Posts tagged 'Chemical engineering'

Entering the World of Work

Ten years ago I started my first "proper" job. My first job after graduating, in the world of chemical engineering. I, along with about 20 other recent graduates, arrived at a conference center in the middle of the countryside near Peterborough to start working for British Sugar.

When I first ...

Autumn Scottish IChemE Events

This is a quick note detailing of some events coming up over the next few months.

Committee meeting: Next week

On Tuesday evening (4th of September) we will be holding our committee meeting of the Autumn in Glasgow. This is when we organise future activities and events.

If you would ...

Where are the Members of the IChemE Scottish Members Group?

The Institute of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) has two local members groups in Scotland, Aberdeen Members Group, which covers Aberdeen itself and the north of the country and the Scottish Members Group which covers everywhere else.

Historically that has meant that the Scottish Members Group has ended up being primarily focused ...

Disastrous Dinners: Imperial Sugar

The following is roughly what I intended to say during last nights Disastrous Dinners talk.

I didn't stick too strictly to the script, but you get the idea. There was a good discussion after the talk with extra questions.

If you want to attend the next talk in September ...

Another Talk Down

I am just in from presenting my second disastrous dinner. Here are my initial thoughts:

  • It doesn't seem to matter how many presentations I give, I always get ridiculously nervous before the event.
  • I always forget how nervous I get when I am organising before hand and only remember ...

Sugar Manufacturing is Dangerous Stuff

I have just had the realisation tonight that my Disastrous Dinners series of events have, so far, been fairly sugar industry focused.

The very first talk was on the Boston Molasses Flood - Molasses being a byproduct of the sugar industry.

I then had 3 presentations that did not involve the ...

Past Performance

I realise that I graduated university over 10 years ago now. Earlier today I wanted to check the exact date so I looked out a copy of my certificate. Sure enough, the 10 year anniversary was at some point last month. What was also stored with the certificate was my ...

A Message to IChemE Scottish Group Members

Last night I became the chair of the IChemE Scottish Members Group. I have just submitted an email to the members and I am placing a copy here.


This is a quick email in three parts:

  • An Introduction
  • A Request
  • An Event

An Introduction

My name is Alistair Marshall and ...

Alarms and HMI Presentation by Bill Hollifield

Yesterday I was able to attend a presentation on alarms and HMIs1by Bill Hollifield. Bill quiet literally wrote the books on alarms and HMIs.

The first part of the presentation was on alarm management, what problems different sites face and how to fix them. To be honest, there ...

Paying for Process Safety

After last night’s post, I received a comment via linkedin, pointing out that it takes a fair bit of money to produce quality content and it needs to get paid for some how. If companies are not willing to put the money in, then the only alternative is to ...

How is IChemE Involved with Process Safety

IChemE have just published a blog post How do we achieve, maintain and demonstrate competencies for process safety?.

IChemE and its members are intrinsically involved in sharing lessons through various streams of work; the IChemE Safety Centre, the Safety and Loss Prevention Special Interest Group, and producing journals and publications ...

Who is an Engineer

There has been a campaign for some years to try and get the term ‘Engineer’ protected in the same way that Architect and Doctor and a few other professions are. The reason being that engineers who have had to attend university to get a degree in engineering and then do ...

Disastrous Dinners: How a nuclear power plant interfered with food and drinks supplies

Last Wednesday, Iain Clenahan gave a presentation on an incident that happened in February 1997. This post is my attempt at summarising the talk.


Hunterston B is an Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor (AGR) nuclear power plant commissioned in the late 1970s. To cool the reactors, carbon dioxide (CO2) is circulated ...

Believing Instruments

This month’s process safety beacon is on trusting instruments. Or to be more accurate, what can happen when you don’t believe an instrument and it turns out that the instrument was correct. It has prompted me to write about an incident I experienced last year. Luckily in our ...

Paperwork is Pointless...

Paperwork is pointless if you don't do the rest of the work.

This is a general rule that applies in most cases, but what got my thinking about it today was in relation to safety paperwork such as risk assessments and method statements. Earlier this week, a company was ...

Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions Part 5

So it turns out there is a bit more I want to say about the Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions.

In yesterday’s post, I was rather critical of the immediate recommendations that were produced by the investigators. They seemed to be very focused on the human error side of things ...

Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions Part 4

In my final post on the Merrimack Valley Explosions1 , I want to cover the recommendations that were issued in the Safety Recommendation Report. The report makes five urgent recommendations, one to the state of Massachusetts and four to NiSource, Inc., the parent company of the operating company in charge ...

Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions Part 3

In today's post about the Merrimack Valley Explosions, I want to discuss the mitigating factors and layers of protection, or rather apparent lack of then in this case. Again I will clearly state, I don't have all the facts and am not in anyway involved. I only have ...

Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions Part 2

I mentioned in yesterday's post about a series of gas explosions that occured while I was visiting family in the USA last year. In this post I will cover how this event that 'looked like armageddon' according to a fire chief.

As with most utilities, the gas network consists ...

Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions Part 1

While I was in America last year, I saw news reports of an accident in Massachusetts where a local residential gas network was overpressured. This lead to lots of explosions and fires over three different towns. The local emergency services received over a hundred 911 emergency calls within a short ...

Advice to a 2nd Year Chem Eng Student

A friend asked me to give some advice to a second year chemical engineering student they had met at a networking event. What follows is a slightly edited version of the email I sent them.


Hi (name removed),

Your email address was passed on to me by (name removed) who ...

Fixing an Unintended Consequence

Today I implemented a fix that will hopefully avoid a repeat of an incident that happend last week. It is the sort of problem that I enjoy to work on. Why isn't this doing what we would expect? And more importantly how do I get it to do what ...

The Name: Disastrous Dinners

Someone has been in contact with me regarding the name of my series of talks: Disastrous Dinners. They have suggested that it may be insensitive and asked if another name might be more suitable. I understand the concern and I had discussed it with a few fellow iChemE members prior ...

Person Who Changes Computers That Control Wet Stuff

I have read lots of things in the last week talking about how we should write simpler and not to trust things that are written in a confusing way or using long words.

I know that I can be bad at this and so I would like to try and ...

Disastrous Dinners: First Event NEXT WEEK

Firstly, apologies for the last minute planning here. The first Disastrous Dinners Event will be on the 15th of January (a week on Tuesday). The reason for trying to get it organised in such a short period of time is to consider with the 100 year anniversary of the event ...

The Purpose of a Procedure

I frequently see people make a comment regarding procedures along the lines of "monkey see, monkey do", "they take the thought out of the job" or "they treat us like idiots".

I want to take this opportunity to say that is not how I see or use procedures. If you ...

Disastrous Dinners Survey Responses

Summary

Since the survey has been shared with IChemE members, there have been a over 70 responses, the vast majority of which have been very supportive. There seems to be a great deal of interest for such an event, mixing both a technical aspect and social setting. It was also ...

Disastrous Dinners Survey

I presented the suggestion to members of the IChemE committee tonight and the feeling was positive. The next stage is to publicise the survey:

Disastrous Dinners: Part social event, part technical talk and part workshop. Something for everyone!

We are looking to host a series of these events next year ...

Disastrous Dinners

I have just come up with an idea this evening for a regular IChemE event. I will take the time in this post to get my idea into the screen before deciding if it is a good idea or not.

Background

There are a few challenges that occur when trying ...

Stale Alarms

I have previously written about alarms and following on from yesterday's post I want to write about stale alarms.

These are alarms that initially come in, but for some reason the operator cannot remove them. They are usually classed as stale if they have been on the alarm page ...

What is an Alarm?

I have previously written about nuisance alarms particularly during shutdowns, but today I want to cover the fundamental questions of what an alarm is and what it is not.

The definition of an alarm is:

Alarm: An audible and/or visible means of indicating to the operator an equipment malfunction ...

Last Good Value from PI

Within our plant, we use the PI as our main plant historian. We can access process history using PI datalink to import the data into excel. There was a situation last week where I was attempting to create a dashboard view of the process.

Unfortunatly one of the tags I ...

Wattage of a Petrol Station

At last week's party, one of the discussions lead to the power demand of your typical petrol station1. What would the power requirement of a typical station be, if the energy from the fuel were supplied by electricity?

This is assuming you have some form of local storage ...

What Does a Control Engineer Do?

Today we had a school pupil shadowing our team, trying to work out what a carrier in chemical engineering would be like. Earlier in the week she spent time with developement and optimisation engineers but today it was the turn of the automation team to explain what control engineers do ...

Typeup of Proof Testing Webinar

Yesterday I viewed a webinar on proof testing1 organised by IChemE.

The presentation was a good overview and went at a decent pace for following along but was too fast for me to take any decent notes.

Below is a quick writeup of what I took from the session ...

Vanessa Sutherland - Trevor Kletz Memorial Lecture

Vanessa Sutherland was1 the Chair of the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) and delivered the fourth Trevor Kletz Memorial Lecture2 at the IChemE hazards conference.

I did not attend the lecture in person however the IChemE have put a video of the presentation online3.

Screenshot of video
Vanessa Sutherland: CSB ...

Steam Heating on Ceres

Yesterday I watched the latest video from the Isaac Arthur Science and Futurism youtube channel on Colonizing Ceres.

I have been enjoying these videos recently which offer hard sci-fi without any (or very minimal) plot. They look at what would be possible in the future assuming known science and only ...

APC vs Toddlers

Over the last few weeks, I have been commissioning a couple of new Advance Process Control (APC) schemes within the refinery and it occurs to me that this is very similar to looking after a toddler in the house.

Watching a Toddler

When looking after the little one, you can ...

pH Problems

During a cat reformer regen we are required to monitor the pH and alkalinity of a wash water solution in the process.

This year we had issues with controlling the alkalinity and we used so much of our neutralising solution, we ran out.

This post will explain the background and ...

The Keil Centre - Presentation

Yesterday I attended a presentation at the Keil Centre delivered by Janette Edmonds on 'Predictive Assessment of Human Reliability'.

Focus of the presentation was on prediction and looking forward to what could happen, rather than the traditional view of retrospectively looking into times something has gone wrong.

Human Reliability

While ...

Dynamic Alarms

Earlier today I commissioned a project I have been working on for the last year, ESD Dynamic Alarm Suppression.

When the Emergency Shutdown (ESD) System is activated, shutdown valves will close and pumps will stop. This normally causes a significant flood of extra alarms as the normal control system warns ...

JWF: Clamp on Flow Metering Technology

I have just attended a Lunch and Learn session delivered by JWF Process Solutions Ltd and hosted by the Institute of Measurement and Control East of Scotland Section.

This presentation focused on clamp on ultrasonic flow meters and their recent developments.

I have had a small amount of experience with ...

National Women in Engineering Day 2016 Webinar

I have just finished watching the "National Women in Engineering Day 2016 Webinar" hosted by IChemE. This was a pre-recorded webinar and contained interviews with three female engineers about their experiences within industry.

While I was able to watch without having to go anywhere else during the presentation, my internet ...

10 Ways Control Systems Lie

An Introduction to Instrumentation and Control

This Presentation was delivered on behalf of the IChemE Scottish Members Group on Thursday 2nd June 2016 at Ineos Grangemouth. I have attached a copy of the slides however they are not very descriptive on their own. This post is a summary of what ...

Quick Thoughts on the IChemE 2016 AGM

I am just back in the door from this year's Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) AGM which was held in Edinburgh. This post is to document a couple of quick thoughts that I had as I left the conference centre.

Diversity

A significant proportion of the incoming president's ...

I'm Giving a Talk

I had an odd experience last night when I received an email from IChemE inviting me to a presentation that is to be delivered by myself.

No getting out of it now then. My intent is to provide a general introduction to instrumentation and cover things that I have learnt ...

Mangled Brain

So I have just completed the course on advanced process control. It was interesting on Sunday night when I met the other course attendees.

There were eight attendees in total, I was the only Brit, all others were from continental Europe (Dutch, Belgian and German). There was a definite feeling ...

Training for the Training Course

So after yesterdays post concerning being slightly worried about switching back into control engineer mode, this morning I am even more worried.

I arrived at the hotel just in time for dinner and met five of the other attendees (there are eight of us in total on the course). All ...

Switching Brains

The Cat Reformer is mostly back together. Hopefully later today, hydrogen can be introduced. If everything goes well, feed should be put back in on Tuesday.

For myself though the TAR is over. I am currently on a train on my way to Cardiff for a training course next week ...

What is a TAR

We are currently about half way through the Cat Reformer turnaround (AKA TAR).

I was intending to write a detailed post about what a turnaround is, what happens during the turnaround and what it is like to work on one.

This would probably just end up turning into a giant ...