January 20, 2014

Large Demands, Short Timeline For Local Refinery Upgrades

Interior of the back flow facility left little room for the water booster system.

Interior of the back flow facility left little room for the water booster system.

When a local refinery added a back flow prevention facility to their water service system back in 2009, they inadvertently created an adverse effect on the water pressure available to the refinery.

The back flow prevention facility intercepts a 12 inch water main originating from the local city’s water line. The water pressure entering the facility from the city varies from approximately 30 psi in the winter months to as low as 20 psi in the summer months.

The diverted flow through the back flow facility ultimately began to rob the refinery of precious operating pressure. As the water flow moved through the refinery, it also encountered additional losses, in the form of pipe, valve and fitting friction losses. This lower pressure required a solution, to ensure that the refinery has a reliable source of pressurized water, and can continue to function properly.

Metropolitan began to work with a local engineering company to derive and implement a reliable solution. All parties concluded that a water pressure booster system would need to be added to the back flow facility. The situation at the facility included a number of challenges, which would be sure to test the capability of any system’s manufacturer. One of the most challenging aspects involved the space limitation within the back flow facility itself.

The building was not designed to house additional equipment of the size required to overcome the reduced pressure dilemma. The 12 inch water service enters the facility, splits off into two 8 inch lines, each with its own large 8 inch back flow preventer, which is then combined back into one 12 inch main before leaving the facility on its way to the refinery. This large gallery of piping and equipment left little room for a water pressure booster system.

Secondly, the local refinery made it clear to all parties involved, that the water service upgrade project must be designed to ensure that the water demands of the facility would not adversely affect the operation of the city’s public water system. In addition, the application required that a number of large custom piping fabrications be provided beyond the boundary of the pumping system. These custom piping fabrications were required to mate precisely with the existing pipe connections within the facility, with no room for error.

Water pressure booster system added to the back flow prevention facility.

Water pressure booster system added to the back flow prevention facility.

Additionally and possibly the most critical situation facing the group, was reliability. The upgrade needed to be designed to eliminate any possibility that water service to the refinery could be interrupted.

Finally, the time line required to implement the solution was formidable. The team was only given 60 days during which to design, engineer, document, refine and manufacture the system. This challenge was coupled with the requirement that the installation take place, without interrupting flow to the refinery, or to anyone receiving water from the local city system.

The system featured an impressive operational design, which monitored flow and pressure to the refinery, as well as to the local city, and could adjust the operation according to the demands of one entity, without sacrificing operational effectiveness to the other.

The system was manufactured on time, and the delivery and installation were coordinated with seamless precision, allowing the refinery and municipal water to flow continuously during the entire upgrade process.

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