AUMA electric actuators are proving their durability under extreme operating conditions at facilities processing frac sand in Tomah, Wisconsin, USA.
The AUMA units withstand high levels of vibration and periodic flooding that have defeated other actuators in a matter of days.
AUMA supplied 17 SQR 07.2 actuators with AC 01.2 controls at the end of May 2018. They are installed at four facilities operated by Hi-Crush Operating LLC, which produces frac sand for the US oil and gas market. The actuators control water flows around hydrosizers, which use water to separate the frac sand into sharply defined size fractions.
According to Matt Kaczmarek of Dorner Co., a vendor of valves and actuators, Hi-Crush was having to replace the previous actuators on a weekly basis because extreme vibration was damaging them, especially their electronic components: “The commodity actuators were vibrating apart, and the control boards and potentiometers were failing left and right.”
In addition, sudden deluges of water from an overflowing tank above made it hard to install replacements. “Hi-Crush wrecked numerous actuators during setup,” Matt Kaczmarek says. “They would have an actuator opened up for calibration and water would come down from above, frying the actuator.”
The new AUMA actuators allow the AC 01.2 controls to be mounted remotely from the actuator bodies, to which they are linked by 35-ft (10-meter) cables. This simplifies installation and aids operators in checking the status of the actuators. Most importantly, it improves reliability by removing the electronics from the areas of high vibration.
Compared to the previous commodity actuators, the AUMA units are also easier to calibrate and maintain. Setup can be done non-intrusively, without opening the actuator housing, so flooding at the Hi-Crush plants is not a problem. If issues do arise, AUMA’s powerful diagnostics show maintenance staff exactly where to look.
“AUMA was more expensive initially,” says Matt Kaczmarek, “but the new actuators have been paying themselves off for the last few months as they have been operating with no major issues.”
“Previously, the customer would spend hours diagnosing actuator failures. Then they would still have to replace the part that failed, recalibrate and test, which equated to hours and hours of downtime. Oftentimes, even after replacing parts they would find something else was wrong and have to replace the whole actuator.”
Rotork electric actuators powered by solar panels on US gas production wells
Engineered for choke and control valve applications, Rotork ’s IQTF actuators provide reliable flow control for oil and gas or process operations, capable of achieving accuracy to 0.3% and resolution to 0.1%. A highly accurate absolute position sensor can measure up to 22 output turns independent of electrical power.
Rotork’s customer has ordered IQTF actuators to carry out modulating duties on wellhead rotary non-rising choke valves at the East Texas section of the Haynesville / Bossier shale gas formation, a Jurassic Period rock formation covering large parts of South West Arkansas, North West Louisiana and East Texas. Approximately 60 actuators have already been installed to control the flow and pressure of gas and condensate, a mixture of liquid hydrocarbons formed when pressure and temperature decrease as a result of well drilling, at the site near the city of Lufkin. Two IQTF actuators have been installed on each well. More than 30 have also been ordered to hold in the customer’s inventory.
All wells at the Haynesville formation are fully automated to maintain flow and well pressure. To maximise the lifespan of the wells, the customer uses two choke valves on each one to step pressure down from 10,000 psi to 1,200 psi. Shale gas is metered between the wellhead and midstream trunkline where it is transported to domestic supply customers as well as industries including LNG plants and power stations.
The remote location of the wells means a DC power supply using a solar system and battery pack is being used to power the IQTF actuators. This solution was specified as a more reliable option than hydraulic or pneumatic actuation as it avoids potential leakage common in hydraulic actuators. Texas also has plenty of sun to use as a source while electric actuators use less power than a hydraulic system.
In a separate project, more than 60 IQTF actuators have been ordered for a new well site at the Eagle Ford basin in South Texas, where they will again be installed two per well. The customer’s operations in both the Eagle Ford and Haynesville basins, as well as its oil and gas assets in the Permian-Delaware basin, contribute to the company producing 190,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in Texas and Louisiana.
Rotork’s lightweight, compact IQTF actuator provides fast and accurate valve control and can perform up to 1,800 starts per hour, an important factor given the need for a tight well flow threshold to avoid over pressure in the main trunkline. If too much gas is extracted in a short period of time the reservoir can implode or cause ground fractures which water or gas can infiltrate and cause a loss in production. The involvement of Rotork Site Services (RSS), which offered final commission and warranty, and Rotork ’s support during initial testing and calibrating was also key in the customer’s decision to choose the company’s products.
IQTF actuators are available with rotary, linear or rising stem valve drive outputs to ISO / MSS standards.
A sealed for life internal lubrication system ensures reliability for the actuators installed on wells at unmanned, remote sites. This system uses oil which can perform in temperatures ranging from -50 to +70 °C (-58 to +158 °F), ideal for the environment in East Texas where temperatures very rarely drop below the lowest point.
AUMA and ACMO for Italian water treatment plants
AC.MO S.r.l., member of the AKK group, has been awarded a major contract for supplying AUMA motorised valves for the water treatment plant of Fanaco, Italy. The aim of the development is energy harvesting from water previously distributed to basins prior to redirection to the water purifier. The system is connected to the main pipeline of an existing water purification plant, thus creating a new by-pass pipeline enabling redirection of the water flow to the new hydroelectric generator.
After driving the turbine, the water flow is returned to the main line towards the water purifier and, finally, distributed to the consumer. In addition to the typical task ahead of the turbine, the deployed valves allow for smooth flow regulation while ensuring turbine safety by providing a complete by-pass. The overall system is now capable of generating electric power of up to 180 kW.
Actuators offer high load capacity and synchronization feature
The innovative Thomson Electrak HD range of linear actuators from INMOCO has been extended with higher power capacities, opening up new possibilities in hydraulic-to-electric conversion across a broad spread of applications. These smart electromechanical actuators also incorporate onboard electronics that can eliminate the need for standalone controls, with a synchronisation option that enables the integration of two or more actuators.
With load capacity increased by 50% in the newly extended range, the Electrak HD actuators can now handle loads up to 16kN. The actuators with the highest load rating in the range, the 16kN units, are available with stroke lengths up to 500mm; longer stroke lengths, up to the 1m maximum, can be supplied with up to 10kN load ratings. This enables the actuators to be used in some of the most demanding applications that could previously only have been handled by hydraulic actuators.
In addition, protection to IP69K means the actuators can be used in the most environmentally demanding applications. They are built to withstand dirt, water, fertilisers, acids and oils, and can be used across a broad range of temperatures extending from -40degC to +85degC.
Another new feature is the synchronisation option, with enables machine designers to handle not only heavier loads but also uneven loads. For example, a load that is much heavier at one end than the other could damage a machine and its components if not handled properly, but the synchronisation feature allows two or more Electrak HD units to share and evenly distribute load.
Synchronisation enables designers to advantage of a more stable and potentially quicker lift, without the requirement for additional guides or mechanical linkages. This also means simpler installation, which extends to the wiring of the system as well, since the integrated controls for synchronisation eliminate the need for external sync control.
Electrak HD actuators are built around a high-quality ball screw, the efficiency of which reduces power consumption by up to 20%. This is protected by a hard-anodised aluminium cover tube and a stainless steel extension tube. The modular design of the HD allows all control and feedback options to be built into a single compact housing, which improves controllability, saves space and reduces installation time and total cost. A CAN J1939 bus option can eliminate individual controls and simplifies OEM machine design.
The wide range of optional control features can, in many cases, eliminate the need for external controls. This saves design and installation time, as well as space and cost. It also allows the HD to be customised to the specific needs of demanding heavy-duty applications.
Gerard Bush of INMOCO comments: “Electrak HD actuators can deliver huge benefits over pneumatic and hydraulic mechanisms, including reduced design, installation and operation costs, while improving controllability, safety and productivity. With the increased load capacity and the synchronisation option, the actuators can now handle an even broader range of applications, accelerating the trend towards electric conversion of actuation in the most demanding machinery tasks and mobile on- and off-highway equipment. Replacing hydraulic and pneumatic systems, the Electrak HD actuators are smaller, cleaner and easier to integrate with modern computer-based control systems.”
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