(Newsletter, Dec., 2023)

Welcome to our latest newsletter! Today, we’re diving into the efficient unloading of butane from rail cars to storage using compressors, emphasizing design considerations based on industry standards. We will explore key codes and regulations, and address challenges associated with low vapor pressure butane in cold weather, along with the role of vaporizers in overcoming these hurdles. Additionally, we will also discuss rail car unloading racks and custody transfer metering skids necessary to complete your next butane rail offloading system.

Butane Rail Unload Skid

1. Compressor-Powered Butane Unloading: Design Considerations

When designing a butane unloading system, engineers must carefully consider various factors to ensure safety, efficiency, and compliance with industry standards. Here are key design considerations:

  • Compressor Selection: Choose compressors with the capacity to handle the required flow rate for efficient butane unloading.
  • Material Compatibility: Select materials that are compatible with butane and resistant to corrosion, ensuring the integrity of the system over time.
  • Pressure Relief Systems: Incorporate pressure relief systems to prevent over pressurization, safeguarding the equipment and personnel.
  • Emergency Shutdown Procedures: Implement fail-safe mechanisms and emergency shutdown procedures to respond quickly to any unforeseen issues.
  • Safety Instrumented Systems (SIS): Utilize SIS to automatically take corrective actions in the event of abnormal operating conditions.
  • Ventilation and Gas Detection: Install adequate ventilation systems and gas detection devices to monitor butane levels and ensure a safe working environment.

2. Codes and Regulations: Compliance is Key

Adhering to industry standards and regulations is paramount in the design and operation of butane unloading systems. Key codes include:

  • NFPA (National Fire Protection Association): NFPA 58 provides guidelines for the safe storage, handling, and use of liquefied petroleum gas, including butane.
  • ANSI (American National Standards Institute): ANSI/ISA-84.00.01-2004 outlines the requirements for the application of safety instrumented systems.
  • NEC (National Electrical Code): Compliance with NEC ensures the safe installation and operation of electrical systems, including those associated with butane unloading.
Compressor Skid

3. Cold Weather Challenges and Vaporization Solutions

Operating in cold weather poses unique challenges, especially when dealing with low vapor pressure butane. Here’s how to address these challenges:

  • Vaporization Systems: Incorporate vaporizers to facilitate the unloading process by converting liquid butane to vapor, ensuring consistent flow rates in colder temperatures.
  • Insulation and Heat Tracing: Implement proper insulation and heat tracing to prevent the formation of condensation in the vapor return piping system to prevent compressor damage.
  • Monitoring Weather Conditions: Stay informed about weather forecasts to anticipate temperature drops and take preventive measures accordingly.

Continuing our exploration of butane unloading optimization, let’s delve into the installation of a rail car unloading rack and the crucial considerations for platform design. This addition not only enhances operational efficiency but also ensures compliance with OSHA guidelines and supports the various components needed for a seamless unloading process.

Compressor skid

a. Rail Car Unloading Rack: Streamlining Operations

Adding a dedicated rail car unloading rack brings several benefits, including controlled unloading, enhanced safety, and efficient product transfer. Here are key considerations for designing a platform that adheres to OSHA guidelines:

Platform Design Considerations:

  • Clear Walkways: Ensure unobstructed walkways on the platform for easy access and movement, aligning with OSHA’s guidelines for safe working environments.
  • Handrails and Guardrails: Install sturdy handrails and guardrails along the platform edges and stairways to prevent falls and provide a secure working environment.
  • Emergency Egress: Incorporate clearly marked emergency exit routes with easy access points to meet OSHA requirements for quick evacuation in case of emergencies.
  • Safe Access Points: Design the platform with safe access points to rail cars, considering OSHA’s recommendations for safe and controlled access during unloading operations.
  • Fall Protection Systems: Implement fall protection systems, such as access gangways with safety cages, to comply with OSHA standards and ensure worker safety at elevated areas.

b. Load Rack as a Support Structure: Maximizing Utility

Butane Rail Unload Rack

The rail car unloading rack can serve as more than just a platform—it can also support essential elements of the unloading system:

  • Piping and Utilities: Utilize the load rack structure to support piping and utilities, optimizing space and creating a streamlined layout for efficient butane transfer.
  • Cable Tray Installation: Incorporate cable tray systems on the load rack to organize and support electrical cables, ensuring a neat and organized infrastructure.

c. Unloading Arms for Seamless Connections

To facilitate efficient product and vapor connections, consider the use of unloading arms:

    • Product Connection: Unloading arms provide a flexible and secure means of connecting to the rail car, minimizing the risk of leaks and ensuring a controlled transfer of butane.
    • Vapor Connection: Implement vapor connection systems on top of the rail car for safe and efficient vapor recovery, aligning with environmental and safety standards.

    Let’s explore the integration of custody transfer metering skids to streamline loading processes, ensuring accuracy, compliance, and seamless documentation. Here are key elements to consider when implementing these skids in your rail car loading system:

    1. Controls for Precision Loading

    Custody transfer metering skids offer precise measurement and control of butane transfer rates. Ensure that the controls are equipped with:

    • Flow Measurement Devices: Employ highly accurate flow meters to precisely measure the quantity of butane being transferred during loading.
    • Automated Control Systems: Implement automated control systems to regulate the flow and optimize loading efficiency, reducing the risk of overloading or underloading.

    2. Ground Verification Systems

    To enhance safety and prevent any accidental release of butane, incorporate ground verification systems into the metering skids:

    • Grounding Devices: Install grounding devices to ensure that the rail car and the skid are properly grounded before initiating the loading process, reducing the risk of static electricity-related incidents.
    • Verification Sensors: Utilize sensors to confirm the ground connection, providing an added layer of safety and compliance.

    3. Emergency Shutdown Mechanisms

    Custody transfer metering skids should be equipped with robust emergency shutdown systems to promptly respond to unforeseen situations:

    • Emergency Shutdown Buttons: Install easily accessible emergency shutdown buttons to quickly halt the loading process in case of emergencies or abnormal conditions.
    • Automated Shutdown Protocols: Implement automated shutdown protocols triggered by safety instrumented systems (SIS) to respond swiftly to critical events.

    4. Bill of Lading Printing Capabilities

    Streamline documentation and ensure accurate record-keeping by incorporating features that allow for the printing of a bill of lading:

    • Integrated Printing Systems: Enable the metering skids with printing capabilities to generate a comprehensive bill of lading, including critical information such as quantity, quality, and destination.
    • Data Logging: Implement a secure data logging system to store loading data for future reference, audits, and compliance verification.

    By integrating custody transfer metering skids with these features into your loading system, you can achieve not only precise and controlled loading but also enhanced safety and compliance.

    Combining these design considerations, adhering to industry standards, and addressing cold weather challenges, engineers can optimize the butane unloading process for enhanced efficiency and safety.

    Thank you for staying connected with us. If you have any questions or would like further information, please feel free to reach out.

    Newsletter Subscription

    Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates.

    Talk To One Of Our Engineers Today Request a Quote

    Thanks for your interest in S&S Technical and quality meter and transfer systems.

    If you need more info, give us a call 678-867-7024 or enter email below to receive our monthly newsletter updates.