chemical industry

Emission control made simple

Cost, safety and legislation are the main drivers that are forcing chemical industry operators to come up with better products as well as better ways to prevent leakage that was previously tolerated and viewed as inevitable.
Article by Roger Bours, Director Pressure Relief, Fike Corporation

Nowadays companies can face huge fines based on unacceptable emissions of a leaked product. The product loss itself is already expensive and in addition there is the huge safety aspect of leaked hydrocarbons or toxic media. However, cost effective ways to eliminate leakage from valves are available.

The chemical industry is one of the world’s largest with its sales exceeding $3 trillion in 2015. Due to its size and global activity the chemical sector has a big role to play in tackling climate change and achieving emission targets. Chemical products have a 2-fold effect on greenhouse emissions (greenhouse gases or GHG’s): GHG’s are emitted during the manufacturing process whilst the use of many of these products may create a reduction of emissions. Currently the following types of chemical production have been identified as key areas where GHG’s emission reductions are prioritized: ammonia production, urea production, ethylene production, chlor alkali production, and bio-isoprene production.

With the chemical industries in Germany (28.4%), France (15%), The Netherlands (9.6%), and Italy (9.6%) being the most important, it would make sense for these industry leaders to further focus on emission reduction. Germany has so far been the only country where mandatory legislation is in place related to quantification of industry leakage. The German “Technical Instructions on Air Quality Control” – also known as “Ta-Luft Regulations” – supported with industry standards such as VDI 2440 and DIN EN ISO 15848-1 have created an initial momentum in the reduction of actual fugitive emissions as the industry suppliers and users have been able to quantify the emission reductions.

The effect of this momentum is so far largely restricted to the German geographical area, with some smaller impact in the adjacent Austrian and Swiss regions and industries. Other European regions have little to no industry standards in place to assist in quantifying emission rates.

Prevention - a better strategy…

Preventing GHG’s from escaping to the atmosphere is a better approach than trying to reduce the effects of actually emitted products. One of the identified emission sources throughout the processing industry are pipe and process equipment connections. One commonly used type of industry connection is made through the use of flanges and gaskets. These seemingly “simple” connections are however sensitive to proper design, selection of gasket materials and bolting, installation and general wear & tear of the installation. Part of the recognized industrial emissions occur through unanticipated or spurious leaks in process systems, e.g. leaking valves, pumps or flange connections.

These “fugitive emissions” not only have an impact on the environment but also cause financial burden due to loss of potentially valuable materials and resulting plant inefficiency. Through the use of specified Ta-Luft classified piping components the requirements for LDAR (Leak Detection And Repair) can be dramatically reduced, helping to lower the cost of ownership of the plant. Furthermore, the actual and ongoing quantification of total plant leakage can be determined and predicted over an extended period of operations.

An already proven method to achieve an immediate reduction of fugitive emissions is to prevent continuous leakages of process media which is happening through the use of critical safety devices such as pressure or safety relief valves. These devices are – by principle – continuously exposed to pressurized process media, whereas most pressure relief valves are prone to leakage.

The Fike ValveGuard concept offers the option of installing a Ta-Luft certified Rupture Disc device upstream of the PRV. This results in controlled emissions reduction whilst reducing the baseload on the effluent handling system as the ongoing handling of the “standard” emissions will be dramatically reduced. The combination of pressure relief valves and upstream rupture discs will largely eliminate the ongoing emissions under normal operating conditions whilst the safety of the installation against overpressure conditions remains at the required level. Baseload of the emergency handling system is reduced, resulting in most effective investment usage whilst emission fines are avoided.

About Fike

Fike was founded in 1945 and is headquartered in Blue Springs, Missouri, USA. The company has grown to become a globally recognized supplier, and is an experienced, trusted expert in rupture disc technologies, explosion protection, fire alarm systems and fire suppression solutions.

Their highly skilled workforces design and build precision-engineered solutions and provide a personalized customer service experience for businesses around the world that want peace of mind from experiencing consequences of serious financial loss or a devastating disaster. In addition to its manufacturing facilities in the United States, Belgium, Wales, Canada and India, Fike has sales and service offices throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

About the Author

Roger Bours has worked with Fike for over twenty years and is a specialist in Pressure Relief Solutions as well as in Explosion Protection. Roger started his career working as a design & project engineer in instrumentational manufacturing and later took on roles which focused on sales and engineering for pressure relief & explosion protection.  His current role within Fike Corporation is Director for Pressure Relief.

Roger Bours was also one of the presenters at the inaugural Managing Aging Plants Conference & Expo in 2015. He then gave a presentation titled ‘Managing Pressure Safety in Aging Plant’ in which he addressed topics such as how the growing age of industrial processing plants creates an increasing challenge to plant owners and operators to continue to run in a safe and efficient manner, as well as how aging equipment – especially safety system design and changing legislations – may easily create conditions with challenging demands.


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