Acceptance, Applications Growing
All three companies report they’re making inroads into the process analytical market, and claim doubling sales each quarter. “There is a consensus that NeSSI has arrived,” says Dave Simko, Swagelok’s marketing resources manager. “Companies using NeSSI systems have shown that the cost savings are real. Although component cost is higher, savings in design time and manufacture generate 30% net savings.”
Swagelok’s Modular Platform Components (MPC) system (See Figure 1 above)
consist of fluid-control components, including shut-off, needle, metering, toggle and check valves, and filters, which are mounted on a substrate layer of 1.5-in.-square modules containing specialized channel and flow components.
|FIGURE 2: GO WITH THE FLOW PATH
|Three-way flow paths required by sampling systems are intrinsically supported by Parker Hannifin’s Intraflow substrate system.
Parker adds its Intraflow system (See Figure 2)
recently enabled a new flow-control system for dewpoint analysis at the Preem Refinery (formerly Scanraff) in Lysekil, Sweden. The field-mounted analyzer station monitors the moisture content of propylene gas in the refinery’s tanker-loading jetty area. “This new surface-mount technology reduces the space required to assemble analyzer stations, as well as the sampling volumes of the system,” says Tony Carlsson, Preem’s instrument engineer. “The plug-together nature of the Intraflow substrate greatly simplifies routine maintenance, such as replacing filters.”
Parker adds another advantage of Intraflow is its support for the three-way flow paths required for sampling systems, while Swagelok’s MPC system has sequential flow components that define the flow path. Alternatively, the main flow path in Circor’s micro Modular Substrate Sampling System (μMS³) is actually external to the Lego-like substrate’s building blocks, passing through NuBlu tubesets mounted on the blocks.
Despite these gains, Gunnell adds there are limits to NeSSI’s methods and technology. “You’re not going to get the manufacturers of battleship-sized gas chromatographs (GCs) to change, but a modular sampling system can still sit side-by-side with the analyzer.” Where does NeSSI go from here? Generation III systems will doubtless offer added functions, such as Koch’s “lab on a chip” and wireless communications, making them even easier to install and operate.
Dr. Mike Spear is an Editor-at-large for sister publication, Chemical Processing magazine, and is Editor of Process Engineering magazine in the U.K.