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Small Industry with many cars

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Small Industry with many cars
Posted by ericsp on Monday, February 23, 2009 12:00 AM

Here is another small industry with many cars. It is a natural gas fractionation plant. The main plant and some of the storage tanks appears to fit into about a 900 foot by 450 foot area with more storage tanks and the loading racks extending beyond this area. However, there are about 40 cars at the loading racks, meaning it probably would not be much of a stretch to make the loading racks and plant smaller to fit into a smaller area on a layout. 

Live Maps Bird's Eye View 

Satellite photograph

Here are links to similar threads.

Small Industry, Many Hoppers

Small Industry, Many Hoppers 2

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Posted by ericsp on Thursday, February 26, 2009 10:23 PM

Here is another view that shows all of the plant and loading racks.
 

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Posted by egmurphy on Sunday, March 1, 2009 8:33 PM

I'm no expert on NGL plants (although I have been involved in some) but I'll offer my thoughts on modeling them.  A gas separation plant is certainly an interesting idea for an industry.  While they don't require anything in the way of loads in, they can create a lot of tank car loads of product out.

Gas plants, like any kind of refinery or chemical plant, are incredibly complicated animals.  You normally picture the main towers and drums, and maybe the main piping, but in reality there are hundreds of pieces of equipment, thousands of feet of piping, instruments, electrical, etc.  About all any modeler can reasonably expect to do is create the illusion or idea of an operating plant.  Fortunately you're not likely to get many process engineers viewing and critiquing the layout.

The size of the plant itself (if we exclude ancillary units that may be necessary for utilities, purification, or post processing) doesn't really vary too much with capacity.  That's because while the size of the equipment and piping may be smaller, you still generally need all the same pieces.  A distillation tower for xxxx scfd (standard cubic feet / day) production may be 9' in diameter and 200' tall.  The same tower for a throughput of 1/4 that volume may be 7' diameter and 100' tall.  But by the time you add in the almost standard clearances between equipment, standard piperack widths, etc, the end result is that a much smaller capacity plant may be only slightly smaller in area.

I think the best approach on a plant like this, as for any refinery or chemical plant, is to concentrate on the important aspects from the railroading point of view.  In this case that's the loading rack (how many cars do you want to be able to handle), the storage facilities (in the case of NGL we're talking bullets and/or spheres) and a piperack between the storage and the process unit.  Rather than trying to shrink the main process unit, I suggest that the main process unit itself can better just be simulated by a photo/painting on a backdrop, or a combination of backdrop along with a few select pieces of equipment (towers/tanks, etc) in front of the backdrop.

In the end a lot comes down to artistic license.  Trying to recreate an accurate model of a plant, even a small one, is likely to be a frustrating and time consuming job (not that it can't be done).  I think it's better to spend time modeling the back end, and just do enough of a plant to give the idea that there's something there that can generate the product that we're interested in. 

Best regards

Ed

The Rail Images Page of Ed Murphy "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home." - James Michener
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Posted by ericsp on Monday, March 2, 2009 1:54 AM

Thanks, Ed.

I was looking at the aerial photographs and had a few ideas to make the plant smaller.

First, I noticed that there is a lot of empty space in the plant, perhaps for safety reasons. While it probably would not be prototypical for a plant outside of a city, with probably cheap land, to be compacted into a small space, I suppose for a model that much of that space could be eliminated.

Also, while reducing the capacity may not the size of the process area much, one could significantly reduce the sizes of the storage and loading areas (there are 42 cars at the racks in the link in my second post).

A third idea would be to eliminate the bullet tanks and use only spherical tanks for gas storage and use tanks that are taller than they are wide for liquids storage. Also, perhaps one could use higher dikes to make the diked areas around the tanks smaller.

From a non-process engineer's point of view, I think that the process area could be represented using a Walthers (currently out of production) and/or Plastruct refinery or two. I think that the Plastruct refinery would definitely require two kits. What do you think? Of course one would need to include a compressor building and a administration & maintenance building.

I perfer to include the plant. However, if one does not care about including the plant, one could model the loading racks of Inergy's plant west of Bakersfield, CA. The plant is 7 miles from the loading racks.

http://www.inergypropane.com/midstream_WC/index.asp 

Here is a satellite photograph, no Bird's Eye views are available for that area.

Another possibility is underground storage of LPG.

Satellite photograph

Bird's Eye View

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Posted by egmurphy on Monday, March 2, 2009 4:17 PM
I was looking at the aerial photographs and had a few ideas to make the plant smaller.  First, I noticed that there is a lot of empty space in the plant, perhaps for safety reasons. While it probably would not be prototypical for a plant outside of a city, with probably cheap land, to be compacted into a small space, I suppose for a model that much of that space could be eliminated.
Sure, no problem in reducing the amount of empty space.  And there are lots of parts of that particular plant that could be eliminated or not modeled.  There are at least two separate process units in the photo.  My guess is that one is the distillation unit and the other is likely to be some type of treater/purifier.  The long building at the left is probably a compressor building.  The cluster of white tanks and the building just to their right probably represents a water treatment area.  You’ve got a maintenance building, a couple sets of offices, a truck loading area, a truck scale and a control room.  Tons of product storage, and a really long railcar loading rack.  Plus other stuff that isn’t easy to identify at a quick glance.All you really need would be a distillation unit (or something to represent that), storage and loading.  Anything else is optional depending on how much space you have or want to dedicate to the plant.
Also, while reducing the capacity may not the size of the process area much, one could significantly reduce the sizes of the storage and loading areas (there are 42 cars at the racks in the link in my second post).
Sure, you’re going to size the loading rack to either suit the space you have available or the amount of traffic you want to generate (# of cars / day).
A third idea would be to eliminate the bullet tanks and use only spherical tanks for gas storage.
Rather than eliminate the bullet tanks, why not just use fewer and shorter ones? 
... and use tanks that are taller than they are wide for liquids storage
Probably not correct.  These liquids (if we’re talking NGL) are only liquid because they are under pressure.  (Think the butane in a Bic lighter).  They need to be stored in bullets or spheres.That cluster of regular storage tanks you see in the plant are probably for water storage (raw water, demin water, potable water, etc)
Also, perhaps one could use higher dikes to make the diked areas around the tanks smaller.
Sure.  Don’t be overly concerned with containment areas.  These liquids will flash off as soon as they start to leak out.... and probably go “Boom” if they encounter a spark.
Another possibility is underground storage of LPG.
I suppose you could, but you’d be giving up one of the more interesting parts (from the railroad interaction point of view).

I prefer to include the plant. ... From a non-process engineer's point of view, I think that the process area could be represented using a Walthers (currently out of production) and/or Plastruct refinery or two. I think that the Plastruct refinery would definitely require two kits. What do you think? Of course one would need to include a compressor building and a administration & maintenance building.

As long as you’re not concerned with being accurate, any combination of process equipment could be passed off as a separation plant.  I’m not familiar with those kits myself, so I can’t comment.  Compressor buildings are easy since you just need a modern style metal sheathed building that’s higher than normal.  

Regards

Ed 

 

The Rail Images Page of Ed Murphy "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home." - James Michener
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Posted by ericsp on Tuesday, March 3, 2009 12:24 AM

Thanks, Ed.

I noticed that some NGL plants produce natural gasoline. From looking at various MSDS, I noticed that the composition can vary from a large percent of butane to a large percent of larger hydrocarbons. Do any know if NGL plants produce natural gasoline with a high percent of larger molecules? If so, would they use atmospheric tanks for its storage?

The idea behind using only spherical storage tanks for gases is to model a higher capacity plant in a smaller space. I have looked at other photographs of spherical storage tanks and noticed some did not have dikes. I wonder why that plants does have them. 

"No soup for you!" - Yev Kassem (from Seinfeld)

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