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ISA Analysis Division Symposium 2016: trends in analysis and flow

Article ISA Symposium, Hans and Humberto

Recently, in Galveston, Texas the ISA Analysis Division Symposium was organized as part of the International Society of Automation. Specialists gather annually at the symposium to discuss innovative developments in the world of industrial analysis. Plant IT en engineering specialist, Hint sent Hans van Maanen, consultant, and Humberto Ribera, Business Development Manager for the Americas. Here they report on the symposium and the trends being discussed in the field of analysis.


Hans van Maanen was one of the speakers in Galveston. His presentation focused on the flow measurement and analysis of LNG, which is a relatively new field where there is still much to discover. Van Maanen: “With LNG, both flow measurement and analysis play a role. In Galveston I focused my presention more on the analysis side. The growth of LNG creates new ‘challenges’ in its measurement and analysis. When it comes to traditional products such as oil, this is quite simple. With LNG, unfortunately, it’s not. When loading LNG onto and off of a ship you would like to know both the amount, and the composition. That’s because the value of the gas is coupled with its calorific value which is determined by the composition.”

Composition of LNG
When transporting LNG things happen with the matter and that affects its composition: “The composition of LNG is not constant. This is inter alia determined by the location where the gas comes from. In addition, some LNG evaporates during transport. Lighter components evaporate the easiest, so that the composition is different upon arrival at the port than on departure. In addition, the composition is not homogeneous. In order to overcome this, you will have to measure constantly during unloading in order to reliably determine the calorific value.”

Combining Analysis and Flow
LNG is transported at a temperature of -162 degrees Celsius. The meters that are normally used, behave differently at that temperature than at room temperature. Van Maanen has ideas about how to solve the issue, “Optical techniques can ensure that measurements of LNG are reliable, but they need to be developed. At Hint we have great ideas for which we are still are seeking partners. We must combine our knowledge to find solutions. Especially in the area of analysis I see that there are many techniques being worked on. At this moment there is still a particular interest in composition. On the flow side, there is even less knowledge available. At Hint we have experts in both areas: analysis and flow. You don’t see that combination of knowledge often. This makes sense since the problems we encounter when measuring LNG have occurred relatively recently. For the LNG market what is really needed is the ability to take into account both areas.”

Preventative Maintenance
Besides the uncharted territory of LNG, there were other issues currently concerning the industry. Preventive maintenance is one that is gaining attention in the US, according to Humberto Ribera. “In Galveston, we attempted to share our vision of preventive maintenance with the American industry. It’s a holistic view of the system as a whole rather than the individual components. I think there is definitely a need for it, but often people do not know what can already be done in the field of automation and maintenance. It can provide many companies cost savings with efficient planning of maintenance actions based on historical data.”

Sample Preparation is more Important than Analysis
“Another topic of discussion I found interesting was sample preparation. Nowadays, sample-preparation is more important than the analysis itself. The analysis itself is done using proven technology, but the transport of the sample to the analyzer can ruin the outcome significantly. The duration of the substance through a pipe produces delays. In addition, all kinds of things can happen in a pipe. The various components selectively absorb and then disrupt a sample. This is something that was not taken into account in the past, but which now receives more attention,” said Ribera.

Virtual Analyzers Provide Systematic Errors
A technology that is viewed with suspicion by Hans van Maanen is that of the virtual analyzers. Van Maanen: “There is much interest in virtual analyzers at this time. I get that. Virtual techniques can work without “devices” and can therefore not break. I just believe that this method of measurement is not reliable enough. On the one hand, results are based on a historical database. That means you need to measure for a long time to virtualize. On the other hand, the virtual analysis relies on the assumption that a system does not change over the years. And that’s not right. This results in systematic errors. And, in my opinion, there is nothing worse than that! “