Posted on May 29, 2014 in News

In Australia there are a number of alumina and cement calciners operating; of these some are scaled up designs with no real engineering input. They have failed at an operational level leading to large outages / maintenance issues. All of this could have been circumvented with design studies using Advanced Analysis. Consider the cost of an intensive manual change-out of refractory lining and the significant downtime causing loss of production.

Both calcining and roasting plants used in mineral processing can be analysed at the design stage for reduction of the technical risk at CAPEX level, provided that Advanced Analysis is implemented right from the beginning. Existing plants that suffer performance and name plate issues also can adopt the benefits of high end Advanced Analysis.

This method provides a virtual guarantee and takes pressure off the EPCMs which may be expected to hold liability for any failure of equipment or materials specified by them.

Increasingly actual performance from handover through to warranty period is non-negotiable for the owner/operators; where does this leave the technology providers and EPCMS and how is the risk mitigated? The answer is through Advanced Analysis.

“The perception is to rely on adopted empirical methods from semi-related engineering fields”, says Mr Frank Soto of SOTO Consulting Engineers. “These techniques can give both conservative and non-conservative design solutions without any guarantee that the design is suitably optimised. They fail to make the best use of industry practice which involves a high level of advanced analysis techniques.”

“It is not a matter of just giving a warranty period”, says Mr Soto, “More importantly plant owners/operators wish to extend the campaign life of their thermal ceramic linings from the traditional norm of 2 years to 4 – 6 years upwards. Giving such a guarantee is outside the bounds of traditional engineering approaches. One must adopt better engineering practices to provide a full life cycle approach capturing normal operation and abnormal for such vessels. Design codes don’t give this, it’s not a case of designing a vessel or refinery to a code; it needs to be designed to reality.”

“The potential is enormous”, says Mr Soto. “For example, Nonlinear FEA coupled with DEM/CFD allows a full thermal / mechanical solution, integration of refractory lining, anchoring systems and process parameters provides assessment of all possible design considerations.”

“It is this deviation from normal operational parameters that leads to promotion of early failure. The adoption of this technology rests purely on the interested parties”, says Mr Soto. “It is up to them to make greater use of emergent principles rather than relying on simplified techniques. The opportunity is here now to make use of the technology”.

“We are proactive, responsive and attentive to project and customer needs, and everything is done in-house – this is a key asset of our value proposition,” said Mr Soto.

SOTO Consulting is a centre of excellence based in the Illawarra region of NSW; an industrial heartland of Australia.