Innovation drives flue gas treatment.

08/11/2016
Working closely with Gasmet’s Belgian Distributor, Kelma NV, Lhoist has developed laboratory, pilot scale and mobile process monitoring capabilities to evaluate FGT products that are still in the development phase or to demonstrate the effectiveness of existing FGT products at customers’ sites.
lhoistpilotA business strategy with a heavy focus on innovation has enabled Lhoist, a family owned Belgian company, to become one of the world’s leading providers of Flue Gas Treatment (FGT) products and solutions. In this following article, Johan Heiszwolf, Lhoist’s R & D Director for environmental applications and Antti Heikkilä from gas analyser manufacturer Gasmet Technologies explain how Lhoist’s continual investment in innovation has led to impressive growth in a variety of market sectors, including FGT.

Sharing a common goal, experts in emissions monitoring and emissions abatement have formed a working partnership to develop innovative new materials for treating pollutants in flue gas emissions.

Lhoist history
Lhoist’s roots go back to 1889 when Hippolyte Dumont opened a factory in Belgium. Since that time, the firm has spread internationally: first to France in 1926 on the impetus of the founder’s son-in-law, Léon Lhoist, who further developed the company by acquiring lime, limestone and dolomite plants in Belgium and France. Today, Lhoist is a world leading producer of lime, dolime and minerals, with facilities across Europe, the Americas and Asia.

Over the past 35 years, Lhoist’s production has grown significantly and Lhoist now operates more than 100 facilities in 25 countries, with around 6,000 employees of around 40 nationalities.

Lime, clay and the derivatives of these materials are used in an extremely broad spectrum of industries including agriculture, construction, oil and gas, chemicals, glass, metals and environmental protection including water, wastewater and FGT.

The FGT market has grown considerably in recent decades as a result of higher environmental standards and the development of regulations that imposed emissions limits on industrial processes. These regulations have also driven growth in Gasmet’s business as process operators around the world have sought to monitor multiple gases simultaneously with FTIR analysers in order to demonstrate compliance with emission limits.

One of the reasons for the diversity of Lhoist’s markets is the company’s focus on innovation. Just outside Brussels, the company has established a ‘Business Innovation Centre’ (BIC) which is known as a ‘360 degree talent incubator’ because many of the group’s new recruits spend time at the BIC in order to learn about the group’s culture and its core competencies. Focusing on Research & Development, Intellectual Property, and Strategic Marketing, the BIC staff come from 15 different nations and are given time to spend ‘scouting’ for new scientific solutions to commercial challenges. This strong focus on inorganic and application research is one of the ways in which Lhoist retains its position as a leader in key markets and ensures that innovation continues to drive the growth of the company.

FGT Research
One of the first product groups to be developed by the Lhoist BIC was Sorbacal® which is employed for the removal of major acid pollutants (SOx, HCl and HF) in gaseous emissions from combustion plants such as power stations and incinerators. A number of different products within the Sorbacal® range were developed to meet the needs of different processes. For example, particles of Sorbacal® SP/SPS have a much larger surface area and pore volume in comparison with standard hydrated lime, so this product is employed in applications that require enhanced performance.

An enormous number of tests have to be undertaken to evaluate potential new products and in the case of FGT, the effectiveness of candidate products to remove pollutant gases is key. The BIC laboratory therefore developed a capability to generate artificial flue gas mixtures containing acid gases (SO2 and HCl) in a mixture of N2, O2, CO2, H2O and NOx. The gas composition of this artificial flue gas was tightly managed with mass flow controllers in order to ensure an accurate comparison of pre- and post-treated gas for each product under evaluation.

Different gas analysers were initially used to measure different gases. For example, an InfraRed analyser was used to measure SO2, but for this instrument it was necessary to remove moisture from the sample gas before analysis and some SO2 was lost from the sample as a result. “This complicated the work and incurred delays,” comments Alain Brasseur, Lhoist FGT Senior Research Engineer. “It was also necessary to operate a separate bench for HCl, which further extended the time taken for the tests and introduced a higher possibility of experimental error. A key advantage of FTIR is that it measures both SO2 and HCl, and does so without removing water from the sample.”

Bart De Backer from Gasmet’s local distributor Kelma was therefore contacted and asked to provide information on multigas monitoring with FTIR, which led to the utilisation of a Gasmet DX4000 analyser within the BIC laboratory. At the same time, the staff developed an automated system for running the test unattended, and as a result of the FTIR’s ability to monitor multiple gases in almost real-time in conjunction with test automation, the throughput of the laboratory was increased 10-fold. “The use of Gasmet FTIR gave us a greater insight into the characteristics of the sorbent and facilitated a major step forward in our development programme,” comments Alain Brasseur. “By dramatically increasing the throughput we were able to evaluate a larger number of samples in a shorter period of time, which enabled us to discount those products that failed to meet the required levels of performance at an early stage.”

The laboratory trials effectively assess the intrinsic capacity of the sorbents and if they perform well, the assessment process is continued in a pilot plant to evaluate performance under simulated operating conditions. The pilot plant was also developed by the Lhoist BIC, and is capable of generating a mixture of gases and steam at 180 Deg C to mimic aggressive emissions. The pilot plant is also able to measure sorbent performance under dynamic conditions with varying gas concentrations and temperature.

The pilot plant consists of two separate units – each capable of generating dynamic emissions across a broad range of conditions. The emissions from the older of the two units are monitored with a Gasmet DX4000 heated multigas FTIR analyser. A new pilot unit is monitored by Gasmet’s fixed Continuous Emissions Monitoring System (CEMS) which analyzes gas both before and after treatment using a heated switch-over system.

In addition to the chemical characteristics of the sorbent, Lhoist also places a heavy emphasis on its physical characteristics. For example, the grains of a dry powder product have to be fine enough to be reactive, but not too small to negatively impact the flow behavior of the powder.

In addition to the laboratory and pilot plant facilities, Lhoist has also developed a mobile system that is able to operate at customer sites. Historically, this necessitated the deployment of a large truck, but thanks to the compact nature of the portable FTIR analysers, this is no longer necessary; KELMA has supplied two Gasmet DX4000 portable FTIR analysers in customised rugged transport cases so that the monitoring equipment can be quickly and simply shipped around the world to customer sites. The FTIR analysers can even be operated completely remotely at a customer site. For example in a recent trial two FTIR analyzers, measuring inlet and outlet gas composition, were installed in a plant in the USA while they were monitored remotely from Belgium. The experts from KELMA could log-in to the FTIR analyzers and could perform a software update and calibration.

Onsite monitoring is conducted by Lhoist technical support teams to:

  • demonstrate the enhanced performance of the Sorbacal® products
  • show customers how to maximise treatment efficiency
  • help customers troubleshoot abatement issues

The benefits of onsite demonstrations are considerably advanced by the capabilities of FTIR gas analysis.

Advantages of FTIR gas analysis
FTIR (Fourier Transform InfraRed) is a sophisticated technology for analysing sample gases both qualitatively and quantitatively. The key feature of these instruments is their ability to monitor multiple compounds simultaneously. The Gasmet FTIR analysers are capable of measuring almost any gas and have been developed over many years specifically for the emissions monitoring market. This means that they are extremely rugged and work reliably in both fixed and portable versions. However, a key benefit for environmental applications is their ability to analyse hot, wet, aggressive gas mixtures.

All of the company’s FTIR instruments, fixed and portable, contain exactly the same core analyser which means that they can be operated with the same software, no extra training is necessary and results are directly comparable.

Using Calcmet™ software users of Gasmet analysers are able to analyse sample spectra, producing almost real-time data for pre-selected compounds. However, the retention of recorded spectra offers an opportunity to identify ‘unknowns’ by comparison with reference spectra, and to analyse recorded spectra retrospectively for compounds that were not necessarily of interest at the time of the measurement. For example, Lhoist now includes SO3 in many of its measurements and now has the ability to study measurements for this compound from readings that were taken in the past. This highlights an important advantage of FTIR – when it becomes necessary to measure new compounds, because of new legislation for example, no extra hardware is necessary, so the additional costs are negligible.

In contrast with many traditional gas analysers, the Gasmet FTIR instruments do not require periodic recalibration. A daily background spectrum measurement with zero gas (nitrogen) is enough to preserve measurement accuracy. Instead of periodic span calibrations, reference spectra for analysed gases are measured at the factory when the instrument is made and these do not drift.

From Lhoist’s perspective, Alain Brasseur says: “The ability to work with wet, corrosive gases is obviously a major advantage, and since we routinely analyse over 10 gases, monitoring is much less complicated now that we can do so with just one analyser.

“The size of the Gasmet analysers is also a major advantage for us – they fit neatly into the automated testing system which is installed in a normal lab fume cupboard, and the portable equipment is easy to transport to remote customer sites.

“We have found the instruments to be extremely reliable, requiring minimal maintenance. Also, the support from Gasmet and Kelma has been extremely good and the facility to connect to overseas instruments from Brussels via the internet has been a significant benefit.”

In summary, the evolution of Lhoist’s FGT products has been made possible by giving a talented pool of international experts the freedom to innovate and by working in partnership with like-minded technology leaders such as Gasmet.

@Gasmet_Tech #PAuto #Sorbacal #Lhoist

European automation award

28/01/2010

Emerging Company Award in the Automation and Control System Services in the EMEA market.

The 2009 Frost and Sullivan Emerging Company Award has been presented to Adroit Technologies for its distinct competence in catering to exact customer requirements in the EMEA (European, Middle East Africa) automation and control system services (ACSS) market. Having created a unique identity in the Southern African market, the company is now emerging as a strong participant in the European ACSS market. Adroit develops SCADA and HMI software for major process and discrete industries and has a diverse product offering specific to end-user requirements. The company’s aim to focus varied market segments and expand its customer base globally has forced it to take a leap, which has started yielding profitable results.

Joint Venture a Way to New Market Penetration

Being a small participant in the EMEA market has given Adroit the advantage and
opportunity of working closely with its customers. Started as a software producer for the SCADA/HMI and Reporting products the company is now focused on offering its VIZNET Information Portal product. Recognised by Microsoft, VIZNET is a software platform that answers the age old challenge of collaboration and content delivery of data, information and knowledge through a single Smart Client User Interface. The real-time mine operations management portal built by partner Polysphere was also based on the VIZNET product.

Product Features and Benefits

Distinctive advantage of VIZNET Information Portal introduced by Adroit in 2008 helps in retrieving the real-time data and combines it with the MIS, MES and ERP information. It presents these data in the reporting structure through a single-user interface. The wizard driven and visual configuration makes development and maintenance of any application quite simple. The security model, built on Microsoft’s active directory offers clients peace of mind when using the smart client connectivity over the internet.

Chart 1.1

Chart 1.1 provides EMEA Automation and Control System Services Market: Key Factors Contributing to Adroit’s Growth (EMEA), 2009

Diversified Focus

Award Description

The Frost & Sullivan Award for Emerging Company is presented each year to the company that has emerged as a significant participant within its industry. This company is perceived to have exhibited outstanding management, superior market growth, exceptional customer service and the ability to combine technology and successful strategic initiatives. This company has the exceptional know-how to take advantage of market changes through the execution of innovative strategies within the existing competitive landscape.

Research Methodology

In order to select the Award recipient, analysts quantify several market factors for each market participant according to predetermined criteria, paying close attention to their combined operations efforts. This process includes interviews with market
participants, customers, and suppliers, along with extensive secondary and technology research. The companies’ efforts are then analyzed based on the number of new customers, new segments, and commitment to business expansion coupled with market growth.

Measurement Criteria

In addition to the methodology described above, there are specific criteria used to determine final competitor rankings in this industry. The recipient of this Award has excelled based on one or more of the following criteria:

• Proof of success executing a restructuring strategy
• New market penetration (geographic, product, etc.)
• Marketing, promotion, and visibility of the company
• Degree of strategy innovation
• Technological innovation and leadership
• Increased name recognition
• Revenue and market share growth

The company is introducing the advanced alarm management product and a version 3 of VIZNET in May 2009. Knowing the fact that innovation is the key factor to compete in the dynamic market, Adroit invests close to 30 percent of its revenues in the research and development (R&D) activity annually. This has helped the company to survive even in the toughest period of economic slow down to have 30 percent growth in 2008 compared to the previous year. Adroit achieved this with a strategic approach where it focused on end users who were working on single-vendor approach. Adroit catered to these companies with its maximum benefits and at reduced cost.

Utilities and Energy Management – Need of the Hour
Adroit is a clear market leader in Southern African delivery in the latter half of 2008, Adroit added additional features to its maximum demand agent product which assists large companies in energy management. This product calculates the predicted maximum demand in any one metered period allowing demand side management to be carried out. This has helped the customers to limit the usage of power and electricity which had been the need of the hour. As reduced energy and fuel consumption can bring significant cost saving in the industry environment, Adroit is taking relentless efforts towards achieving this.

Their major end-user segments   are the water and the mining industries, some of the energy efficiency projects in which they participated in recent years were DBS Mines, PPC cements and Johannesburg Water plants.

Customer Testimony: “Girlock currently has an international SCADA product running at our other plants, but we are so impressed with the Adroit system, that we are considering switching all our SCADA software to Adroit,” says Andre Ziemski, Senior Project and Development Manager for Girlock

Wider Market Reach
With global expansion plans and clear focus on the target customers Adroit emanates its products with utmost efficacy. Participation in various industrial tradeshows, conferences and road shows has provided more visibility to the company. Some of the recent trade shows in which Adroit participated are CEBIT in March 2009, The Durban Control Road Show in March 2009 and SCADA & INDUSTRIAL AUTOMATION CONFERENCE in March 2009. In the process of educating its customers, they  frequent training programmes to the new, existing and advanced users of Adroit’s products. These courses last for 4-5 days on regular basis and customers can gain maximum knowledge out of these programmes, which would equip them to have a thorough understanding of Adroit’s products.

Adroit’s Corporate Social Responsibility
Having understood the need for expertise in the automation field, the company has started training the engineering students for a competitive future. Adroit’s corporate governance policy equips the students to gain expertise in the automation field and also provides qualified workforce to the company. Various other activities such as providing sponsorship for sports persons are also a part of the activity, which Adroit carries out for the public welfare.

Market Expansion
Adroit has installed close to 13,000 SCADA/HMI systems within EMEA and in the international market across different end-user segments such mining and water and wastewater after having understood the customer requirement completely. Adroit is concentrating more towards intelligent devices which aims at distributed process control and multifunctional communication protocols, providing customer friendly environment in the plants.

Geographic Penetration
The company works with reliable distributors who are also value-added resellers and systems integrators. This has provided Adroit more scope to clearly penetrate geographies such as Great Britain, Belgium, Italy, Poland, Canada, Australia, Thailand, New Zealand, South Korea and Malaysia with its capable partners in these geographies respectively. Adroit’s wider customer base extends to the following end users such as pulp and paper, food and beverages, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, cement and many others. Its serves more than 5000 clients and holds a strong presence in the South African market and is emerging as an efficient participant in the European automation market, handling most of the state-owned water and utilities projects. Apart from the process industries, the company is increasing its customer base in the telecommunication and the building management segments. It is also planning for global expansion by 2010 by partnering with the major automation companies.

Conclusion:
Adroit’s key strength lies in understanding the exact customer demand and catering to it without any deviation. Being an emerging participant in the EMEA market, the company has created clear visibility for its products. In the dynamic automation market, Adroit is witnessing a stable growth as a result of multiple partnerships and value-enhanced offering. The strategic focus towards market expansion and diversified end-user segments is making Adroit an emerging participant in the automation and control system services market. These factors make Adroit Technologies the deserving recipient for the 2009 Frost & Sullivan Emerging Company Award in the Automation and Control System Services in the EMEA market.


AN1H1 again?

31/05/2009

Measuring Body Temperature from a Distance to Prevent Spreading of AN1H1 (“Swine Flue”)

Xenics, leading developer of innovative infrared detection solutions for a wide range of applications headquartered in Europe, presents a secure and non-invasive countermeasure to the uncontrolled spreading of the respiratory disease, sometimes called swine flue, caused by the potentially pandemic virus AN1H1. Easily installed and operated at airports and border stations, Xenics offers the new Raven, an uncooled microbolometer infrared camera, which measures, from a safe distance and in real time, crucial differences in body temperature at an accuracy of up to 0.2°C – pinpointing any suspicious fevers in passing travelers.

raven-384 The Raven-384 is an infrared imaging camera, specially designed for the demanding security market. The thermal image is crisp and clear, even under difficult weather conditions and in complete darkness without the use of additional illumination. To meet the needs of the professional security community the Raven-384 can be configured with various lenses for short-range, medium-range and longrange observation. The camera interface can be PAL/NTSC video for a regular CCTV security network or optional Ethernet for a digital LAN. Standard delivery includes a common power supply and connecting cables. The integration and use of these infrared cameras are so easy, that no operator training is required.

With this IR camera solution for simple, reliable and stable operation in public places such as airports, bus, railway and metro stations, they are opening up an urgently sought and practical way to detect, at an early stage, dangerous viral diseases indicated by fever. As a diagnostic tool the Xenics Raven captures and displays on a PC screen linked via a simple Ethernet connection a high-definition infrared image at a high frame rate of 50Hz.

Temperature differences as small as 0.2°C can be detected, at a measuring sensitivity of 0.05°C. By using the reference method, putting a precisely controlled temperature reference in the field of view, Xenics eliminates the stability problem that microbolometer cameras usually have to cope with, thereby providing a stable and reliable screening. The high-definition image permits accurate fever detection in both individuals and crowds.

Generally, the measurement of body temperature from a distance is carried out with an infrared camera that detects the heat emitted from the human skin producing a temperature map like a camera in the visual realm recording a life scene. The result is a colour image whose various colour contours represent temperature gradients. Temperatures above a certain preset level can be highlighted.

Enabling reliable measurements, the unit requires only minimal set up and examination time. The Raven can be flexibly operated on a tripod or installed for permanent use. The company recommends the body temperature to be checked at the corner of an individual’s eye, where the temperature approaches the core body temperature. The examination takes no longer than a fraction of a second. Setup of the Raven is very simple. It requires minimum operator training of less than one hour before being fully operational.

Even a systematic, collected crowd screening is feasible via the Raven’s high-definition image. Automatic alerts can be triggered by adjustable thresholds preferably set at 1°C above average temperature, with visual and/or audible alarms. Operation of the Raven is discrete -at a 50Hz frame rate, there is no hampering of pedestrian flow. The Raven provides accurate and stable temperature measurement via precisely controlled black-body reference.

“We are broadening our product portfolio as well as our strategic presence in the world markets, changing from a mainly technology-driven to a fully market-driven approach,” says Xenics founder and CEO Bob Grietens. “In addition to our fast growing business in advanced InGaAs SWIR imagers we are entering the markets for uncooled bolometer solutions based on our application oriented R&D portfolio.”

See also our item on Swine Flu posted 5th May 2009.