DOST touts gamma-ray scanning technology

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Photo credit: www.iaea.org Photo credit: www.iaea.org[/caption] The technology makes it possible to ?see? inside a process vessel, such as distillation columns in refineries or petrochemical industries, and quickly identify its problems without interrupting normal plant operations. Such technique saves the company time, money, and other resources. Called density profile, the technique provides significant information on the condition of the whole process and the vessel itself. Engineers, using the technology can identify damaged or missing trays and their positions, extent of flooding and its location, liquid weeping and foaming, liquid levels, and blockages, among others. With the technology, engineers and operators can determine the status of the column and consequently make arrangements for maintenance and troubleshooting to prevent emergency shutdown. Since the process does not involve direct contact with the insides of the vessels, it also avoids potential corrosion, temperature or pressure problems. The precision nuclear tool could prove useful beyond troubleshooting structural problems. The data gathered may also be used to improve the structures and processes of the plant, thus making them more efficient and reducing production down-time in cases of programmed shutdowns. Meanwhile, process columns are crucial components in refining crude oil to turn it into valuable fuel, as well as in sustaining the plant?s cooling systems, among others. Plant shutdowns for maintenance could cost around $1,200 per hour overseas, translating into millions of pesos in losses everyday for the local operators. Prospective clients of the gamma-ray column scanning service range from members of the oil industry to operators of chemical plants. Since the late 1990s, PNRI experts have provided gamma-ray services to major oil companies with local operations in the Central and Southern Luzon and local petrochemical companies. The Department of Science and Technology Grants-in-Aid project also kept the service and equipment upgraded with automated data-logging software and scanning systems. ]]>

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