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Case Study: Overcoming Technical Challenges in Membrane Nitrogen System Deployment for NuStar Energy

In the realm of industrial gas solutions, navigating the complexities of large-scale projects requires not only advanced technology but also innovative thinking and strategic partnerships. Advanced Gas Technologies (AGT) stands at the forefront of this sector, providing cutting-edge membrane nitrogen systems that cater to a wide range of industrial needs.

Our recent collaboration with NuStar Energy, a leading midstream energy infrastructure provider, underscores AGT’s commitment to tackling complex challenges through innovation and customized solutions. This case study aims to illuminate the technical difficulties encountered during the project, the strategic solutions implemented, and the tangible results achieved.

Project Overview

The project commenced in early 2020, with NuStar Energy seeking an efficient and reliable nitrogen supply solution for their operations. The company required a membrane nitrogen generator for an application known as “blanketing.”

Nitrogen blanketing is a safety practice employed for storage tanks holding flammable liquids whereby nitrogen gas is used to blanket the tanks. Nitrogen gas, being completely inert, doesn’t react with other substances and prevents dangerous reactions or fires by displacing any oxygen in the tank headspace. Nitrogen acts as a protective barrier, ensuring materials inside, especially flammable or perishable items, remain safe. The necessary equipment, typically located outside the tank, often includes a machine that produces nitrogen onsite.

Given NuStar’s prominence in the energy sector, the project presented unique challenges that demanded a bespoke approach.

Technical Challenges

Dynamic Nitrogen Demand

NuStar’s highly variable demand for nitrogen gas posed a significant challenge. There were times during the day when nitrogen gas was not required and other times when a drop in temperature could trigger a significant very high volume flow of nitrogen gas. Therefore, the membrane system needed to adjust production in real time, ensuring optimal efficiency and minimal energy consumption.

Stringent Building Codes

California’s rigorous building codes required a creative compliance strategy. AGT’s solution involved deploying the very large capacity membrane nitrogen generator as mobile, trailer mounted units thereby circumventing the state’s stringent building regulations.

Long-Term Reliability

With NuStar needing a temporary nitrogen solution for two to three years, maintaining system reliability and efficiency was vital. Preventative maintenance contracts were developed to ensure optimum system reliability.

Project Timeline

Initial discussions between AGT and NuStar began in early 2020, with the project’s anticipated two-year lifecycle leading to final delivery in July 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic and associated supply chain disruptions presented additional timing and logistical hurdles, yet the project reached completion within the anticipated timeframe.

Innovative Solutions

Dynamic Control System

AGT designed and developed a sophisticated control system capable of real-time nitrogen production adjustments. This innovation minimized energy consumption while satisfying fluctuating demand.

Mobile Deployment

Transforming the unit into a mobile nitrogen generating system ensured compliance with California’s building codes and offered unparalleled flexibility. The use of modified 40-ft. sea “cans”—large, steel-framed storage and shipping containers—for housing the system exemplified AGT’s adaptable approach.

Resale Agreement

The establishment of an exclusive broker agreement to resell the system post-use underscored AGT’s commitment to creating value for NuStar Energy beyond the project’s lifespan.

Results and Benefits

Cost Savings

AGT’s membrane nitrogen system generated significant cost savings for NuStar Energy, reducing annual operational expenses from over $6 million USD to a small fraction of the operating costs NuStar had been incurring.

Compliance and Flexibility

The mobile deployment strategy ensured full compliance with California’s strict building codes while providing the flexibility needed for efficient nitrogen supply.

Long-Term Partnership

The resale agreement laid the foundation for a lasting partnership between AGT and NuStar Energy, opening avenues for future collaboration and growth.

Why Choose Advanced Gas Technologies?

The successful deployment of AGT’s membrane nitrogen generating system for NuStar Energy stands as a testament to our ability to overcome substantial technical challenges through innovation, strategic planning, and collaboration. This project not only delivered significant cost savings and operational efficiencies for NuStar Energy but also reinforced AGT’s position as a leader in the industrial gas solutions sector. Our ongoing partnership with NuStar Energy exemplifies our dedication to delivering value-driven solutions and exploring new opportunities for growth and advancement.

The system represents a milestone in AGT’s portfolio, showcasing our expertise in managing complex technical requirements and regulatory landscapes. We remain committed to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, leveraging state-of-the-art technology and fostering strong client relationships to achieve exceptional results.

For businesses and industries requiring onsite nitrogen generators that meet the highest standards of efficiency and reliability, AGT offers a pathway to success. Our experience with NuStar Energy demonstrates our capability to create custom-engineered nitrogen generating systems that meet the unique demands of our clients, ensuring their operations are supported by best in class membrane technology.

Contact us today to request a quote or for more info on our inventory of nitrogen generators for sale.

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