Butane spheres must be isolated in case of fire
Our customer operates a butane plant, where individual canisters are loaded with butane. The butane spheres on site are located about 1 meter above the ground. Underneath these spheres there are 4 manual valves that must be closed in case of a fire.
Operators must risk their lives to operate valves
As the spheres are so near to the ground and the valves are obstructed by surrounding piping, operators need to climb and crawl before reaching the valves. In case of a fire, having to crawl over the piping, under the sphere, and then operating these valves by hand would be extremely dangerous for the operator. The risk of an operator getting injured this way would be unacceptable. Therefore, our customer searched for a safe yet cost-effective way to eliminate this risk. Actuation of the valves would have been relatively expensive, adding unnecessary complexity whilst still holding a realistic chance of actuator failure in case of fire. Therefore, a manual solution was preferred.
We moved operation away from the danger zone
They found our remote valve operators to be the ideal solution to safely operate these valves in emergency situations. With our remote operators, the valves could be operated from a safe distance.
We offered our FlexiDrive remote operator with high temperature resistant cables. The FlexiDrive allows operation of manual valves away from the valve location. Valve stations are mounted on top of the manual valve and connected to operator stations through a 7-8-meter-long flexible cable system. FlexiDrive remote operators are available with specific fire-resistant cabling that can resist operating temperatures of up to 1.000 °C, this ensures suitability in case of a fire. In this case standard cabling was selected.
By adding 4 FlexiDrive remote operators to a single sphere, this customer has now enabled operators to operate the valves directly under the spheres from a safe location in case of a fire, without the need to automate these valves. After a successful pilot on one sphere, the additional spheres are now soon to follow.
About the company
This large European refinery and petrochemical operator has four butane gas plants, where they load individual canisters with butane. Together these four sites have tens of butane spheres that face this particular issue.