Friday, 25 March 2016

Industrial Effluent Treatment Plant Troubleshooting : Consent Breaches

We have a had quite a few enquiries recently from the owners of industrial effluent treatment plants which are failing to meet the Environment Agency's Consent to Discharge, and I'm going to site to look at one next week.

The Environment Agency tend to exercise discretion and work with the owners of inadequate effluent treatment plants, rather than applying the letter of the law, in a way which has in my past experience allowed confusion on the part of treatment plant owners.

Consents to discharge of treated trade effluent are absolute, which means that a single discharge of effluent above consented concentrations or flows is a criminal offence. If your industrial effluent treatment plant breaches consent once, you have broken the law. You should find out why it happened, and try to avoid it happening again.

I commonly see the situation in which breaches have become fairly commonplace. In everyday life, things not working occasionally might be OK, but occasional failures in an industrial effluent treatment point to a problem with the main process which the effluent plant serves, or a problem with the plant itself.

The design of industrial effluent treatment plant is intimately linked with reliability. As such a plant treats a highly variable flow of effluent with a wide variation in contaminants, its designer will have based its design on a number of scenarios, each with associated probabilities.

So, though discharge consents are absolute, plant design is probabilistic. Designing a plant to handle the 99% confidence interval conditions costs a great deal more than designing one to the 95% confidence interval conditions.

It is possible for plants which meet a minimum specification or standard (such as for example EN12566-3 2005 for domestic package plants) to have wildly varying capacities and performance, depending on the cautiousness of their designers.

Any failure to meet consent in industrial or domestic effluent treatment plants should be a wakeup call. More than one failure, and it's definitely time to call in an expert. By expert, I mean professional engineer. Too expensive? There's no such thing as a cheap engineer, as these case studies show.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Process Plant Layout and 3D CAD

I have finished the text of my book on process plant layout. One of the things I needed to get to the bottom of was which 3D CAD program was the best.

In essence, they are all best at something, though they are broadly similar in their abilities. A summary of comments from experts in the field suggests that the 3D CAD software most frequently used is generally as follows: 

Small/medium projects: Autodesk Plant 3D or Intergraph Cadworx

Medium/large projects: Aveva PDMS or E3D; Bentley OpenPlant and AutoPLANT; Autodesk Plant3D; Intergraph CADWorx

Large projects: Intergraph SmartPlant3D; Aveva PDMS and E3D; Cadmatic; TriCAD MS; 

Suitability also varies by industry sector and layout designer discipline, amongst other things. 

Friday, 11 March 2016

Process Design Training Courses

I've been talking to people this week about giving our new process plant design course based on my last book in Africa and elsewhere overseas, and getting it IChemE accredited.

The book has sold well, and has already beaten its sales targets by a large margin, so the publisher is happy.

My latest book on process plant layout is nearing completion, and I have put in a proposal to the publisher for the next one (on water and effluent treatment plant design).

I still have a couple of troubleshooting jobs on the books, and I got an enquiry this week for another one.

Pleasantly busy...  

Friday, 4 March 2016

Process Engineering Training Courses

Despite the lull in training contracts caused by the knock-on effects of the oil price crash, we are hoping to be delivering some training courses in the Gulf region next month, on more general process engineering subjects than usual.

As well as our long-standing "Chemical Engineering for Non Chemical Engineers" course, we are looking to deliver a new course based on my book " An Applied Guide to Process and Plant Design"