Pebble Bed Micro Model Start-up

The PBMM (the world's first closed cycle multi-shaft gas turbine test rig) was developed to demonstrate the operation of a three-shaft, pre- and inter-cooled recuperative Brayton cycle in order to gain a better understanding of its dynamic behavior. The entire cycle was designed, simulated and commissioned with Flownex within 9 months at a cost saving of $48 million.

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HTGR Power cycle

This case study demonstrates the steady-state simulation of a High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor (HTGR) nuclear power plant (NPP). The HTGR is one of the most promising reactor concepts of the Nuclear Renaissance, offering advantages such as improved safety and economics, shorter construction times, distributed generation and high temperature availability for process heat applications such as hydrogen production.

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Design Optimization

CASE STUDY: Styldrift Mine Air Reticulation System

Challenge: This case study ‘Styldrift Mine’, aims to demonstrate the capability of Flownex SE to create an accurate simulation model to carry out a design optimization study of a large compressed air network. To determine the ideal design with regard to sizing pipes, accumulators, compressor equipment and future expansion accounting for total equipment consumption and factored losses in the system.

The case study presents how Flownex SE was successfully employed on a large mining installation design project, where it successfully determined the operating conditions of a proposed installation to deliver an optimized final design. The case study describes how using a step by step approach in Flownex through a series of simulations the user can improve operational performance, test every possible demand load scenario. This shows that Flownex is not just a thermo fluids analysis tool, but it can also be used in the mechanical design optimization of thermo fluid systems in the mining industry.

One of the considerable benefits aside from delivering an optimized design on this project was the fact that the detailed mechanical design can be based on the Flownex optimum design recommendations. Thereby reducing the additional project and operational costs usually associated with over or under specification of equipment when an optimized design has not been fully simulated, tested and determined.

PSV Sizing and Reaction Force Modelling

This case study demonstrates the use of Flownex® to size properly performing pressure control valves for typical plant operation and to size and select a code compliant matching pressure safety valve, and calculate the associated relief flow reaction forces. 

Pressure control valves (PCVs), pressure regulating valves and pressure safety valves (PSVs) are an important part of any plant design in the oil and gas industry. Gas products are typically transported at very high pressures to reduce pumping costs and reduce line sizes. Pressure control valves (and the subset of pressure regulating valves) are then used to reduce the pressures to the required levels at the point of consumption. However, if a pressure control valve fails, the plant design must make provision for safety systems to prevent catastrophic events from taking place. The proper selection and installation of pressure safety valves is one option. Alternatively, two pressure control valves may be installed in series in a so called active-monitor arrangement. Furthermore, a slam-shut valve may be installed that is able to shut down the plant in a short period of time.

This paper discusses the combination of pressure control and pressure safety valves where the latter is used as the means of ensuring failure should the former fail. The usage of PSVs is commonplace in most oil and gas plants, in fact, all international design codes and standards in the oil and gas industry mandate their use at any position in the plant where pressures may exceed design parameters. Pressure increases beyond design values may occur mainly due to three causes:

  1. Process failure – a situation where faulty equipment is no longer capable of controlling the pressure to acceptable limits. This may include a failed control valve, a blocked outlet, a tube rupture, a loss of utility such as cooling medium or power, gas blow-by etc.
  2. Locked-in thermal expansion – a situation where a vessel or length of pressure piping may be locked in upstream and downstream and a resident heat source then causes the internal pressure to rise beyond design limits.
  3. External fire relief – a situation where an external fire may add heat to a vessel or pressure piping, resulting in a similar scenario to the locked-in thermal expansion case.

A side-effect of the installation of a PSV is the resulting reaction force that may be created when the PSV opens. Since most PSVs “pop” open rather quickly, very high reaction forces may result and must be checked by the design engineer.

This case study demonstrates how Flownex® can be used to size a PCV as well as a matching full-flow PSV and easily calculate the resulting reaction forces. Checks for design code compliance are also performed.

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Natural Draft Stack

This case study demonstrates the use of Flownex® to model a natural draft exhaust stack such as those typically used in natural gas combustion processes. A basic stack compound component has been developed to assist and simplify the modeling process.

Natural draft processes rely on buoyancy effects to generate draft. However, when modeling an exhaust stack, the stack height also implies a small but significant pressure drop due to elevation. These two effects combine to drive the natural draft flow.
Additionally, the exhaust stack compound component imple-ments convenient mechanisms to specify stack geometry and losses such as the elbow between the vertical stack and the horizontal piping feeding into the stack. It allows for a unity exit loss as well as an additional loss factor that could be used for any additional losses in the stack design such as a velocity seal, a silencer or a spark arrestor.

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Pressure Piping Thickness and Flange Rating Calculation

In the oil and gas industry high pressure applications are mostly the norm rather than the exception. Process engineers may employ Flownex® to model liquid or gas piping systems as part of their heat and mass balance, and pipe sizing calculations. However, the process engineer often has to rely on others to determine the required pipe schedules (wall thickness) and flange ratings.
Flownex® has a very powerful facility in terms of its scripting capability. Combined with the Generic 4D chart library, all the tools required are available to implement pressure piping calculations according to any design standard. In fact, any data table oriented calculation procedure may be implemented using this approach. This case study demonstrates the implementation of three such international standards – ASME B31.3, AS 1210 and AS 4041 – in a simple script. It also further demonstrates how to use the Generic 4D charts as a material property library to be used by the script.

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Fired Heater Design

The design of a fired heater (or similar) package typically starts with a heat and mass balance. This first step is necessary to determine the process parameters which determine most of the sizing of the package. A fired heater package heat and mass balance includes the modelling of the combustion process and the modelling of the heat transfer and fluid flow processes. Modelling the combustion process typically involves the specification of the fuel gas composition, the combustion air composition, the air-fuel ratio and the fuel flow rate. The heat transfer from the fired heater combustion process into the process fluid may be specified in terms of an overall heater thermal efficiency. Typical heat and mass balance calculations do not provide estimations of the physical size of the heater or even the ducting and other components such as combustion air fans, neither do they enable the calculation of system pressure losses or heat losses. They are also incapable of providing insight into tube wall and process fluid film temperatures which are very important in the oil and gas industry. Flownex® enables the user to perform all these tasks easily and quickly in a single calculation.

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Combustion Modelling

The Flownex® Adiabatic Flame model is based on the NASA Glenn Chemical Equilibrium Program CEA2 and supports a large range of fuels. The development of the natural gas combustion model has only attempted to implement a combustion model for typical natural gas compositions. It would be easy to add capabilities for other fuel components, whether gaseous or liquid.
The development of this model essentially comprised of three basic fields of development. Firstly, some effort went into defining fluid tables for the selected natural gas components (listed in Table 2) in such a way that accurate interpolation would result at low partial pressures and at temperatures exceeding those expected during combustion. Secondly, a suite of compound components were developed to assist with the convenient specification and analysis of the gas components. Thirdly, a Simple Burner model was developed by wrapping the Flownex Adiabatic Flame model in a compound component together with a script to enable the specification and calculation of typical natural gas burner performance parameters.

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Blow-off test valve analysis

A blow-off test to determine compressor performance during part load conditions is required at a newly built compressor plant. The test requires controlled flow variation in order to test the compressor’s performance within the specified range. For this, a pipe header with 1½” and 1” solenoid valves needs to be designed. The flow rate should be incrementally variable between 30 Nm3/min and 160 Nm3/min.

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Regulator temperature analysis

Pressure regulators are to be employed at a gas-fired power station to reduce upstream gas pressures from a maximum of 15 MPa to approximately 3.5 MPa. Due to the Joule-Thompson effect, the resulting gas temperature drops could be in the region of 55 °C. The dew-point temperature of the hydrocarbons (gas) flowing through is -15 °C, and the minimum ambient temperature of the area is -6 °C. Thus, the regulators could potentially be subjected to gas at -61 °C at start-up. According to the valve manufacturer, temperatures as low as -20 °C can be tolerated for some time, provided that condensation does not occur. 

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