Achieving and then maintaining efficient operations always has posed challenges for chemical plants. Today, concerns about the cost and availability of feedstocks, energy and water, as well as initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and boost sustainability add even greater complexity to the task. Fortunately, plants don't have to grapple with the challenges alone. Vendors continue to introduce innovative offerings that address key issues. This year's Vaaler Awards honor four noteworthy products.
Biennially since 1964, Chemical Processing has bestowed Vaaler Awards on products and services that can significantly improve plant operations and economics. To be eligible for one of this year's awards, a product or service must have been commercialized the United States between May 2009 and June 2011.
The awards are named in honor of John C. Vaaler, editor in chief of Chemical Processing from 1946 to 1961, and chairman of the magazine's editorial board from 1961 until his death in 1963.
Chemical Processing's Editorial Board, which consists of technical professionals with diverse responsibilities and from a variety of industry sectors (see sidebar) assessed 14 entries for technical significance, novelty or uniqueness, and breadth of applicability. This impartial group didn't have to bestow any awards but decided to recognize four products:
• Rosemount 3051S electronic remote sensor (ERS) system from Emerson Process Management;
• LED Ex Luminaire Series 55-EX from L. J. Star;
• 1622 Low Emissions Valve Packing from A. W. Chesterton; and
• ValveLink Mobile software from Emerson Process Management.
Sensor System Obviates Impulse Piping
The Rosemount 3051S ERS system, released in January 2011, is industry's first digital differential-pressure (DP) level architecture. The system, underpinned by more than ten patents, replaces mechanical impulse piping with two 3051S pressure sensors linked together electronically. One of the sensors calculates the differential pressure and transmits the value via a standard two-wire 4–20-mA HART signal. This electronic architecture eliminates temperature-induced measurement drift, improves time response, eases installation and provides multivariable capabilities that can lead to greater process insight.
The ERS technology offers a number of important advantages over traditional installations with extensive impulse piping and capillary. The system provides stable and repeatable measurements while cutting time response by more than 90%. Electrical wire between sensors easily can be installed through floor grates and around hazards. The system obviates heat tracing and purge systems, and the inspections for leaks, plugging, etc. required for impulse lines. Each sensor can be independently serviced and replaced for reduced process downtime. Besides the DP measurement, pressure, including static pressure, read by each sensor can be monitored in real-time.
Moreover, these benefits come without the need to learn new technology. The 3051S system is simply a digital upgrade to proven and well-understood DP level technology
The 3051S ERS system, termed a best practice technology for tall vessels and towers, already has been used with success on various applications, including holding tanks, reactors, distillation columns and fermentation vessels. The technology can be installed on applications that previously weren't feasible because of recurring performance or maintenance issues.
Luminaire Puts Hazardous Environments in New Light