Nicholas Newman Pipeline Gas Journal January 2017
High-performance industrial pressure regulators are used in gas and liquid pipelines to control flows and to prevent problems such as leaks.
There are numerous companies supplying this market including America’s Fairchild Industrial Products, Italy’s Pietro Fiorentini, and Germany’s KSB Aktiengesellschaft. The UK’s Oxford Flow Company, led by CEO Simon Hombersley, estimates that the high-performance industrial pressure regulator market is worth $3 billion a year.
Regulators are designed to withstand extreme pressure and temperatures while operating seamlessly to control the rate of flow through pipelines. They are ubiquitous in the energy sector and can be found in producing fields, transmission and distribution pipelines, refineries and natural gas power plants.
Most high-performance industrial pressure regulators are still based on designs by British engineer and innovator Bryan Donkin dating back to the 1800s. Donkin’s design incorporates actuated ball valves powered by costly generators and backup generators. The trouble is that the ball valve’s components begin to fail through use because of erosion, fatigue and eventually breakage. As a result, such often-heavy devices have to be regularly replaced, leading to costly downtime. In fact, some ball valves are so heavy that they need at least two workers to remove them.
It was to overcome the longevity and weight problems of conventional designs that Professor Thomas Povey of Oxford University, supported by £320 million investment group OSI, which provides development capital for Oxford University’s Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division and its Medical Sciences Division spinoff companies, was able to conduct his research.
Povey spent five years at the world’s leading Osney Thermo-Fluids Laboratory in Oxford. The laboratory’s super-computers enabled his team to take exact measurements of heat transfer in turbine blades which required precise control of gas flow to capture the requisite data. Read more