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As Equipment Ages, New Opportunities Unfold

The engineering tasks associated with the replacement and/or the reconfiguration of air separation systems is more often than not accomplished by the major industrial gas engineering-equipment suppliers -- Air Products, Praxair, etc. A smaller firm, Cryogenic Consulting Service, Inc. (CCSI), has emerged as a real competitor.

Cryogenic Consulting Service, Inc. completed four major air separation plant reversing heat exchanger projects in 1993 and 1994. A fifth project will be completed this month.

At U.S. Steel (Braddock, PA), Cryogenic Consulting Service had both engineering and overall job responsibility for the replacement of reversing heat exchangers in two 400 tpd oxygen plants owned and operated by U.S. Steel at its Edgar Thomson facility near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Air separation unit plant No. 1 was completed in 1993 and plant No. 2 in 1994.

At Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. (Steubenville, OH), CCSI provided engineering, specifications and job supervision for the revamp of the WPSC 400 tpd oxygen plant. In this plant, 32 existing warm and cold reversing exchangers were replaced with six large reversing exchangers, resulting in a considerable saving in the cost of replacement heat exchangers. Because of the change in number of heat exchangers, a complete redesign of the piping in the heat exchanger cold box was required. In addition, instrumentation, controls and valves were upgraded and replaced.

After completion of the 400 tpd plant project, CCSI proposed and executed an innovative approach in the replacement of heat exchangers for the WPSC 200 tpd "B" oxygen plant. Although the "warm end" exchangers removed from the 400 tpd plant were corroded and damaged, the "cold leg" reversing exchangers were in good condition. These exchangers from the 400 tpd unit were tested and remanifolded to become the new warm and cold reversing heat exchangers for the 200 tpd "B" plant. This approach saved WPSC the expense of purchasing new heat exchangers. CCSI also assisted de-bottlenecking the plant, including identifying and providing engineering for removing a distillation column bottleneck, allowing the plant to achieve over 300 tpd of oxygen production.

CCSI President Bernstein states, "Our main focus and market is providing independent operators of air separation plants and other industrial gas plants with engineering, design and operations support. In some cases this means actual project work, in other cases, CCSI provides design, engineering and supervision.

"We believe our technical expertise and know-how are on a par with that of major industrial gas engineering-equipment suppliers. But our small company can usually offer fast response and lower cost for either engineering or project work. And every clientís project utilizes engineers with thirty plus years of air separation engineering experience. We donít try to compete with the large companies in supplying standard or conventional air separation plants. Our major niche is fixing, revamping, or improving existing plant equipment and providing engineering and operational support."

In addition to the heat exchanger replacement projects, CCSI has provided partial or complete air separation plant designs for overseas clients in India, Taiwan and Korea. Designs were specifically customized to meet both client production needs and to utilize local fabrication capabilities.

Cryogenic Consulting Service, Inc. was started in 1966 by Joseph T. Bernstein. An engineer, Mr. Bernstein had prior experience at Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. and at Hydrocarbon Research. In 1973, Pat Burnett joined CCSI as Operations Manager. Mr. Burnett supplements Mr. Bernsteinís design and engineering experience with significant "hands-on" experience in plant operations and construction supervision. Mr. Burnett was Plant Manager at two large air separation plant facilities prior to joining CCSI. In addition to these two principals, CCSI has technical staff in process design, piping design and computer assisted drafting and design.

For further information, contact: Joseph T. Bernstein, Cryogenic Consulting Service, LLC, 115 Kettle Creek Road, Weston, CT 06883, USA; Tel: (203) 227-3305.

Note: this article reprinted with permission from Cryogas International Magazine (December, 1994). Contact Cryogas International at (718) 862-0624 or at www.cryogas.com.

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