We are always happy to conduct client tours because not only do we get to showcase a project we worked very hard on, but it also provides an opportunity to shed light on our design process. Very recently, we did a tour of one of our projects where we are helping our client expand the processing capacity of their biogas upgrading facility. A question we were asked is why our structure – white building in the photo above – housing the new process building is so much larger than the blue shipping container that encloses the existing system and that is typical of most systems?
It was a great question. From our experience working on renewable gas projects and with the capabilities of our manufacturing partner NWP Industries, a larger building structure makes the most sense for many reasons.
Fundamental to the operation of any processing plant is operator safety. A larger structure offers more space to incorporate safe design practices that includes plant layout and equipment configuration. This involves locating equipment requiring operator access to be away from equipment that gets hot, placing controls where they are easy to reach, providing proper clearance for anything that needs to be moved or lifted, and positioning monitors and gauges to be read at eye level.
Plants require regular maintenance to ensure they are in kept in good running order. With more space, maintenance points and any components that require replacement can be designed for access without having to disassemble a pipe or take apart other equipment to get to it. This speeds up maintenance to provide less downtime and higher mechanical availability.
As more weather events are occurring, structures may need to be insulated for more than one extreme season. And depending on the site, there may be other requirements the project owner must adhere to. Custom buildings allow us to easily insulate, filter the air, and add sound proofing as needed to meet site-specific conditions.
This style of building also costs less which helps keep project costs stay on budget. NWP is efficient at building a base from scratch, placing equipment in an open frame, and then installing the building around it. When containers are used, equipment needs to be manually carried in and mounted without access to the large overhead cranes that are readily available in the manufacturing shop.
When designing a system, we take into consideration many factors to deliver a customized facility that ticks off all the boxes for the robust, reliable and safe production of renewable natural gas. We do this while maintaining industry-leading cost effectiveness. And we don’t hesitate to do something a bit different if it means doing better by our clients.
Written by Jason Bridges, P.Eng.