Propane & Butane Railcar Unloading

Propane and Butane Railcar Unloading. More and more, S&S Technical is being asked to assist in the design, engineering and manufacturing of railcar transloading systems for propane and butane terminals. The growth of the NGL markets resulting from an abundance of rich natural gas has many midstream groups building new rail terminals, expanding existing sites and even maintaining a fleet of transloaders for more remote locations.

What equipment should I have on my railcar unloading system?

There are a number of factors to consider when selecting the most efficient option for a transloading system:

  1. Which Products will you be unloading: Propane or Butane
  2. How many loading spots?
  3. Are they all the same product?
  4. What is the frequency of the railcar arrivals?
  5. How much time is allotted?
  6. What is the size of the operations team?
  7. And many others….

Answering these questions allows us to determine how much flexibility is required and is key to determining whether a single compressor skid or more automated multi-compressor systems may be utilized for transloading.

Single or Multi Compressor System, which is best?

Single compressor skids can manage from one to three railcar spots effectively and are best utilized when flexibility is required. When a larger number of cars will be transloading simultaneously, an automated, multi-compressor system may prove to be more efficient. These more automated systems require fewer operators and are scaled to maximize the offload rates effectively.

The use of Blackmer oil-free, reciprocating compressors has proven to be very effective at efficiently unloading the liquid product and recovering the valuable vapor and liquid heel. The Blackmer HD-series compressors offer industry-leading sealing technology and a more robust design to stand up to the rigorous duty of large rail terminal operations.

PLC automation on railcar transloaders?

Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) are utilized on all of our railcar transloading systems. Using a PLC to manage the alarms, start/stop function and other on-skid functions as well as additional operation flexibility and provides for easy output of signals and remote functionality for integration with the terminal DCS.

S&S Technical has designed and manufactured railcar offloading systems from single car operations up to 14 car simultaneous operations all for a variety of liquefied gases including: Propane, Butane, 1-Butene, Isobutylene and others. Our team can size, design and manufacture a scaled system for any size terminal application.

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