The theme of VMA’s 2014 Technical Seminar and Exhibition event was “Valve Emissions for Compliance, Standards and Technology” and the presenters covered the subject from every angle. Keynote speaker Ken Garing is with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – NEIC – and opened the event with a comprehensive report on why it is so important to monitor and reduce fugitive emissions.
“Fugitive emissions present an environmental and safety risk,” he said. “While only one or two percent of the valves in any one facility may be leaking, large refineries and chemical plants in the U.S. can have 200,000 valves. If 2% of those are leaking several pounds of emissions per year, that is a lot of mass. These leaking valves contribute to air quality problems in heavy industrial areas.”
The most important thing as far as the EPA is concerned, is that if a leak is found, it is fixed right away. “Just because a valve leaks, it is not necessarily a violation of the regulations; it is only a violation if it’s not fixed. So don’t just schedule it for repairs. Repair it.”
This is a lesson well-learned by the speakers of two other presentations. Dan Devine is the valve technology resource leader for Dow Chemical Company, which has been operating under an Enhanced Leak Detection and Repair Program (ELP) or Consent Decree at two plants since November 2011. An ELP imposes stricter requirements than normal leak detection and repair (LDAR) regulations, and increases the frequency at which a plant will be monitored.
Devine shared the challenges of complying with the Consent Decree, which is a binding legal document that is negotiated by EPA and the affected company. “The term “Low Emission Valves” is a legal definition,” he said. “This legal definition has to be met. There is no ‘sort of’ low emission. Once a leak has been detected when you’re under this decree, the new packing or new valve must be “low-emitting” if commercially available. Even if you successfully repaired the leak, you still must replace or repack the valve.”
A huge challenge for companies operating under these decrees is the difficulty of finding the valve and packing materials that qualify under the legal definition. This was echoed in a presentation by Rich Sobilo and Stephen McJones of BP. They discussed the progress the company’s Whiting, IN refinery has made since it began serious work on LDAR improvements in 2011 and the work they have done since the facility began operating under a consent decree in 2012.
The company had in place several strategies to reduce emissions, which included improving maintenance schedules and replacing valves from approved manufacturers who were developing new technologies to meet the standards. An interesting problem presented itself, though, because as they kept better track of the results of changing valves, they realized that many of the new valves had leaks within the first year. They discovered that the problems were not in the valves themselves, but with stem packing, so there was no need to replace with a whole new valve.
The process has allowed the company to create a database of the issues, and Sobilo and McJones will be supplying an in-depth article on this to VALVE Magazine in the next several weeks.
As end users discussed the challenges of achieving lower emissions, another presenter offered new and improved ways of monitoring emissions, which would help manufacturers engineer products that reduce emission and meet new standards.
New Standards and Testing
Jose Carlos Veiga of Teadit’s Rio de Janeiro, Brazil office demonstrated testing procedures including a “packing drag, force transmission and thermal expansion test rig.” The tests performed by this rig demonstrated the effect of composition on packing behavior and resulted in a reference paper published by ASME. Veiga also enumerated the methods and results of thermal expansion tests, knife, gate and control valve tests and the protocols behind gasket testing.
In addition, Veiga revealed the new test rig that is being designed to handle the requirements of the newly published API 624 standard. API 624 specifies the requirements and acceptance criteria (100 ppmv) for fugitive emission type testing of rising and rising-rotating stem valves equipped with packing previously tested in accordance with API Standard 622.
In his presentation on Thursday, Matt Wasielewski of Yarmouth Research described the evolution of FE standards and performance. Wasielewski was actually involved in the development of standards that became necessary following the signing into law of The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. This amendment comprehensively addressed three areas of environmental concern: acid deposition, urban air quality and toxic air pollution, which, he said, is fugitive emissions.
Wasielewski demonstrated the four leakage measurement methods: sniffing, flushing, vacuum and bagging, and compared their efficacy. Like many of the other presenters, Wasielewski also stressed the importance to the industry of the finalization of the API 624 valve standard and shared the new test stands that Yarmouth is developing to accommodate the new requirements.
Carlos E. Davila, Crane Energy Flow Solutions, gave an update on efforts to include in published standards the pressure seal valve design requirements that the industry needed to ensure compliance with new air quality regulations. Neither API nor ASME agreed to include a standard on pressure seal valve design, but MSS agreed, and the standard was placed in the TC 114, Steel Valves agenda for development. It was published as SP-144 in 2013 and covers construction requirements for steel and steel alloy gate, globe and check valves.
Davila also enumerated the 2013 updates to ASME B16.34, which were approved by the ASME B16 committee and published on Feb. 19, 2013. These standards are now in a three-year cycle to align with B16.5 and B16.47, and increase the size range from NPS 24 to NPS 50. The standards also added reference to ASME B16.47 for flanges due to size range increase, and some materials changed groups or were deleted.
The enormity of the situation regarding pipeline safety was brought home to attendees in the presentation by Mike McQuade of Emerson Process Management Valve Automation. He pointed out there are more than 2 million miles of pipe in the U.S., 400,000 miles of which are large-diameter transmission pipelines; 60% of those pipelines were installed 40 or more years ago.
When something goes wrong, the results can be calamitous, especially in heavily populated areas. As a result of some events like the natural gas line explosion that devastated San Bruno, CA in 2010, the NTSB made recommendations that the industry develop standards for rapid shutdown of failed natural gas pipelines, and for installation of automatic or remote-operated mainline valves in high-consequence areas.
The challenge for operators and valve manufacturers, of course, is to ensure that valves do not close in response to transient pressure changes or maintenance operations, but that when line breaks truly do happen, there is no time delay.
24th Edition API Standards
Rick Faircloth of Cameron pointed out in his presentation that for more than 22 years, ISO jointly developed with API many product standards for both upstream and downstream product standards. End users enjoyed having one global standard, but in 2012, ISO elected to give full voting rights to a sanctioned country, which became a big issue for the U.S. They likened it to selling products or technology so, on the recommendation of its lawyers, API no longer actively participates in jointly developing standards. “It’s sad,” said Faircloth, “because they don’t need two standards, and 22 years of work is gone.”
The 24th edition was created by 25 technical experts from around the world. Six of them are end users, which Faircloth said is very important in developing standards. In 10 months, the document was completed, and it is now out for ballot. The biggest change is the actual title of the specification, which has changed to “Pipeline and Piping Valves.” Faircloth also enumerated the new oil & gas industry supply chain standards and the introduction of the API monogram program which allows an API Licensee to apply the API monogram to approved products.
Advances in Materials
While standards dominated the discussions and presentations on the first day of the event, on the second day attention was focused on advances that have made possible the development of better materials to construct valves, seats and seals.
David W. Gandy of the Electric Power Research Institute demonstrated hot isostatic processing, which uses metallic powders rather than standard casting or forging to manufacture valve components. Among the many benefits of this process is that the resulting product is homogenous, meaning the size of the molecules is consistent and there is no porosity.
Dr. Tim Bremner of Hoerbiger Corporation was passionate in his presentation on the importance of quality non-metallic products used in valve components. He expressed concern that technical demand and application space for new materials is outpacing the rate of commercialization of viable products, and this is resulting in the risk that materials are placed into applications without basic understanding of the long term or service condition performance of those materials. He worries that fundamental science and engineering is not being conducted at a scale or with the focus that is required to mitigate these risks and gaps that could have a catastrophic effect on safety.
In the final presentation of the seminar, Loren Stewart, a safety engineer at Exida enumerated the functional safety standards set out in 61508 and 61511 from the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), a non-profit, non-governmental international standards organization that prepares and publishes international standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies.
While the title of IEC 61508 makes it appear that it covers only electrical and related systems, it does also cover mechanical products. The IEC 61511 standard targets end users, engineering contractors and integrators in process industries.
For many of the attendees at this seminar, the IEC standards were unfamiliar, so this was an excellent opportunity to learn more about the ways to make and keep a safe environment.
Technical Committee Chairman Jeff Hager (pictured, left), who introduced speakers and moderated panels, said, “The seminar, with its focus on fugitive emissions, provided a broad view of the issues that the valve industry is challenged with. The attendees reported the presentations were well received. Many of the participants increased their knowledge of fugitive emissions related issues and learned how they can help make our air quality better for the generations to come. “
Over the next few weeks, VALVEmagazine.com will publish articles by several of the presenters of the 2014 Technical Seminar & Exhibition. Be sure to check back regularly for more in-depth coverage of this important event.