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What are Exhaust Systems?

Industrial applications for manufacturing, transportation, and other machinery and petrochemical engineering-based applications find their energy to function by the usage of fossil fuels. These systems produce work by combustion which gives out various by-products like carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and other gases in form of smoke/fumes. These by-products should be evacuated out of the so-called machines for proper functioning, hence requiring an effective exhaust system to be installed in them.

Exhaust systems play an important role in any heavy machinery-based oil and gas industry as their inner filtration and exhaustion mechanism also determines the number of toxic fumes going out in the environment. Effective design of such systems can help in reducing harmful emissions and also maintain the long-term and proper functioning of the equipment at hand.

Exhaust System Types

The petroleum oil and gas industry operates on a regulatory procedure. These regulations are depended upon the type of petroleum produced and have different means of using exhaust systems to dispose of the waste materials. Classification of different petroleum product types are as follows: –

  • Class A Petroleum: Liquids with a flashpoint below 23 degrees Celsius
  • Class B Petroleum: Liquids with a flash point above 23 degrees Celsius but below 65 degrees Celsius
  • Class C Petroleum: Liquids with flashpoints above 65 degrees Celsius but below 93 degrees Celsius
  • Excluded Petroleum: Liquids with a flashpoint above 93 degrees Celsius

Class A and Class B are often stored within the same container whereas Class C is stored in an isolated container. There are no specific types of exhausts used for this purpose but these liquids have their channel due to their volatility, through which all transport procedures are done.

Exhaust system components in general consist of the following components: –

  • Turbine: A gas turbine with the condition of ambient air filtration system is installed for suitable air filtration. These are also coupled with exhaust gas ducting to avoid leakage and couple it with a silencer to reduce overall noise.
  • Fuel Systems: Turbines within the oil and gas production also require fuel to function, exhaust systems have fuel firing capabilities for continuously purging liquid fuel.
  • Lubrication Systems: The mechanism also has advanced lubrication systems in place for the proper functioning of the equipment and to reduce the overall residue.
  • Process Control Systems: Sophisticated control systems make filtration automatic and keep the systems in check without much intervention from people.
  • Fans and Blowers: In addition to the turbine, other fans and blowers are also a part of the exhaust system to suck in all of the byproducts and channel them through the main turbine from all over the area.

Regulations and Guidelines

There is a standard operating procedure followed in every oil and gas company. The safety regulation and protocols should always be adhered to with the strictest actions. The authorities in an area often have a schedule of the design process of the overall functioning of the petroleum oil and gas companies. These blueprints are a backbone for these oil and gas production houses.

The checklist often requires to tick the following operation promptly: –

  • Mechanical Preparation 
  • Flushing of equipment and piping 
  • Chemical Cleaning Instructions 
  • Physical Cleaning Instructions Mechanical Restoration Machinery 
  • Run in Tightness test 
  • Electrical testing/functional tests/energizing 
  • Instrument’s calibration and functional test 
  • Loading of chemicals 
  • Loading of catalyst 
  • Heaters drying 
  • Chemicals boil out of steam generation facilities Verification of Mechanical Completion

Further, hydrostatic testing is also carried out for the equipment and process lines. The exhaust system for the oil and gas production line is tested to prove the strength of materials and weld integrity after the procedures are completed. Although these regulations also vary according to the geographical location of the oil and gas industry the underlying aspect remains the same throughout.

Regulatory standard operating procedures also require authorized personnel to make another set of procedures for operating the oil and gas companies as per the daily oil and gas production goals. Guidelines suggest it should be similar in reading with the regulation operating procedure provided earlier so it can be communicated easily. Furthermore, it should cover the following: –

  • SOP shall be prepared by the experienced personnel in line with the design, standards and
    vendors specifications. 
  • SOP shall be checked and approved by the higher management before being followed
  • Description of the system is handled 
  • Detailed Operating procedural steps along with precautions 
  • Handling in case of emergency 
  • Additional precautions whenever required 
  • SOP shall be updated regularly incorporating the previous experiences and recommendations

Exhaust System Components

There are essentially three main components of an exhaust system, there may be other components used in oil and gas production but for a basic understanding we have the following: manifolds, heat shield, connections, wastegates.

  • Manifolds: Manifolds are responsible for collecting the incoming gases from each of the cylinders, which gets its inflow from the turbines. The manifolds then channel it through to the exhaust outlet. There may be different types of manifolds used in a single exhaust system.
  • Heat Shield: Heat shielding may be installed to protect the components and build materials from excessive heat. Heatshield installation depends on some factors regarding the type of material used for the design, the outer environment, and also the legislative rules of the area.
  • Connections: Connections here refer to the exhaust piping. I the case of large oil and gas production oil and gas companies the piping systems are integrated with the large chimneys which take care of all the waste exhaust.

The majority of exhaust systems are similar to their automotive and industrial counterparts, only the scale of the machinery and design of the project differs but the implementation remains the same. Industrial ventilation requirements can often be demanding for their plethora of uses. Hence, proper planning which adheres to the regulations is necessary to keep things in check and maintain the proper functioning of the task at hand.

Industrial ventilation

Industrial exhaust/ventilation systems are an important component in the oil and gas production pipeline, providing sufficient airflow for all the components in the whole process, though they have some limitations: –

  • Contamination build-up within the chamber of an exhaust system causes them to require regular maintenance for effective functioning, especially the air filters installed within them.
  •  Routine testing is required keeping in mind various scenarios that can occur due to faults, leakage, or any other catastrophe.
  • Properly trained staff should be hired around the clock according to the regulatory guidelines as they are the only ones authorized to work on the said system components; this may add up to the cost causing the project to be expensive.
  • A Duct system can have adverse effects and cause the entire air ventilation system to be in a rapid plugging causing reduced airflow from other locations within the oil and gas companies. If not limitations, these can be hassles if not taken care of properly.

The petroleum oil and gas industry usually has two types of ventilation/exhaust systems in place for clearing everything up, namely: local exhaust system and indoor air quality optimizer.

The fundamental principle of a local exhaust system is that air flows from high pressure to low pressure areas. This takes the contaminated air from the source and pushes it outside, the same as mentioned previously in this article. The turbine and the fans which are installed all around the facility create this air pressure difference which circulates the air towards the outgoing flow. It also makes sure all the employees working within the oil and gas companies are safe from any exposure and thus adheres to the guidelines provided by the regulatory authorities.

A local exhaust system requires the following: –

  • Precise ductwork to move the contaminates in an isolated environment
  • Quality air filtration system along with the fans and turbines installed in the facility
  • Movement stack with which the contaminants can be removed

This type of ventilation system can be used to remove all kinds of contaminants and by-products produced within any oil and gas company and also uses less energy than any other exhaust system. The local exhaust system can also be beneficial when there are: –

  • Inconsistent emissions over time
  • High concentration of hazardous materials
  • Point sources of contaminants
  • Workers are close to the source of contaminants
  • The factory is in a severe climate location
  • It is required not to turn over the air in the factory

Advantages of a local exhaust system are: –

  • Requires less makeup air because fewer quantities of air are exhausted
  • Reduced energy heating and cooling costs
  • Captures the emission at the source and removes it
  • The best type of ventilation for highly toxic airborne contaminants, fumes, gases, vapors, and dust.

Disadvantages of a local exhaust system: –

  • High cost to design, install and maintain
  • Requires regular maintenance, inspection, and cleaning

The petroleum oil and gas industry produces more than a billion liters of fuel a year which uses up a lot of energy and gives out various kinds of by-products in the environment. Advanced filtration systems and proper SOPs are in place to make sure these systems are efficiently functioning throughout the oil and gas production cycle and make the impact on the environment as low as possible.

Conclusion

Exhaust systems and subsystems are in place within oil and gas companies according to the regulations of the governing bodies. These systems help in smooth oil and gas production and distribution of essential components for all the other industries which are directly dependent on the production of oil and gas products.

Exhaust System Guide for Petroleum Oil and gas industry

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