Energy Consumption–the Constant Struggle in Mining

Emerson's Juan Carlos Bravo

Juan Carlos Bravo
Mining & Power Industry Manager

Author: Juan Carlos Bravo

It is no secret that the mining industry is energy intensive and most of the power grids are at the limit in providing power to existing mining operations. In order to remain competitive or expand operations, miners need to secure a reliable and affordable source of energy.

A good example of these energy struggles in the mining industry, is Chile. They are responsible for around a third of global copper output and as reported in Chile’s mining industry will nearly double its electricity consumption between now and 2025 as multibillion-dollar investments come to fruition.

This information is based on an extensive report published by the state copper commission Cochilco. The report warns that Chile needs to urgently ramp up its installed power capacity by 18,000 gigawatts to meet future sectorial demand.

The country’s mining sector energy operating costs represent roughly 14% of total production costs, equivalent to 27% per pound of metal, the highest level since 2000. Cochilco’s executive vice president, Sergio Hernández, said the electricity projects currently in the works are clearly insufficient to meet the future demands of the mining sector. He noted the current electricity generation portfolio would only cover around 40% of the mining sector’s electricity needs. Continue Reading

Improving Capital Efficiency in Well Pad Automation

A colleague pointed me to an article with an in depth analysis on the reasons behind the drop in oil price over the past several months. This economic climate makes oil & gas production project and operational efficiency even more important.

Michael Machuca Upstream O&G Industry Marketing Manager

Michael Machuca
Upstream O&G Industry Marketing Manager

At last summer’s Unconventional Resources Technology Conference (URTeC), Emerson’s Michael Machuca presented a paper, Well Pad Automation Improves Capital Efficiency and Reduces Fiscal Risk. His abstract:

Well-Pad-AutomationOil and gas operators in shale production face many challenges in developing well pad facilities. The rapid development and deployment of assets, accelerated production decline, and an evolving regulatory environment leave little margin for error and require effectively leveraging technology to achieve economically viable production and yield.

This paper examines best practices for implementing an automation strategy for well pad facilities in order to access insight into key variables that impact the health of the reservoir and optimize the custody transfer of oil and gas off the well pad. Field-proven solutions will be examined on how to fully utilize available measurement and control technologies to get beyond a “it works and is good enough” approach to effectively manage facilities. By utilizing innovative technology in a more systematic and cost-effective approach, operators can improve oil and gas process unit operations and reliability.

Michael described a tiered automation strategy that many oil & gas operators are implementing: Continue Reading

Distillation Column Control Basics – Part 1

Lou Heavner Systems/Project Engineering Consultant

Lou Heavner
Systems/Project Engineering Consultant

Author: Lou Heavner

In this 3-part series on distillation column control basics, we’ll look at traditional control and modern approaches to improve control robustness. For background, you can find a good write up on industrial distillation in Wikipedia.

Basic Distillation Components - Click to enlarge

Basic Distillation Components – Click to enlarge

In the distillation process, a feed mixture is separated by volatility or boiling point into 2 or sometimes more component streams. Energy in the form of heat is introduced at the bottom of the column in the reboiler and removed at the top of the column in the overhead condenser.

Closing the material and energy balances mean that at a minimum, the sum of the product flows must equal the feed flow and the enthalpy introduced with the feed and in the reboiler must be removed with the product streams and in the overhead condenser.

The product streams will not be perfectly pure and don’t need to be. Product purity is specified based on the subsequent use of the product stream. Purity is directly related to the amount of energy that is used in the process. Energy, itself, has a cost, so there is the competing objective of meeting purity specifications with minimum use of energy. Continue Reading

Optimizing Reactor Temperatures for Resins Manufacturer

Gergo Kertesz Advanced Process Control Engineer

Gergo Kertesz
Advanced Process Control Engineer

I heard a great story about a resins manufacturer who was having some issues in meeting quality specifications due to temperature variability in the process. Emerson’s Gergo Kertesz, whom you may recall from an Emerson Exchange presentation I liveblogged, shared this story.

This variability not only impacted the quality of the produced resin, it impacted overall energy usage and the amount of manual efforts required by plant operators to try to keep the produced products within specification limits. Improving the temperature control would mean reduced rework and optimized reaction speed.

The plant contained several reactors which required heating and cooling systems for the jackets surrounding each reactor. The objective was to keep the reactor temperature with 5°C of the setpoint. Additionally, if the temperature exceeded +30°C of the setpoint, the exothermic reaction speed would increase too fast. This would cause a distillation column overload at the top of the reactor. Continue Reading

Optimizing Business Operations via Pervasive Sensing

For many plants and production facilities, instrumentation devices measuring the process were limited to just what was needed for monitoring and control due to installation costs and complexity. Wireless instrumentation has opened up the opportunity to add measurements to increase reliability, improve energy efficiency, reduce emissions and increase overall safety.

Jonas Berge Director, Applied Technology

Jonas Berge
Director, Applied Technology

Beyond-Control-RoomEmerson’s Jonas Berge wrote a follow up article, Beyond the Control Room, to his earlier Control Engineering Asia article, Second Layer of Automation. I highlighted some excerpts from the Second Layer article in an earlier post, Business Critical Measurement Instrumentation-Second Layer of Automation.

In this Beyond the Control Room article, Jonas builds on how these extra measurements provide pervasive sensing to various groups across the plant:

Some of these measurements collected through pervasive sensing go to the operators in the control room for increased situational awareness, but most new information goes to personnel beyond the control room to the offices of the disciplines responsible for reliability and maintenance, energy efficiency, and health, safety, and environmental (HS&E).

The wireless sensor network can connect with several systems and software platforms: Continue Reading