The Research and Development Center (R&DC) is at the forefront of developing and introducing new technologies to support the huge networks of crude oil and gas processing facilities, massive facilities with equipment running round the clock.
R&DC has established close relationships with those in the field, where resources from both sides come together to address issues on the front lines. A blend of experience, technology and specialized services has created a unique body of expertise offering unique solutions.
Not long ago, Abqaiq Plants engineer Samer Al-Hakami approached R&DC to propose procedures in which it could maximize the service life of air filters used in gas turbine filtration systems. Filters that are used to remove dust and other impurities were failing far faster than the manufacturer’s specifications.
Gas turbines play a vital role in supplying energy to facilities within the company. They need complex air filtration systems to prevent turbine components from erosion, fouling and hot corrosion.
The air-filter replacement program at Abqaiq Plants, for example, had become so expensive, it attracted the attention of plant management.
R&DC carried out an extensive study to design and examine ultrasonic (sound waves) technology as a practical, easy-to-apply and cost-effective way to clean the filters and extend their life.
Using sonic cleaning, the researchers found, filters are not only cleaned of dust and dirt but also of organic materials without affecting the physical integrity of the filter.
Environmental scanning electron microscopy, which can produce high-resolution images, reveals details at nanometer level with a magnification of more than 300,000 (about 250 times the magnification limit of the best light microscopes). It was used to examine different cleaning methods throughout the study.
Adopting this cleaning technology for these filters, the company can now reuse more than 10,000 air filters per year that before had been discarded. Not only will that save money but also will contribute to protecting the environment.
According to Mansour A. Al-Shafei and Gasan Alabedi of R&DC, the sonic cleaning process was tested late last year and will be fully operational this year.