Tuesday, October 31, 2017

PPDS consultation helps inform software development roadmap

Over the past month, Senior Flow Consultant, Konrad Kuczynski has been meeting representatives from a wide range of companies to discuss NEL’s innovative PPDS software. This system is currently used by many leading companies to determine the physical properties of fluids. The feedback Konrad has received will help with the planned development of the software system.

“It was exciting to see the diverse ways in which the system is being used and I am pleased with the very positive feedback we received,” says Konrad. “Overall, the consultation has given us an excellent understanding of what the market wants and allowed us to focus our development work. We will be incorporating the points that have been raised and hope to roll out key improvements to the PPDS system in the first quarter of 2018.”

Among the enhancements that are being considered as part of the PPDS development road map are enhancements to the system’s Windows 10 interface and to its SQL server module, DIPPR database import and Intranet server. Plans are also in place to update the Pure Components databank and to add new petroleum fractions and new functionality for the upstream oil market.

Konrad found that many users were not aware of the system’s full capabilities and that it could already do the things they wanted it to do.

“As a result, we have delivered some enhanced training to allow clients to harness the full power of the system,” says Konrad. “We have also made some immediate changes for some users, for example, fine-tuning the user interface to meet specific client needs.”

The PPDS suite of software packages and databases draws on more than 30 years of fluid physical properties research at NEL. Regularly updated and enhanced, it provides quality-assured physical properties of fluid data (numeric values with associated uncertainties) on more than 1,500 chemicals for a wide range of process engineering applications.

Another boost to NEL’s PPDS section occurred in mid-October when it successfully passed its LRQA audit. LRQA is a world leading, independent provider of Business Assurance services.

For more information, contact Konrad Kuczynski


Monday, October 30, 2017

Myres Hill provides ideal wind conditions for Italian turbine test

A new wind turbine design from Italian company Tozzi Green is being tested at NEL’s Myers Hill site near East Kilbride. The research, which started in October, will continue for at least six months. Tozzi Green hopes that the tests will help the company break into the Japanese renewable energy market, where interest in wind power is growing, following the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

“This is the first time we have tested an Italian turbine,” says Leon Youngs, Business Leader for Mobile Testing Services. “We are conducting a full I.E.C. (International Electrotechnical Commission) test programme, that will cover the turbine’s acoustic, power and safety performance and its durability. The client will get monthly reports charting progress with the testing schedule.  They will also receive reports as we complete each main part of the test.”

According to Leon, Tozzi Green chose NEL to conduct the tests because the Myres Hill test site is almost unique in Europe in terms of the range of challenging weather conditions it provides. This is vital as the turbine must experience sustained winds of various speeds and high peak levels. The site also offers excellent security.

“The client plans to take our test reports to Japan and obtain ClassNK certification,” explains Leon. “This will allow them to sell directly into the Japanese market.”

The turbine under test is a three-blade, 20 kW design, that is marketed under the name Victory 20. It is of a type that can take advantage of the highest level of Japan’s feed-in tariff for renewable energy. According to the manufacturers, it offers exceptional levels of safety and silent operation. The turbine has active pitch control which optimises turbine performance, even under the most extreme operating conditions, thus reducing wind load on the blades and acting as an emergency brake.

Tozzi Green is a company that specialises in the generation of energy from renewable sources. It is an offshoot of Tozzi, which works in the Oil & Gas, Petrochemical and Energy fields.

For more details, contact Leon Youngs.


Monday, October 23, 2017

EURAMET meeting lays groundwork for Multiphase research network

A EURAMET workshop on European Metrology Networks has highlighted the potential of a multiphase flow measurement network to co-ordinate research at a high level across Europe.

“The proposed research network would be set up to coordinate research efforts and remove any duplication,” says Flow Measurement Engineer, Emmelyn Graham who represented NEL at the meeting. “It would ensure that there is a coordinated approach to multiphase research and would help meet the needs of all stakeholders in this sector.”

“There is a lot of interest and some very positive discussions with the coordinators of Metrology Institutes from across Europe” says Emmelyn, “and it leads on from a current EURAMET multiphase flow metrology project. It is expected that NEL would lead the network if it is set up, due to our knowledge and strength in this area.”

According to Emmelyn, there is a funding call in January and a submission on the project is planned.

The overall aim of the EURAMET workshop, which took place at the beginning of October in Berlin at PTB (The National Metrology Institute of Germany), was to discuss the concept of European Metrology Networks (EMNs), to highlight potential benefits and to discuss potential network examples. Among the networks discussed were those for Chemistry, Biochemistry, Mathematics and Statistics. Actions planned to support some of the pilot EMNs were also presented.

EURAMET is the European Association of National Metrology Institutes. Its mission is to develop and disseminate an integrated, cost effective and internationally competitive measurement infrastructure for Europe.

For more details, contact Emmelyn Graham


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The value of 2017 projects already exceeds 2016’s total.

Success across several recent funding bids and commercial contracts has meant that, as of end of July 2017, NEL had already exceeded last year’s performance in terms of the value of projects underway.

“This is great news,” says Head of Sales & Marketing Andrew Fisher. “There has been significant investment in multiphase research recently and the wider business is going well too.”

As UK experts on flow measurement, NEL has had success securing research funding under the European Metrology Programme for Innovation and Research (EMPIR). The NEL team has also won significant funding from the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).

“Funding success has given us a strong foundation of work for 2017,” says Alison Crawford, NEL’s financial Controller. “Although underlying conditions are still challenging, we have a strong order book and lots of interesting projects in the pipeline.”

Current research projects focus on issues that will bring significant benefits to business, such as the roll out of greener vehicle fuel options. NEL is also involved in the development of measurement harmonisation between multiphase flow metrology testing facilities. The projects dovetail nicely with the £16-million investment NEL is making in new facilities and with its on-going Flow Programme work.

To further drive NEL’s business development, Thomas McCudden has recently joined the organisation.  “My role will be Global Business Development Manager,” Thomas says. “I will be helping to develop new clients, build new relationships and ultimately win new business for NEL.”

Before joining NEL, Thomas was responsible for developing a successful sales strategy for subsea technology for global deepwater projects within the oil and gas sector.

For more details, contact Thomas McCudden.


Monday, October 16, 2017

NMS annual report highlights importance of measurement to industry

The National Measurement System (NMS) annual review has just been published. The NMS constitutes the UK’s core infrastructure of measurement laboratories and includes NEL.

“I would recommend this report to anyone interested in how measurement research can benefit business,” says Brian Millington, NEL’s Managing Director. “It underlines the importance of the work that we, and all of the other members of the NMS, are doing.”

“The use of good measurement practice is proven,” the report notes. “A recent study found clear evidence that companies who use NMS services have higher survival rates and support from the NMS can boost employment by 10% - 15% within two to four years; with an average cost to the state of £18k to £23k per job.”

Some of the worked profiled in the report has involved NEL directly. This includes the development of a national high-pressure flow standard and the work of the Flow Measurement Institute, which has published a comprehensive assessment of research requirements for the next 10 years. NEL has also benefitted from the Analysis for Innovators Scheme, which was launched in partnership with Innovate UK and the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

Overall, the report notes that the NMS laboratories have delivered 437 different measurement services to over 731 different customers. NMS researchers have had 337 papers in peer reviewed journals, and received 43 notable awards and appointments. NMS laboratories have also maintained 445 active academic partnerships to deliver key priorities.

In addition, the NMS has represented UK interests in over 300 standards committees to ensure the UK can successfully compete globally. It also trained 1,189 people in 2016, with the 10,000th student passing through its dimensional measurement training programme.

The report also notes that, in the last year, an independent International Science Review assessed the quality and relevance of the science output of the larger NMS laboratories. The Review Panel concluded that all the NMS science areas perform at an internationally-competitive level.

Download the report


Thursday, October 12, 2017

NEL Makes Further Investment in High Capacity Wet Gas Test Facility


NEL, the flow measurement R&D specialist, has invested £200,000 in further development of its Glasgow-based Wet Gas flow testing facility, as part of a continual programme to deliver industry-leading test facilities.

NEL’s Glasgow laboratory is the UK’s only independent commercial facility that can generate wet gas flows using water and oil simultaneously. As it more accurately replicates the real-world conditions faced by industry, uncertainty is reduced and operators’ financial exposure minimised.

This significant investment in bespoke equipment at the Wet Gas Facility will reduce maintenance time, improve flow rates and optimise control of test points - increasing service reliability and improving test completion times for NEL’s customers. In response to increasing industry demand for testing wet gas flows with simultaneous oil and water loading, the facility is capable of dry gas flowrates exceeding 2,000 m3 per hour, in pressures up to 63 bar, alongside simultaneous water and oil injection rates of 90 m3 per hour.

NEL has also launched a Joint Industry Project (JIP), inviting partners to work together to review and drive advancements in wet-gas sampling, and reduce uncertainties. The JIP will address challenges caused by the large volume of gas compared to the very small amounts of liquid present in wet gas flow.

Muir Porter, Group Manager at NEL, said: “This upgrade is part of our continued commitment to help our customers meet growing pressure to remain competitive by minimising test times, while optimising uncertainty of measurement. Using our facility, manufacturers can test meters more accurately and quickly, while operators are assured of independent validation and calibration before they embark on the costly process of installing flow meters.”

The move to subsea production and processing has necessitated the introduction of higher capacity flow meters. Along with the drive to reduce the cost of production through the use of shared facilities, this has generated increased demand for more accurate wet gas metering. NEL’s Wet Gas Facility has been designed to more accurately replicate such increased flowrates, to meet both operator and equipment vendors’ demands for an independent facility for development, verification and validation purposes. 

The Wet Gas Facility upgrade forms part of NEL’s strategic direction to make it the facility of choice for both vendors and operators, supporting the development and verification of instruments for multiphase and wet gas flows. NEL’s Flow Measurement Facilities are the primary flow measurement standard for the UK, under the UK’s National Measurement System (NMS).

For further information please contact Marietta Hughes.


Technology demonstration brings new calibration system a step closer to market

Potential business partners got the chance to see an innovative new calibration system in action at a technology demonstration event which took place over two days at the end of September. The event was supported by the Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) and attracted 35 participants.

“We gave presentations on the new system and its method of operation was explained,” says Flow Measurement Consultant Craig Marshall, who has developed the system as part of the engineering doctorate he is carrying out with Coventry University. “Participants also had a tour of our facilities and got an opportunity to see the system in action and to observe real-time data being processed.”

The new calibration system has been developed to help support the measurement of heavy oil and will improve the accuracy of differential pressure meters. It is specific for meters in single phase flow conditions that are characterised by low Reynolds numbers. It is capable of measuring flow, density, viscosity and Reynolds number in real-time.

“People were very interested in the system,” says Craig. “As a result, I have meetings arranged to progress partnerships for taking the device to market. There is still development work to be done to get to a commercial end product, but I am confident that with the support of industry we will all meet our goals.”

Participants at the demonstration event included representatives from companies and organisations that could be end users of the new system and from a number of meter manufacturers. Various academic groups also came to the event, including researchers from the universities of Coventry, Strathclyde and the West of Scotland.

The event was a development of work that Craig has been undertaking during 2017 to research the commercialisation of the new calibration system. This work received an ICURe (Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research) innovation grant of £35k.

For more details, contact Craig Marshall.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Offshore Europe helps spread word about new developments

The recent SPE Offshore Europe conference provided an effective opportunity to raise NEL’s profile and to spread the news about progress on our new Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Subsea Development.

“The Conference was full of people keen to put the recent downturn behind them and there was a great deal of discussion about cost-efficiencies, new technology and new ways of working and collaborating,” says Head of Sales & Marketing Andrew Fisher. “For us, one of the key moments at the conference was when Paul Wheelhouse, MSP and Scottish Government Minister for Business and Innovation, visited our stand. We briefed the Minister on how construction is going with our CoE project.”

The CoE is designed to provide a new, best-in-class, high-pressure multiphase flow test facility, with a test range beyond anything currently available anywhere else in the world. It is focussed predominantly on the £50-billion-per-annum global subsea sector and will facilitate company-led industrial projects and product development, hands-on industry training and academic research. Construction of the CoE began in September, following a ground-breaking ceremony, and the base building is anticipated to be completed by April of next year.

The Minister’s visit was hosted by Michael Valente, CEO of TUV SUD UK’s overall business, and John Batchelor, Head of TUV SUD Industry Service Operations UK.

“The conference was a great chance for us to meet our partners and to make new contacts and discuss new opportunities,” Andrew adds. “For example, we had 88 new contacts and received almost two dozen leads which we are now in the process of following-up.”

NEL’s marketing team managed to secure inclusion within the daily exhibition update magazine to further promote the new CoE and provide an update on the build. The team also participated in Scottish Development International briefings and meetings with Global Scots, a worldwide network of business contacts that works to help Scottish companies develop, expand and thrive.

The Conference took place in Aberdeen between the 5th and 8th of September. NEL exhibited as part of the Scottish Pavilion. The central theme of the 2017 event was ‘Embracing New Realities: Reinventing our Industry’. Presentations and panel sessions addressed the multiple challenges currently facing the oil and gas industry.

For more details, contact Andrew Fisher

From left to right: Michael Valente, CEO of TUV SUD UK’s overall business, and John Batchelor, Head of TUV SUD Industry Service Operations UK, Paul Wheelhouse, MSP and Scottish Government Minister for Business and Innovation

Post updated from 11 October 2017


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Ground breaking ceremony marks start of construction of £16m Centre of Excellence

The ground-breaking ceremony for NEL’s new Centre of Excellence (CoE) for subsea development took place in September. The spade-wielding honours were carried out by Michael Valente, CEO of TUV SUD UK’s overall business, Oliver Jacob, CEO Western Europe at TÜV SÜD, and Stephen Lewis, Managing Director of HFD Property Group, which is undertaking the work.

“Starting the building work of the CoE brings to life our mission to help industry optimise all aspects of production through accurate measurement,” says NEL Managing Director, Brian Millington. “It also supports Scotland’s international standing within the global oil and gas sector.”

Construction began in September and the base building is anticipated to be completed by April of next year. The extensive fit-out needed to complete the facility will then commence.

The cutting-edge performance of the equipment that will be installed in the building, means that the structure must have impressive performance capabilities. It will feature 100kN/m² high-load floors, 12m-high eaves, overhead cranes and a dedicated service yard.

At the heart of the new CoE will be a £1.45million, full production scale separator. This specialist pressure vessel is 33m long and 2.5m diameter with an operating weight of 270 tonnes.  It will provide a range of test and research facilities with capabilities beyond anything available globally.

The start of the work on the new CoE has generated significant press coverage in both the Industry Press and on-line. Progress on the facility was also discussed at September’s Offshore Europe Exhibition, when Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish Government Minister for Business and Innovation, visited NEL’s stand(see associated article).

TÜV SÜD AG is investing £11.1 million in the project, which is the largest capital investment to date in the company’s UK business. This money is being provided alongside £4.9 million of research and development funding from Scottish Enterprise.

“This is a fantastic milestone in the Centre’s development,” says Linda Hanna, Managing Director of Strategy and Sectors at Scottish Enterprise. “It will enable Scotland to maximise its competitiveness in multiphase flow measurement and support the sector to take further advantage of opportunities in the £50 billion global subsea market.”

Designed to provide a new, best-in-class, high-pressure multiphase flow test facility, with a test range beyond anything currently available anywhere else in the world, the CoE is focussed predominantly on the £50-billion-per-annum global subsea sector. It will facilitate company-led industrial projects and product development, hands-on industry training and academic research. Creating at least 17 new jobs and safeguarding a further 82, the centre will futureproof the delivery of innovative technical services to the oil and gas production market for the next 25 years.

For more details, contact Marietta Hughes

From left to right: Stephen Lewis, Managing Director of HFD Property Group, Michael Valente, CEO of TUV SUD UK’s overall business, Oliver Jacob, CEO Western Europe at TÜV SÜD


Thursday, October 05, 2017

ISCF funded multiphase research now underway

Work has begun on an important piece of new research funded under the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF). The research aims to develop traceable methodology and standards for the in-situ verification of multiphase flow meters.

“The project has been launched and we have started on the first major step of the research,” says Project Manager, David Crawford. “We are developing a new in-situ technique for establishing relevant fluid properties like density, mass absorption coefficients and viscosity without the need for physical samples. This is vital, as multiphase flow meter performance is highly dependent upon knowledge of fluid properties.”

The ISCF-funded research addresses a major challenge affecting many industries. This is the fact that real-world conditions can affect the performance of flow sensors, causing significant errors. This problem is particularly challenging for oil and gas companies that have to measure complex multiphase fluid mixtures in remote and inaccessible environments.

“The challenge for flow measurement is to take the process of calibration and verification from the laboratory and move it to the ‘in-situ’ location,” says David. “, we are aiming to develop an approach to the verification of flow meter performance that accounts for real-world influences and allows users to have ongoing confidence in the measurements they receive. The applications of this research will be many and varied, from upstream oil and gas production and reactor control in nuclear power, to food and beverage production control.”

The research will include the development of methods and protocols to translate performance under laboratory conditions to industry operating conditions. It will also involve developing, testing and validating new state-of-the-art sensor technologies to determine the quality of measurements both in-situ and in real time.

NEL is in discussions with Heriot-Watt and Strathclyde Universities, CENSIS and Schlumberger Cambridge about this research.

The in-situ flow measurement research project is one of two ISCF-funded projects currently running at NEL. The other is focusing on the measurement of hydrogen gas when it is used as a vehicle fuel. The ISCF is a strategic element of the Government’s Industrial Strategy. The fund is being delivered by Innovate UK and the Research Councils.

For more details, contact us.


Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Meter testing for Middle East client highlights flexibility of Multiphase Facility

A high-value programme of meter testing for a leading oil exploration and production company from the Middle East is underway at NEL shortly. The project highlights NEL’s growing profile in the region and the flexibility of its test facilities.

“When we were initially discussing the project with the client, they advised that they would require specific reference fluids to be used. We were happy to meet their needs,” says David Millington, who is leading the project. “We usually use magnesium sulphate salts, but we will be replacing them with sodium chloride salts for this project.”

“This is quite an unusual request,” David explains, adding that sodium chloride salts are not usually used because they can be corrosive. “In fact,” he says. “I think that the main reason the customer selected NEL was because we could offer the flexibility and technological capability to comply with this requirement.”

The project involves the testing of five meters in the multiphase test facility at NEL’s East Kilbride laboratory. Three of these units are water cut meters, the other two are multiphase meters. The tests, which are scheduled to last for between three and four weeks, will quantify the base-line performance of the meters to a high degree of accuracy. There is an extensive test matrix for this project and a wide range of test fluid salinities are being used.

“This is our first testing project for this client and we are now delighted to be on their approved suppliers list,” David says. “We hope to build on this relationship in the future and establish ourselves even more firmly in the Middle East market.”

“In recent years our presence and profile in the region has grown,” David adds. “It is a competitive market in which to operate, but we are well-known for our expertise in multiphase meter testing and research.”

For more details, contact David Millington.


Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Webinar on meter optimisation gets global audience

The benefits of using controlled reference fluids rather than live hydrocarbon fluids for calibration was highlighted at a recent webinar which attracted participants from around the world.

“The webinar, titled ‘From the Lab to the Field’, looked at the challenge of how to get the best performance out of a meter,” says Principal Consultant, Dr Norman Glen who ran the knowledge transfer session. “My main message was that, by using reference fluids to calibrate a flow meter you get better control. Although reference fluids are not what the system sees in service, our experience shows that this approach along with in-situ testing gives the best results.”

Norman highlighted the rationale and advantages of using controlled reference fluids, including the fact that they are stable, have well-defined properties and that they are generally safe. Although the alternative, live (hydrocarbon) fluids, are representative of what multiphase flow meters (MPFM) experience in service; they are potentially hazardous and unstable, exhibit component transfer between phases and higher uncertainty in their fluid properties.

To underline his point, Norman highlighted Guidance Notes for Petroleum Measurement, produced by the Oil & Gas Authority. These notes state that the use of ‘model’ calibration fluids is “not only far less hazardous to operate but the PVT characteristics of the fluids are likely to be relatively well understood so that it becomes possible to compare the reference measurements with those of the MPFM with minimal additional uncertainty.”

“We used the webinar to highlight lots of other key issues relating to meter implementation, such as good metrology practice and fluid property issues,” Norman adds. “We also highlighted recent relevant developments at NEL. These included the EMPIR MultiFlowMet II project, designed to achieve measurement harmonisation between multiphase flow metrology testing facilities. The webinar produced a number of questions, mainly on calculation and uncertainty issues associated with fluid properties and on how best to account for changes due to temperature and pressure.”

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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