The delivery of nitrogen by truck is not always reliable and very cost-intensive. Without sufficient nitrogen, the worst-case scenario is a production stoppage at the refinery. The Russian operators were therefore seeking more autonomy from unreliable and volatile nitrogen sources. At the same time, they were keen to cut down on costs and make the production process more dependable with an independent supply of nitrogen. Inmatec provided the Russian refinery with the means to produce nitrogen itself on site using its own nitrogen generators.
Thanks to Inmatec’s sophisticated PAN (Power As Needed) technology, N2 can be recovered from ambient air on demand and used directly in the refinery. The PN PAN 48 000 generator has a nitrogen capacity of 250 to 2500 Nm3/h and allows purity settings of up to 99.95 % by remote control. The system measures 8.5 x 7.8 x 5 m.
Nitrogen’s role in the refinery
Nitrogen is used in the Russian oil and gas refinery for flushing the head-space in oil tanks, thus eliminating fire and explosion hazards. Naturally, the more oil is removed from the storage tanks, the lower the oil level in the oil tank. The head-space in the oil tank must therefore simultaneously be rendered inert with N2 in order to minimise the risk of ignition.
Nitrogen is also used for explosion prevention when the tanks are cleaned every five years. When oil is stored in tanks, slag settles on the bottom over time. The effectiveness of the tanks decreases as a result because the slag occupies some of the storage space. Detergents are used to dissolve this slag and restore the storage capacity to 100 %. To ensure that there is also no danger of explosion during this process, the resulting empty space in the tank is filled with nitrogen.
The customer uses an additional quantity of self-generated N2 to blanket the mechanical seal in a turbo compressor. This compressor is used to increase the pressure of the natural gas to 55 bar, so that it can be transported via pipelines. During inspections,
the nitrogen pressure is increased to over 100 bar to enable any leaks in the pipes to be detected.
Parallel to the production, transport and safeguarding of oil and gas, any pipes that are not in use in the refinery’s internal pipeline network are rendered inert with nitrogen and tested at different pressures in order to prevent damage and production stoppages before they have a chance to occur. A platform allows easy servicing of the plant for this purpose.
Inmatec applied its modular PAN-PSA plant technology to facilitate all these different nitrogen-based processes, applications and pressure conditions while at the same time ensuring 100 % system reliability for a single customer.
PAN (Power As Needed) technology provides an on-demand, energy-optimised supply of nitrogen with up to 6.0/1.0 ppm purity (residual oxygen) in quantities of 0.5 to 16 000 Nm3/h. It is thus highly efficient and enables cost savings of up to 60 % for the customer.
Inmatec PSA nitrogen generators are distinguished by their ability to produce high-purity and ultra-pure N2. The clean compressed air flows through CMS-filled adsorption vessels; as the pressure changes, high-quality activated carbon binds the oxygen molecules while the free nitrogen molecules flow into the product tank. During this generation process, carbon dioxide molecules are removed in addition to the oxygen molecules. The dry and high-purity nitrogen can then be used for a wide range of applications.
The modular design of the adsorption vessels, the so-called “Twin Tower”, also makes it possible to shut down unused nitrogen production capacity completely or simply for inspection purposes. The Inmatec Twin Tower system gives the customer the greatest possible flexibility when it comes to daily use of the nitrogen generator.
Industry 4.0 networking
Inmatec nitrogen and oxygen systems are equipped with the latest remote control technology. All functions and parameters of the company’s nitrogen or oxygen generators are monitored via the web portal. The Inmatec web service is connected to the generator online and can access its systems directly as needed or for servicing. The service team is able to access the generator via remote control within a maximum of
60 minutes, 365 days a year, thereby avoiding production downtime.
The Remote Monitoring Box (RMB) allows all critical production data from the generators to be recorded and stored. The RMB guarantees continuous documentation and control while drastically reducing resource and energy usage, not to mention service costs. The collected data is used for analyses and algorithms to provide forecasts and recommendations.
The web service can be retrofitted to any Inmatec nitrogen or oxygen generator at any time for increased safety and convenience with a commercial advantage.