Thursday, September 28, 2017

Flow battery standards take step forward at IFBF meeting

The 2017 International Flow Battery Forum (IFBF) covered a wide range of topics of relevance to the flow battery industry. Alongside the Forum, a related International Electrotechnical Commission technical committee meeting also took place. This discussed the ongoing development of important new standards for flow battery systems.

Patrick Jones, a Senior Engineer who helps manage NEL’s renewable energy test site at Myres Hill, attended the Forum and the meeting of the PEL/21 technical committee, which is responsible for the preparation of product standards for all secondary cells and batteries.

“I described my work on wind turbine metering and answered questions on accuracy and other issues,” says Patrick, whose expertise led to him being invited to attend the standards discussion. “I also took part in a joint standards working group looking at flow battery systems for stationary applications, as I have overseen the installation of such a battery system at our Myers Hill site, near Glasgow, for a South Korean company.”

The PEL/21 technical committee meeting involved people from many countries including China and Japan. Most were developers of the technology under discussion. The committee was specifically addressing the different aspects of the development of IEC 62932-2-1 ED1 - battery systems for stationary systems.

“Battery systems for stationary applications will help ensure the continuity of renewable energy supply,” Patrick explains. “By building energy storage into a system you can increase the penetration and uptake of renewable energy. The new standards that are being developed will underpin this work and will, for example, help project managers determine which battery technology to choose.”

The 2017 IFBF was held in June in Manchester, England. Over 200 delegates from 24 different countries representing more than 130 industrial companies, research and development institutions, universities and colleges attended the conference. Sessions included updates on developments in flow battery technology and materials and improvements in performance, manufacturing and commercialization.

“There were a wide range of speakers, poster presentations, and field visits,” says Patrick. “The international flavour of the conference was of particular interest to me, as was the range of technologies discussed. It will be interesting to see which will come through most successfully.”

For more details, contact Patrick Jones.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

New research highlights density standard concerns

New research has demonstrated that the API standard for calculating oil density at elevated pressures is significantly in error. The scope of this NEL research is now being expanded and it is hoped that the work will have significant benefits for industry and academia.

“Using our reference densitometer, we carried out a series of measurements of the density of refined oil at elevated pressure and compared our results with those that would be produced using API correction factors,” says Principal Consultant, Dr Norman Glen. “We concluded that, in situations where you need to know density to a high degree of accuracy and at elevated temperatures and pressures, using the API approach may lead to significant errors.”

“We are looking at how best to publicise our findings and at conducting a more extensive research programme that will encompass crude oils,” says Dr Glen, who adds that the widely-used API standard is generally fit for purpose when correcting over a small range of temperatures and pressures (e.g. a couple of degrees or bars).

The use of the new data from the NEL research has been shown to improve the uncertainty of determinations by a factor of ten. As a direct consequence, the mass flow rate uncertainty associated with NEL’s recently commissioned Elevated Pressure Oil Facility has been substantially reduced and there are expectations that the research will be of major benefit to NEL’s new Multiphase Centre of Excellence, which will operate at high pressures and temperatures, and its existing wet-gas facility.

For more details, contact Dr Norman Glen


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

EngD programme reaching second year milestone

The 10 research projects that are being carried out under NEL and Coventry University’s joint EngD programme are moving forward strongly and have already produced a number of interesting outputs.

“The initial group of students in the programme will soon be celebrating two years’ of study on their EngD course,” says Group Manager Lynn Hunter. “They are currently preparing for their yearly review meetings with their supervisor teams this month.

“The second tranche of researchers only started on the MRes programme in May,” Lynn adds, “so they have a long way to go. Come next May they will complete their first Progress Review Panel and transfer to the full EngD course. However, all of the researchers are progressing well with their work and are coming up with some interesting findings.”

The outputs from the research include poster presentations and a journal article. One of the researchers has presented a paper at a conference and is running a technology showcase day to promote the technology he is investigating.

“I’m hoping to finalise and submit my final thesis in the next year,” says Craig Marshall, one of the students in the first tranche of programme participants. Craig’s research aims to combine meter technologies to create a hybrid flow measurement device for high viscosity fluid applications that will maximise accuracy and minimise operational drawbacks.

As Craig’s work illustrates, all of the research being carried out under the EngD programme has a strong industry focus. Topics include the evaluation and improvement of pressure loss estimations, subsea flow assurance in oil and gas production, advancing wet gas flow measurement through the use of ultrasonic flow meters and developing a new approach for the detailed profiling of Coriolis meters.

The EngD programme, which takes a total of four years, is being delivered by in-house experts from Coventry University and NEL.

For more details, contact Lynn Hunter.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

New head of consultancy to enhance service offering

Flow Measurement expert Gilbert Tonner has returned from his posting in Southeast Asia to head up NEL’s consultancy team. He started his new position at the beginning of August.

“My role is to work with our team of consultants from all departments, to ensure that they provide the best possible service,” says Gilbert. “This is a great opportunity as they are a group of really committed individuals with a range of unique talents, experience and expertise. We will be building on NEL’s strong reputation as the consultant of choice for oil and gas metering and measurement.”

Gilbert will be working with his team to increase the recognition and prominence of NEL’s consultancy services, both to internal and external clients. His team will also be working to highlight the capabilities of the lab’s new and improved facilities, such as its Elevated Pressure and Temperature (EPAT) test unit.

Gilbert is developing a strategic plan for the development and growth of NEL’s consultancy arm. This will be rolled out over the next few months. Part of this plan will involve putting in place a personal development programme for consultants alongside a ‘toolkit’ which will bring all the software that the team are currently using into one system.

“We will be identifying the personal development and technical training requirements of each of our team to help them become customer-focused consultants who are at the cutting edge of developments in industry and research,” he explains. “To focus our work we will also be carrying out client perception surveys and audits with our internal and external clients.

Gilbert has had a long and successful career in the engineering industry. This included a Managing Directorship in a specialised Engineering Consultancy Company. The majority of his career has been focused on flow measurement, sampling and analysis in the oil and gas industry.

He has spent the last five years working in Southeast Asia, based in Kuala Lumpur, where he launched and developed NEL’s flow measurement consultancy service in the region.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Positive test feedback highlights professional and technical expertise

Meter testing work for a leading international manufacturer has resulted in excellent feedback and the commissioning of further work.

“I am proud to say that we received strong feedback this month from one of our key customers, Endress & Hauser,” says Principal Consultant, Dr Norman Glen. “The company has been working with us to test a meter from its Promass Q range in our density facility. Due to the success of this project, we have secured substantial future testing work from the client.”

“The company gave our team excellent satisfaction scores in all areas,” Norman explains. “It also provided the following summary comment: ‘Very professional staff and technical equipment’. Endress & Hauser has also submitted a paper to the North Sea Flow Measurement Workshop which incorporates our work.”

The testing involved characterising the density performance of the Proline Promass Q Coriolois flowmeter across an extended range of temperatures and pressures (the meter was tested across a range of temperatures from 10 – 100oC and at pressures up to 150 bar).

“Endress & Hauser came to us for a number of reasons,” Norman says. “The company claims that across the temperature range 20-60oC its meter can achieve an exceptional density measurement performance, with an uncertainty of 0.02%. They therefore required a facility with exceptional capabilities to test this.”

“We were also able to carry out a non-standard test that few other facilities can provide,” Norman adds. “This involved deliberately making the air round the meter a different temperature to the fluid passing through the meter. This was done to replicate real-world conditions in situations where significant temperature gradients are experienced, for example in Siberia or in a desert.”

Endress+Hauser is a global leader in measurement instrumentation, services and solutions for industrial process engineering. Its Promass Q Coriolis flowmeters have been developed to provide high accuracy levels in real world conditions, for applications in the oil and gas and food industries.

For more details, contact Norman Glen.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Gas Flow Test Facility upgrade provides firm foundations for future developments

The upgrade of the in-line blower system that is a key part of NEL’s National Standard Gas Flow Test Facility was completed at the end of August. BEIS Flow Programme Funding was used to fund this aspect of the facility revamp, which aims to keep NEL at the cutting edge of flow-metering research and testing.

“The work on the in-line blower system has improved its performance, streamlined its maintenance and increased its long-term operational life,” says Muir Porter, NEL’s Business Manager. “The revamp will extend our operating capability in line with future requirements. It is expected that, due to the improvements that have been made, dry gas volumes may be increased beyond 2,200 m3/hr.”

The dry and wet gas facility’s in-line blower system is a bespoke part of the test facility and provides the driving force that circulates gas through the system. It comprises an encapsulated drive motor and in-line centrifugal fan within a pressure vessel, and is controlled using with variable speed drive.

The operational efficiency of the re-vamped blower has been significantly improved thanks to new hi-efficiency drives and low-maintenance, heavy-duty bearings. These enhancements will increase service reliability and improve test completion times for both research projects and NEL’s customers.

“The blower was an aging item of plant,” explains Muir. “It required downtime every two hundred hours of service to re-grease the bearings. This was a constraint on the operating envelope of the test facility.”

“Rather than replace it with a new bespoke unit,” Muir explains. “It was decided to commission the original manufacturer to replace and improve relevant parts. This was by far the most cost-effective route.

NEL’s Gas flow testing facility is the UK’s only independent commercial test centre that can generate wet gas flows using water and oil simultaneously. As it more accurately replicates the real-world conditions faced by industry, it reduces the uncertainty and financial exposure that operators experience.

For more details, contact Muir Porter.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

LiDAR system helping the States of Guernsey to plot its path to a renewable energy future

A LiDAR remote sensing unit supplied by NEL is providing a practical and cost-effective way for the States of Guernsey to obtain reliable recordings of its coastal wind resources.

“Our equipment and support will help policy makers in Guernsey determine the renewable power generation and supply route they will go down in the future,” explains Leon Youngs, Business Leader for Mobile Testing Services. “This link-up was made possible through contacts within Exeter University, which is also involved in the project.”

The LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) unit is being deployed by the States of Guernsey Renewable Energy Team (RET) at Chouet Headland alongside an existing anemometer, which has been monitoring wind speed since 2012. The project is part of RET’s continuing investigation into Guernsey’s local wind resources.

NEL is supplying the LiDAR system to RET through a two-year rental agreement. NEL is also providing technical support to ensure the accuracy of the data that is collected. This is being done alongside the manufacturer, Zephir.

The LiDAR unit, which operates by sending out a beam of light and measuring the frequency shift of the backscattered light, will allow wind speeds to be measured at a number of heights above the ground.

The LiDAR unit will be on site for a period of two years. It was deployed in August by Exeter University, following a student project to design and build a renewable energy and battery storage power unit for the system. This will supply 100% of the power requirements of the LiDAR, allowing the unit to be completely off-grid.

For more details, contact Leon Youngs.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

First ever joint OGA & OGTC Industry Technology Forum highlights North Sea developments

In August the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) and the Oil & Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) joined forces to host a new industry forum which highlighted how technology can advance and significantly lower the life-cycle cost of North Sea field developments.

“We were very excited to exhibit at the event and we met with a number of very interesting delegates over the day,” says Head of Sales, Andrew Fisher. “We now have a number of areas to follow up, including one significant business opportunity."

The Technology Forum, held at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC), focused on unlocking the UK’s remaining resources, particularly the future oil and gas developments being offered in the recently launched 30th Offshore Licensing Round. The OGTC also discussed its ongoing projects and the opportunities to fund and support the development and deployment of new technology for the North Sea.

“It was particularly interesting to hear about the acreage and opportunities available in the 30th licensing round,” says Andrew. “800 blocks are on offer with a total area of about 100,000 km2. The OGA is keen to promote the viability of the fields and to encourage interest. In the scoring for the submissions, the technology that will be used will be important. The OGTC is also offering tech support for the development of “small pools”, an area where it is aiming to cut capex requirements in half.”

The Forum brought together operators, prospective investors and technology developers to meet and share knowledge on the latest developments in seismic, well construction, subsea tie-backs and standalone facilities.

“A number of industry case studies highlighted the benefits of reusable technology and there were some interesting talks on sub-sea issues,” says Andrew. “These included robotics and nano-technology, well-mapping technology and an asset stewardship taskforce being run by Chevron, BP, Shell and Statoil.

More than 300 people attended keynote presentation sessions and participated in the technology Forum. Participants included over 35 exhibitors from SMEs to major service providers including PGS, Baker Hughes, a GE company, Amplus and Western Geco, showcasing innovative solutions, expertise and insights in the technology arena.

For more details, contact Andrew Fisher.


Wednesday, September 06, 2017

NEL starts build of £16 million Subsea Centre of Excellence


NEL has commenced the build of its £16 million Centre of Excellence (CoE) for subsea development. The new high pressure multiphase flow test facility will have the largest test range in the world, positioning Scotland as a world leader in multiphase flow measurement.

The CoE will allow a greater understanding of the impact of higher operating pressures on measurement equipment in extreme subsea environments. The testing range of the new facility includes single-phase, multiphase and dry gas, at operating pressures up to 150 bar - doubling current existing capabilities to replicate subsea production conditions. Its range and combination of operating pressures, temperatures, flowrates and metrology will be unique worldwide.

The new CoE building will span 1,600 m2, and contain a £1.45 million, full production scale separator, with an operating weight of 270 tonnes.

Focussed predominantly on the £50billion per annum global subsea sector, the CoE will facilitate company-led industrial projects and product development, SME support, hands-on industry training, and academic research. The centre will future proof the delivery of innovative technical services to the oil & gas production market for the next 25 years.

Brian Millington, NEL’s Managing Director, said: “The investment in the CoE marks a significantly positive step for the global oil & gas sector.   This new world-leading facility will support the industry to address the crucial goal of maximising economic recovery and reducing fiscal uncertainty. Once complete, NEL will be operating the only facility to offer the full range of flow rates and high pressure capabilities.

"Starting the building work for the CoE brings to life our mission to help industry optimise all aspects of production through accurate measurement, while supporting Scotland’s international standing within the global oil and gas sector,” concluded Millington.

Scottish Enterprise has supported the development of the Centre with £4.9 million of research and development funding.

Managing Director of Strategy and Sectors at Scottish Enterprise, Linda Hanna, said: “This is a fantastic milestone in the Centre’s development. It will enable Scotland to maximise its competitiveness in multi-phase flow measurement, and support the sector to take further advantage of opportunities in the £50 billion global subsea market, identified in Scottish Enterprise’s Subsea Engineering Action Plan. NEL is an ambitious and forward thinking organisation and we are delighted to be working closely with them to support their plans for future growth.”

NEL’s parent company, TÜV SÜD AG is investing £11.1 million, alongside the grant from Scottish Enterprise. The project marks the largest capital investment to date in the company’s UK business.

For more information, contact Marietta Hughes


MeterVue adds class-leading video functionality

Commercial users of the MeterVue system are now able to remotely view live video of calibrations and other projects. This improvement is part of NEL’s continual push to improve the services it supplies as part of its role as a one of the National Measurement System laboratories.

“This will further enhance the cost and time-saving benefits that the system brings,” says Phil Mark, NEL’s Group Manager for Testing Services, who explains that the new function was developed in response to feedback from meter manufacturers which showed that there was a real demand for this type of functionality.

“This is an exciting new development for us and for our clients,” Phil adds. “The new system has been rigorously tested and has proved to be very effective. Not only will remote users be able to see what’s going on in real time, they will also be able to ask for the video to be focused on particular aspects of a calibration, giving them full control of what they see.”

One example of how the new system can be used relates to the Perspex viewing section that is often installed in the pipe upstream of meter that is under test. A video stream of the view through such a window will allow a technician to remotely check if fluid flow patterns are as expected, they can then request any necessary changes to be made in real time.

“Another example,” Phil explains, “is a situation where a customer is bringing in a third party (for example, a certification body) to check or witness a process. The new functionality offers the potential for all this work to be done remotely, saving time and money for all parties involved. All without any reduction in the level of technical integrity the system offers.”

To access the new functionality users log into the MeterVue system as usual. They then see the video feed on their computer monitor.

MeterVue has been in operation at NEL since 2013. It is designed for multi-company, multi-group and multi-user applications. Meter performance may be assessed and flagged against pre-set criteria. Trending between calibrations can also be analysed. In addition, comparisons with pre-set criteria can be performed.

For more details, contact Phil Mark.


Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Registration open for 2017 North Sea Flow Measurement Workshop

The 35th North Sea Flow Measurement Workshop 2017 is due to take place in Tønsberg in Norway, this October. The main focus of this globally important conference is the practical application of flow measurement technology.

“For the last 35 years this workshop has been a very important event for people in the industry,” says Anne Farr, who is part of the Flow Measurement Institute. “It is a great place to network, explore career opportunities, learn about the latest technology developments and share experiences and expertise.”

Organised by Tekna, the workshop attracts delegates from all around the world who are interested in accurate flow measurement. Participants include oil and gas operators, regulators, engineering contractors, service companies, manufacturers and research institutions.

The four-day event includes presentations and discussions on the latest metering technology. Around 30 exhibitors will also be showcasing their newest technology. The 2017 program addresses key issues and drivers, such as the new economic realities that industry is facing, the challenge of reducing cost, uncertainty and environmental pressures.

Flow Measurement Consultant Craig Marshall, is just one of a number of NEL experts who will be attending and presenting at the event. He is part of the workshop’s technical committee and will be chairing a session on gas flow.

“Accurate gas flow measurement is vitally important for the trading of sales quality gas throughout Europe,” says Craig. “The session I am chairing will focus on some commonly used technologies as well as recent changes to standards.”

Other NEL participants include, Bruno Pinguet, who will be giving a lecture on the use of multiphase flow meters and Emmelyn Graham, who will be discussing installation effects on venturi tubes in wet-gas flow conditions and Terri Leonard who is presenting research about multiphase flow pattern prediction methods.

Workshop sessions will cover issues such as multiphase flow, oil quality, oil flow, virtual flow metering, wet gas, gas quality, allocation and quality control and gas flow. Poster sessions will highlight issues such as fiscal metering, multiphase flow and wet gas meters.

More Information and Registration


Monday, September 04, 2017

Analysis for Innovators research applies flow modelling expertise to cutting-edge medicine

An innovative new project will apply NEL’s expertise in flow modelling to a ground-breaking device designed to help doctors assess the health of many of the body’s major organs. The project has the support of Analysis for Innovators, a government funded programme run by Innovate UK.

“NEL is working with the company behind the system, Gold Standard Phantoms, and alongside the National Physical Laboratory,” says Principal Consultant, Dr Norman Glen. “Our input will facilitate the development of the system and its certification as an important new medical device.”

Gold Standard Phantoms (GSP) is developing a unique ‘phantom’ device that simulates the process of perfusion. Perfusion is the rate of delivery of arterial blood to an organ, and is a useful biomarker of health and disease in the brain, liver, heart and kidneys. It is of clinical importance for the assessment of dementia, strokes, cerebrovascular disease and cancer.

The company’s system can be used to assess the variability and linearity of perfusion measurements made with an MRI scanner using an approach known as Arterial Spin Labelling (ASL). This is an approach that can be repeated without risk for the patient, however, due to the lack of a standard with which to validate and calibrate such a measurement, ASL has not yet seen major clinical uptake, despite its advantages over other currently used techniques. GSP’s device aims to address this challenge.

To bring its device to market, GSP needs to fully understand how to account for all of the uncertainties in the physical phantom, and in the flow model it has developed for the phantom’s operation. To help provide this understanding, NEL will validate the current fluid mechanics sub-model, reviewing the assumptions made and quantifying their impacts. It will also cross-validate findings with its own CFD package and assist with the tuning of GSP's CFD model using real-world measurements.

The Analysis for Innovators programme is a one-off scheme offering R&D, expertise and facilities (worth up to £6.5 million) to UK companies that want to solve an analysis or measurement problem from within their existing business. It is a Government funded programme run by Innovate UK.

For more details, contact Norman Glen


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NEL is a world class provider of technical consulting, research, measurement, testing and programme management services to clients across many industries including oil & gas, renewable and sustainable energy, process and government.

NEL also holds the UK National Standards for flow measurement and has an international reputation in key engineering areas such as flow measurement, computational fluid dynamics, environmental and thermal engineering.

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