Can a Transloader unload both Butane and Propane?
In short, yes. An S&S Transloader can unload Butane & Propane, depending on the temperature at your site and the time frame required to make the railcar transload occur.
Railcar transload and temperature.
There are multiple considerations as you finalize how you will be moving both butane and propane at your facility. Let’s evaluate the temperature side first. It is important to know what the ambient temperature will be at your site when you expect to unload each product (Propane C3H8 or Butane C4H10). The volume of any liquid in any container is directly related to its temperature. Propane volume rises in warmer temperature and falls in lower temperatures.
Transloading propane in cold temperatures impacts the speed in which you can move the product. The railcar transload speed can decrease as much as 25 – 30%. You can beef us your compressor, but propane has a high enough vapor pressure that unless you require a significantly high transload rate even in the winter the cost to your ROI isn’t worth it.
In very cold temperatures it is difficult to get good flow rates when Transloading Butane from rail cars. Transloading butane is different than propane in cold weather as butanes physical property changes dramatically causing almost no vapor pressure at all. It becomes difficult to transload butane unless you are using some sort of heat trace system to keep the temperature up.
Can I Transload Propane and Butane in the same system?
The properties of propane and butane are similar enough that the amount of product left in the lines when switching from transloading one to the other is negligible. The operator can, at the end of the transload process purge the lines back into the supply source, or if the concern is very high a nitrogen purge system can be added.
Time & Temperature
Those are the two things to consider. Do I have the time to transload butane at a slower rate in my cold months, what impact does that have on the railyard and keeping the gasses moving.
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