2 die- sel and highly de-rated propane counterparts. Technology enhancements from the wellhead to the end user cre- ate efficiencies that translate to cost savings in nearly every aspect of the LNG lifecycle, from installa- tion to maintenance to fuel cost. This explains why the US Energy Information Administration (IEA) forecasts that US natural gas mar- keted production will increase to an average of 104.4 bcf/d in 2022 and then to a record-high 106.6 bcf/d in 2023. Major gas producers, including Qatar and Australia, are expected to report increasing year-on-year production as demand primarily grows in the industrial sector. Here, currently over 8% of the world’s gas production provides feedstock for the petrochemical sector. Other expanding sectors include:

• Midstream (pretreatment) • LNG

• Hydrogen • Ammonia

Midstream pretreatment From the wellhead to the process- ing facility (refinery, steam cracker, LNG plant), opportunities are expanding for technology suppliers at the upstream-to-midstream inter- face. Tighter specifications around contaminants removal before enter- ing the pipeline (to the processing facility) range from sulphur to mer- cury removal of produced gas. For example, over 700 in-the-field gas plants in the Canadian province of Alberta vary in complexity from simple gravity based separation of gas and liquids to Claus based sul- phur recovery units (SRUs), amine units (see Figure 1 ), tail gas treaters (TGTs), and sour water strippers. In the gas processing industry, H 2 S, SO 2 , CS 2 , mercury, and other con- taminants need to be removed to meet pipeline specifications. The gas treatment technology to achieve specifications is gener - ally well understood. However, the challenges to achieve quality spec- ifications by removal of harmful

Gas 2022 7

The use of process knowledge for securing multiple objective solu- tions in LNG liquefaction improves operations and overall infrastruc- ture. Diagnostic analytics and spe- cialised services can also play a more prominent role, along with condition monitoring. This includes technology to listen to machines and use the generated acoustical data combined with AI and ML algorithms to diagnose plant health. The competitive global LNG mar- ket has traditionally favoured scale, like the mega-LNG facilities seen in Qatar and along the US Gulf Coast. There are nonetheless regions (such as the Caribbean Basin) that ben- efit from nimble small-scale LNG (ssLNG) exporters, such as fuelling solutions for marine industries, as well as supporting grid constrained power generation (see Figure 2 ). Novel solutions Opportunities are available for first movers in the ssLNG industry capa- ble of delivering novel solutions. For example, smaller markets in the Caribbean, Central America, and parts of South America benefit from access to modular ssLNG infra- structure. In these regions, there are many power needs where there is no grid access to balance the inter- mittency of renewable fuel sources like wind and solar. Sustainability focused companies for whom certain renewables do not fit are carefully integrating LNG (and later H 2 ) into their decarboni- sation options. For example, nimble business models lead to the devel- opment of customised solutions with LNG. Hydrogen H 2 has enormous potential to become an important part of a decarbonised energy system, which is why countries across the world are making H 2 a keystone to a sus- tainable, cost-effective energy source. To meet market demand for emerging applications, exporters can leverage existing LNG infrastructure (such as cryogenics, terminals) for waterborne liquid H 2 shipment. Blending H 2 into the existing nat- ural gas infrastructure has national and regional benefits for energy stor -

Figure 2 Small-scale LNG facilities are capturing niche market opportunities ( Photo courtesy of Eagle LNG )

industry’s focus on improving liq- uefaction processes to improve pro- duction while also saving energy. Refrigerant composition is a major key variable, and up to half of energy consumption (such as fuel gas) can be reduced by changing operating conditions and refrigerant composition. Optimisation of LNG mixed refrigerant (MR) processes takes into consideration operation and design objectives. In any case, min- imising compressor power is the most crucial operational target. Compared to mega LNG produc- ers, smaller suppliers deliver value by developing efficient supply arrangements for end users in niche markets, as seen in the Caribbean Basin (cruise liners, power gener- ation in remote islands). In addi- tion, small-scale LNG exports are increasing in support of utility peak shaving for electrical grids in devel- oping areas. Reliability of equipment As world-scale LNG trains become larger, big data diagnostics of an LNG plant’s liquefaction section provide early warning of potential anomalies, such as high gas tur- bine exhaust speed. For example, analytics derived from big data has increased uptime of Baker Hughes’ LM 9000 gas turbines and linked subsystems. According to infor- mation from Baker Hughes, diag- nostic analytics of the liquefaction section includes site teams to help implement actions and schedule inspections.

components require midstream sul- phur removal infrastructure involv- ing absorption, extraction, oxidation, dehydration, and conversion pro- cesses to yield elemental sulphur, as discussed in the accompanying arti- cles in this issue of Gas . LNG LNG related applications are becom- ing a big part of the industrial and transportation sector’s transition to NZEs. Incentives for LNG market expansion take on various forms worldwide, such as investments in certain LNG plants categorised as sustainable and ‘green’ under rules proposed by the European Commission in March 2022. This recognition is an impor- tant metric for investors favouring green investments that need mas- sive amounts of private capital to meet climate change targets. LNG combustion yields exceptionally low emissions, including emissions (SOx, CO 2 ), allowing for easier per- mitting and favoured by investors. Regulations are shaking up mar- kets once dominated by distillate and heavy fuel oil, predicating the opportunity for LNG to fill the void. In addition, petroleum refiners may see more value in converting middle distillate to petrochemicals rather than diesel-range products. This development will open opportuni- ties to replace diesel/distillate, such as maritime shipping, with LNG. World-scale plants LNG liquefaction is an energy- intensive process, compelling the

8 Gas 2022

Vent gas

Pretreatment unit

CO capture unit


Cooling water








Direct contact cooler





Lean/rich heat exchanger


Flue gas after ue gas desulphurisation


Rich solvent pump

Lean solvent pump

Courtesy of Emerson Automation Solutions

Figure 3 Typical configuration of a CO 2 capture process

age, resiliency, and emissions reduc- tions. H 2 produced from renewable or other resources can be injected into natural gas pipelines, and con- ventional end users of natural gas can then use the blend to generate. There is increasing investor inter- est to use H 2 for power genera- tion, marine transport, and other applications. This explains why LNG exporters are considering H 2 options for their clients based on LNG and port infrastructure repur- posed for waterborne liquid H 2 shipment. For example, with some ‘tweaks’, single mixed refrigerant modular liquefaction technology can be used to liquefy H 2 . Cryogenic technology that sub- cools natural gas to LNG could also cool volatile H 2 gas down to -253°C to create liquefied H 2 , increasing its density. The real challenge may be the ability of pipeline infrastructure to avoid H 2 embrittlement, com - promising safety. As far as the end user is concerned, liquid H 2 ’s high energy density may also be one of the best decarbonisation options for marine shipping. Modifications From phase separators and sub coolers to refuelling and bunkering facilities, natural gas to LNG cryo-

Interest in green and blue H 2 is rapidly expanding. In any case, the cost to increase H 2 production from sources outside conventional H 2 production technologies (SMR, ATR) remains high. Technical chal- lenges still need to be overcome. For example, membrane based electro- lysers cannot output H 2 at pressures required for refinery hydrotreating and hydrocracking of biofeedstocks. This is due to a number of fac- tors, including the sensitivity of most electrolysers’ membranes to high pressures over 70 bar (1015 psi). As a result of these high-pres- sure requirements, expensive and maintenance-intensive compressors are required to be co-located with almost all electrolysers, increas- ing the true cost and complexity of clean H 2 . One company, Supercritical Solutions Ltd, recently developed a new class of electrolyser. Its propri- etary membrane-less design enables it to exploit the benefits of supercrit - ical water, outputting gases at over 200 bar (2900 psi) of pressure, elim- inating expensive H 2 compressors (in most applications). The technol- ogy takes direct aim at decarbonis- ing industrial H 2 use cases. Supercritical’s electrolyser design can tolerate and exploit the bene-

genic liquefaction technology can be modified to liquefy H 2 . In addition, a new generation of cryogenic pipe- line referred to as cryogenic pipe- in-pipe (PiP) increases efficiency. With these modifications, LNG infrastructure to liquefy H 2 could be about 55% cheaper than building greenfield H 2 infrastructure. Green hydrogen H 2 is a crucial molecule for NZE decarbonisation targets. Today, the industrial H 2 market is already at $120 billion and is expected to increase. In addition integrating green H 2 ecosystems in the down- stream refinery and petrochemical industry, H 2 as a stand-alone fuel will grow in importance. Bank of America recently estimated $11 tril- lion in green H 2 investment oppor- tunities by 2050. New H 2 production sources (such as electrolysers) are under consid- eration. Coprocessing of hydro- carbon feeds with biomass based feeds requires significantly more H 2 . Hydroprocessing technologies used in the refining sector for copro - cessing require H 2 pressures of 70 to 230 bar (1015 to 3336 psi). These pressures, at least for refinery oper - ations, challenge membrane based electrolysers.

10 Gas 2022

opments that produce ammonia from renewable energy, or methane reforming with CO 2 capture, (see Figure 3 ) ammonia can be burned directly as a carbon emissions-free energy source. With new technical advances, ammonia may become a key player in the H 2 revolution. Ammonia is more energy dense than H 2 . Data available from Black & Veatch men- tion that the volumetric H 2 density of liquid ammonia is about 45% higher than that of liquid H 2 , mean- ing that more H 2 can be stored in liquid ammonia compared to liquid H 2 with the same volume. 1 Too much data The gas industry generates mas- sive amounts of data, but with a perceived inability to extract max- imum value in an industry under significant pressure to be more effi - cient and sustainable. Gas process- ing facilities, such as LNG, generate epic amounts of data through a pro- liferation of instrumented automatic control systems and operational practices. Although the gas indus-

try’s future looks bright, we are under no illusion that it will remain that way for various unforeseen reasons. On the positive side, recent World Bank reports (such as The Potential of Zero-Carbon Bunker Fuels in Developing Countries, which examines a range of zero-car- bon bunker fuel options) show that green ammonia and green H 2 strike the most advantageous bal- ance of favourable features. This is due to their lifecycle GHG emis- sions, broader environmental fac- tors, scalability, economics, and technical and safety implications. Furthermore, the report finds that many countries, including devel- oping countries, are very well posi- tioned to become future suppliers of zero-carbon bunker fuels – namely ammonia and H 2 . References 1 P Molloy, C Jackson, A Leedom, Everything about Hydrogen Podcast: Building Hydrogen Infrastructure with Black & Veatch, IGEM: Institute of Gas Engineers & Managers, 2020.

fits of electrolysis of water under thermodynamic supercritical con- ditions: water at high temperature and pressure. Importantly, the bonds between the H 2 and oxy- gen atoms of water are weakened and, as such, require less electrical energy (i.e., lower cost) to split the bonds and free H 2 atoms. This is important because 70-80% of the levellised cost of generated H 2 is operating expenses, primar- ily driven by the cost of electricity. Operating at supercritical condi- tions, traditional electrolysers face the challenge of their membranes or diaphragms disintegrating. Their physical structure would also fail under these relatively high pres- sures and temperatures, resulting in failure of the electrolyser. Ammonia Widely used as an agricultural fertiliser, ammonia continues to expand its role in the green energy economy. It can be easily liquified for storage and worldwide ship- ment in the same infrastructure as LNG. Due to new technical devel-

Gas 2022 11


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Digital twins heat up the capabilities of energy storage plants How to support future energy security by enhancing energy storagewith automated digital twins

ALAN MESSENGER Optimal Industrial Automation

R enewable natural gas (RNG), solar, wind, and other sus- tainable resources are at the core of decarbonisation and energy transition strategies. To effectively support their large-scale adoption, it is necessary to ensure dispatch- able generation and predictable supply to the grid. Future-oriented energy storage plants that leverage cutting-edge industrial automation, such as digital twin technology, can succeed in this by taking advantage of accurate, real-time simulation models. Renewable energy sources, such as RNG, provide multiple benefits. In addition to supporting ambitious decarbonisation and net-zero goals, they offer the most economical way to create a decentralised power sys- tem. This, in turn, can help achieve universal, reliable and affordable access to power. For these reasons, the use of alter- native energy sources is increasing in popularity, representing almost 11% of power generated globally and forming a major part of the energy mix in many counties. 1 For example, renewable energy use in Norway covered more than 60% of total consumption in 2018. 2 One of the key challenges that must be overcome to support the increasing adoption of renewable natural gas and other replenisha- ble resources for power generation is balancing fluctuating electric - ity demands with the intermittent nature of some renewable sources. For example, to succeed in decar - bonisation efforts and avoid any wastage, it is essential to prevent curtailment. This occurs when a power generation system is pre - vented from exporting to the grid,

usually because of a temporary con - straint caused by congestion, essen- tially wasting potential low-carbon energy supplies. Importance of advanced energy storage solutions To fully utilise generation capac- ity, robust, reliable, and highly effi - cient energy storage solutions are required, as they can provide the level of flexibility needed to main - tain stable and consistent supply to the grid. Strategies such as these can support peak shaving and load shifting activities. Compressed-air energy storage (CAES), in its various thermo-me - chanical forms, is among the most promising technologies available at a commercial scale for high-capac - ity energy management. By saving potential energy in the form of com - pressed air, these systems are able to generate large amounts of power on demand. Also, apart from access to a cav - ern, CAES facilities are not depend- ant on specific geographies, unlike pumped hydropower, and their daily self-discharge is very low, making it possible to effectively keep the stored energy for long periods without any considerable losses. In addition, due to the well- proven nature of the underlying equipment, CAES plants typically have a designed lifetime of over 40 years, which keeps the overall costs per unit of energy (or power) among the lowest for all available storage technologies. To achieve these results, CAES facilities can utilise different config - urations, one being the innovative liquid air energy storage method, which leverages thermo-mechanical

principles to advance the benefits of CAES. In the liquid air variant, air is purified and cooled to its liquid state during the charge phase. It is then stored at cryogenic tempera - tures and low pressure in suitable tanks. When discharged, the liquid air is pumped to a high pressure, evaporated, and heated to expand the liquid air stream. The resulting high-pressure gas drives a set of turbines in a power recovery unit. Liquid air energy storage The liquid air energy storage cycle described above utilises compo - nents that are commonly found in conventional power stations and industrial air separation plants. Therefore, they offer multiple advantages. Firstly, they are well proven and broadly accepted. Secondly, this equipment is widely available to support commer - cial-scale facilities. Finally, they have well-understood maintenance requirements. Furthermore, the use of liquid air energy storage systems leads to energy densities that can be up to 8.5 times higher than conven - tional compressed air alternatives. 3 Therefore, it is possible to create compact plants that are more eco - nomical, efficient, easier to imple - ment, and suitable for sites with limited available space. In addition, the power generation cycle eliminates the need for com - bustion and the associated carbon emissions while also supporting ‘cold recycle’ practices. Waste heat from the liquefier compressors is recovered within the process for highly efficient operations and the storage and recycling of thermal energy released during discharge

Gas 2022 13

Highview Power is supporting the global adoption of advanced cryogenic plants with its proprietary liquid air energy storage technology

on the system as inputs and pro- duces predictions about future behaviours. It then turns this data into accurate, accessible, and eas- ily understandable information formats for immediate insights. As more data becomes available, the digital twin can be constantly updated to offer improved accu - racy and additional capabilities. The most immediate benefit of a such framework is the ability to organ- ise all process information and have a single, comprehensive process overview that allows for effective decision-making. Digital twins empower operators to simulate different operating con - ditions and scenarios, evaluating the system’s limitations without the need to run these in the physical world. This, in turn, helps improve cost-effectiveness and safety. Consequently, a digital twin appli- cation that encompasses all stages of a liquid air energy storage plant is a key tool that can be used to enhance process modelling and under- standing while also enabling agile operations and driving continuous improvements. Furthermore, these virtual representations can go even further, interacting with their phys- ical counterparts as cyber-physical systems (CPSs) to create even more proactive and flexible setups. To fully reap the benefits of the

plant operators can ensure the proper sequencing of all processes and promptly address any alarm to maximise uptime, ultimately delivering high efficiency and pro - ductivity. As a result, it is possible for facilities to realise dispatchable and predictable power distribution to the grid while also maintaining a low – or even net-zero – carbon footprint. However, having precise control over operations to ensure optimum operations requires an in-depth understanding of the process and the ways in which all components work together and influence each other. Only in this way is it possible to effectively regulate all activities. As liquid air energy storage facili- ties are relatively new, this insight may not be readily available to plant managers. Leveraging digital twin technology A flexible automation setup that can support liquid air energy storage plants while helping to develop process knowledge is a key resource. Moreover, the use of advanced data analytics can enable the creation of an accurate and pre- cise process model known as a dig- ital twin. This offers a real-time virtual representation of a physical asset. It uses data generated by sensors

can be used as part of a closed-loop system to support air liquification activities during charging.

Automating energy storage process control

A liquid air energy storage pro- cess offers per se unique finan - cial and environmental benefits. Nonetheless, with temperatures ranging between -200 and +600 °C and pressures reaching up to 200 bar, small variations in these can impact performance significantly. This means that the optimum control of processing parameters throughout the different phases is key. This is essential to maintain- ing energy efficiency and low costs while maximising the end results. By supporting real-time feedback and feedforward systems, as well as remote monitoring, industrial automation technologies provide an ideal solution to consistently deliver peak performance and efficiency. More precisely, fully integrated automated process control provides a highly available, responsive, and secure framework for monitoring and visualisation, trending, and analysis, as well as the management and synchronisation of all pieces of electro-mechanical equipment on-site. By using this type of automated setup, liquid air energy storage

14 Gas 2022

latest industrial automation solu- tions, such as advanced process control and digital twins, energy storage facilities can partner with an expert system integrator. This can address the specific needs of the sector and is equipped to sup- port innovative processing meth- ods and technologies, delivering futureproof, scalable solutions that can grow with a business as well as advance it. Adigital twin of the first full-scale UK liquid air energy storage facility Highview Power, a specialist in long-duration energy storage solu- tions, is supporting the global adoption of advanced cryogenic plants with its proprietary liquid air energy storage technology. The company’s latest project is the con- struction of a 50 MW liquid air energy storage facility (with a min- imum of 250 MWh) in Carrington Village, Greater Manchester, UK. The plant will be able to power approximately 200 000 homes for six hours a day, and help balance the supply and demand for renewables. To ensure successful operations at the facility, the company is collab- orating closely with its automation and technology development part- ner, Optimal Industrial Automation. The automation system integra- tor has been supporting Highview Power since the creation of the cry- ogenic energy storage specialist’s first pre-commercial scale demon - stration plant at the Pilsworth Landfill facility in Bury, Greater Manchester. Since the automation requirements of this initial facility were unspecified, due to the unique nature of the technology, an auto- mation specialist that could ‘handle the unknown’ and deliver a flex - ible solution was a must. Having already developed a proven system to address these challenges, starting with the instrumentation require- ments and through to commis- sioning, Optimal was the obvious choice. For its latest, larger project in Carrington, Highview Power was keen for the automated system to feature a digital twin of the liquid air energy storage facility for use in training and for marketing demon-

strations. This would support the growth of good asset data, which is key to the continuous improvement of the process model and an increas- ingly detailed understanding. By doing so, the digital twin would ultimately support the optimisation of this and future plants as well as futureproofing energy storage oper - ations, in line with the company’s digital transformation strategy. To develop this solution, Optimal had to address a number of exacting requirements. Firstly, the team had to select heavy-duty instruments that could withstand the operating conditions at the liquid air energy storage plant. Secondly, it was essential to create an automated setup that would be extremely accurate and reliable in order to promptly identify and act upon any change in the key processing parameters, such as temperature and pressure, while maximising plant efficiency, performance, and safety. When looking at the parame- ters needed for the digital twin, it was necessary to enable it to inter- face with advanced mathematical models and simulation software platforms in addition to the physi- cal automation system. To address

this level of complexity, providing a solution that could support mul- tithreading and multiprocessing functions was crucial. To address these challenges, Optimal selected high-perfor- mance components featuring advanced redundancy, availability, fault-tolerance as well as maximum connectivity The automation system is now ready to support full operations at the Carrington facility. References 1 IEA, SDG7: Data and Projections. IEA. [Online] 2020. [Cited: 7 Mar 2022] www..iea. org/reports/sdg7-data-and-projections. 2 World Bank. Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) database from the SE4ALL Global Tracking Framework led jointly by the World Bank, International Energy Agency and the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program. [Online] [Cited: 7 Mar 2022] https : //data.wor EG.FEC.RNEW.ZS?end=2018&start=2016&vie w=map. 3 Wang S X, Xue X D, Zhang X L, Guo J, Zhou Y, Wang J J, The Application of Cryogens in Liquid Fluid Energy Storage Systems, Physics Procedia , 67, 2015, 728-732.

Alan Messenger is Sales Director at Optimal Industrial Automation, with 30 years of experience in automation and control.

Highview Power’s automation and technology development partner, Optimal Industrial Automation, developed a digital twin of the world’s largest liquid air energy storage plant, in Carrington Village, Greater Manchester, UK

Gas 2022 15


Process Gas Compressor inside

Diaphragm Compressor inside

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Beyond hydrogen

Howdigital solutions helpenergy companies achieve short- and long-termsustainability

RON BECK Aspen Tech

T he energy transition, inextrica- bly linked with a global drive for sustainability in energy, chemical, and related industries, is already impacting the European economy and all players across the energy value chain. These geopoliti- cal forces were put into sharp focus in the final months of 2021. First, at COP26 and latterly at the major international energy event held in November, ADIPEC 21, where representatives of the capi- tal-intensive industries discussed how their businesses are focusing strongly on increasing efforts to improve sustainability and reach zero-carbon targets, and at the same time satisfy the world’s ongoing needs for energy from all sources. Together with the pressing count- down to 2030 and the culmination of the EU’s climate target plan, such events are focusing minds, acting as a catalyst for change and increas- ing the urgent need for technology that enables sustainability and envi- ronmentally efficient operations. Additionally, alongside the reduc- tion in carbon emissions, there is a greater focus on commitments toward reducing plastic waste and single-use materials. An additional thrust is a soaring demand for energy as we emerge from the impacts of the pandemic and as Asian economies continue to grow, also underscoring the need for more sustainable solutions, which includes the responsibility to meet the needs for affordable energy to a growing middle class in emerging economies. Leadership Industry has been implicitly granted the opportunity to demonstrate a leadership role, given that the world’s governments at COP26 fell short of reaching the kinds of agree-

ments that climate change activists and much of the global public have been calling for. There is growing evidence that energy companies are taking this mantle of responsibility very seriously. ARC Advisory Group’s recent report, The Sustainability Future for Energy and Chemicals 1 , revealed that 90% of global energy and chemical companies have sustainability initi- atives in place. A recent AspenTech survey of over 300 companies glob - ally indicates that 78% of executives believe that effective carbon reduc - tion provides their company with an opportunity for competitive advan- tage. Therefore, it is little surprise that increasing numbers of oil and gas companies, such as BP and Shell, have committed to their own net- zero carbon emission targets. But what solutions are most suit- able to meet the needs of the energy transition and help energy com- panies achieve their sustainability goals? Renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal power generation are of unequal potential geographically. Many parts of Asia are challenged by limited access to locations that can generate substantial solar or wind power. Whereas advantaged locations, such as Indonesia and Iceland, have abundant geothermal potential (as well as the mineralogy to support permanent fixing of CO 2 as car- bonates). Biofuels have regulatory advantages for adoption in Europe, but sourcing the land and growers for the needed volumes of biomate- rials will be an increasing bottleneck. In addition, some industrial appli- cations, such as air and ocean trans- port and steel manufacture, are hard to decarbonise, which is counter-pro- ductive to growing efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of a process or energy source. What is more, the

electrification of vehicles and other applications will create a large future demand for metals processing, espe- cially the so-called rare earths, which has an uncertain lifecycle carbon impact and a concentrated supply chain. Clean hydrogen Enter hydrogen, which offers the opportunity to fill a significant frac - tion of the world’s need for energy and can be generated carbon-free. Tayba Al Hashemi, CEO of ADNOC Sour Gas and chairman of ADIPEC, referenced its importance when he said, in the lead-in to the important international gathering: “If the world is going to manage a secure and successful energy tran- sition, the role of traditional energy companies, with their expertise, resources and capabilities, will be critical. ADIPEC 2021 will provide a much-needed platform for industry leaders and innovators to explore the impact of shifts in government pol- icy and changing demand dynamics, as well as to progress the decarbon- isation potential of technologies like CCUS and hydrogen.” Indeed, on day one of the ADIPEC event, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and ADQ announced that Japan’s Mitsui & Co., Ltd (Mitsui) and the Republic of Korea’s (Korea) GS Energy Corporation (GS Energy) have agreed to partner with TA’ZIZ and Fertiglobe to develop the world- scale low-carbon blue ammonia facility at the TA’ZIZ Industrial Chemicals Zone in Ruwais. The part- nerships are expected to accelerate Abu Dhabi’s position as a leader in low-carbon fuels, capitalising on the growing demand for blue ammonia as a carrier fuel for clean hydrogen. However, for all its undoubted potential, hydrogen also presents

Gas 2022 17

Hydrogen Economy: Key Digital Solutions To advance the h ydrogen e conomy, i nnovation, r apid s cale-up and a dvanced o perating s trategies are needed

Accelerate Hydrogen Production Innovation (Process Mode l ling & Eco n o m ics) Accelerate research-to-construction pipeline Improve conversion processes Exhaustively evaluate alternatives

Blue Hydrogen and Ammonia Asset Optimi s ation (Digital Twin, Energy Model l ing, APC)

Optimi s e energy use Optimi s e production Carbon capture

Improve fuel cell economics De-risk storage and transport

De-risk and Optimi s e the Hydrogen Value Chain (Systems Risk Mode l ling, Planning and Scheduling) Buil d the right value chain Optimi s e integration with natural gas networks

Rapid Repeatable Design and Operation (Process M ode l ling, Collaborative FEED) Need to scale Operate complex plants with minimum sta

Figure 1 The hydrogen economy: Key digital solutions

Other innovative hydrogen syn- thesis approaches and hydrogen liq- uefaction can be represented. These approaches incorporate the selection of carrier fluids and pipeline trans - port, accelerating commercialisation and improving access to capital. Several specific digital technology opportunities to accelerate innova- tion include: • Hybrid models incorporating arti- ficial intelligence (AI), together with first-principles models for new pro - cesses, including membrane technol- ogy, combining reforming, carbon capture, and novel processes • AI also facilitates the ability for advanced warning of any potential breakdowns and find root causes to design reliability risks out of future plants and assets • Rate based simulation modelling for carbon capture and advanced reservoir modelling to identify most economic carbon capture projects • Powerful, rigorous models to han - dle electrochemistry • High-performance computing for evaluating thousands of alternatives in an optioneering context • Integrated economics to rapidly screen techno-economic alternatives during concept design and pilot plant testing. When integrating collaborative engineering workflow, cross-func - tional teams (with and across organ - isations) will be able to rapidly select concepts, scale-up designs, execute projects, and use modular design to accelerate industrial implementation. This can drive down project timeta - bles by more than 50%.

tions provides the visibility, analy- sis, and insight needed to accelerate innovation to achieve sustainability targets. In the case of the hydrogen economy, digital technology will be a major accelerator for driving down the cost of hydrogen, evalu - ating and optimising many value chain alternatives and removing constraints to scale the value chain safely. Success in using digital solutions begins with harnessing the vast volumes of data available from the first generation of hydrogen syn - thesis plants and end-use fuel cells, learning from those, and driving the economics further. Drilling down further, here is how today’s digital technologies can expedite the tran- sition to hydrogen, impacting key functional areas: • Employing advanced methods for innovation and optioneering while driving down costs • Integrating collaborative engineer - ing workflows • Facilitating advanced, integrated supply chain planning • Automating processes to create the self-optimising plant paradigm • Optimising the value chain with risk and availability modelling. Advanced methods Advanced methods for innovation and optioneering can be employed while also driving down costs. This involves rigorous process simulation software (incorporating both chemis - try and electricity) that can represent hydrogen electrolysis and hydrogen reformer processes.

several challenges, especially con- cerning safety and infrastructure challenges of storage, transport, cost of electrolysis generation, sources and availability of renewable elec - tricity for electrolysis, cost and effi - ciency of carbon capture (in the case of blue hydrogen) and end-use safety. Despite these challenges, the hydrogen economy is seeing strong momentum, reflected in a continuing wave of announced capital projects that aim to deliver hydrogen gen- eration and storage at scale. In fact, several regions are investigating the feasibility of a hydrogen economy as a significant zero-carbon alternative. Digital technology will be an essential component in delivering the hydrogen economy, accelerating and de-risking innovation, de-risk- ing adoption, and enabling faster and better scale-up and optimisa - tion of the hydrogen value chain. It will require significant investment in new infrastructure to scale up this technology, and a concerted effort by governments and the private sector to support the process. Nevertheless, digital technology will ultimately be fundamental in overcoming many value chain obstacles, maximising commercialisation, design and sup- ply chains, and boosting production and economics. Digital technology Simply put, software technology will be a strategic asset as the indus - try seeks to navigate the energy transition successfully. The new generation of emerging digital solu-

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