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Air Liquide : Patent Issued for Method and Device for Filling a Tank with Liquefied Gas (USPTO 9765931)

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09/28/2017 | 11:21pm CEST

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Journal of Engineering -- From Alexandria, Virginia, VerticalNews journalists report that a patent by the inventors Beuneken, Olivier (Paris, FR); Ammouri, Fouad (Massy, FR); Colom, Sitra (Suresnes, FR); Delclaud, Marie (Juvisy-sur-Orge, FR); Thomas, Arthur (Noisy le Roi, FR); Wojdas, Olga (Juvisy-sur-Orge, FR), filed on October 10, 2013, was published online on September 19, 2017.

The patent's assignee for patent number 9765931 is L'Air Liquide, Societe Anonyme pour l'Etude et l'Exploitation des Procedes Georges Claude (Paris, FR.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention relates to a filling method and device.

"The invention relates more particularly to a method for filling a liquefied gas tank, notably a cryogenic liquid tank, from a liquefied gas reservoir, notably a cryogenic liquid reservoir, the reservoir being fluidically connected to the tank via a filling pipe, the method using a pressure differential generating member for selectively transferring liquid from the reservoir to the tank, the pressure differential generating member being switchable to an on state or an off state, the filling pipe comprising a liquid flow regulating member positioned downstream of the differential generating member, the flow regulating member being movable between a no-flow position in which the flow of liquid is interrupted and at least one flow position in which the flow of liquid is transferred to the tank at a determined flow rate, the method comprising a step of starting the filling, during which step the flow regulating member is moved from the no-flow position to a flow position and a measurement of a first instantaneous pressure in the filling pipe downstream of the flow regulating member.

"More generally, the invention may be applied to the filling of any cryogenic container (mobile or otherwise) from any other cryogenic container (mobile or otherwise).

"The increasing demand from users for higher-pressure cryogenic liquid stores or reservoirs has led to the systems that fill these reservoirs being equipped with high-pressure pumps, which means to say pumps operating at pressures of between 24 bar and 40 bar. These same filling systems equipped with high-pressure pumps are called upon to fill low-pressure stores rated for pressures of 2 to 15 bar.

"It is therefore necessary to fit the receiving reservoir and/or the filling device with a safety system that prevents the tank from being overfilled or over pressurized which would cause this tank to burst. Because the number of tanks to be filled is markedly higher than the number of filling devices, the safety system preferably applies to the filling devices.

"There are various safety systems in existence for avoiding such phenomena.

"Thus, one known solution is to equip the filling port of the tank with a pneumatic valve which closes when the pressure in the tank reaches a determined threshold. This solution does, however, have disadvantages which include the need to plan maintenance for this pneumatic valve and a high cost of installing it on all the tanks that require protection.

"Another known solution is to provide a calibrated orifice at the tank filling port in order to keep the filling flow rate within safe ranges, typically to a flow rate that the existing safety members of the store can discharge. This solution is also installed on the tanks and penalizes filling time.

"Another solution uses a rupture disk or a safety valve on the tank. This type of equipment has to be rated with care. However, this rating may be incompatible with the internal pipes of the tank. In addition, if activated, expelled liquid has to be dealt with in an area that presents no risk to the operators. Finally, rupture disks may be subject to corrosion or mechanical fatigue requiring them to be replaced by a qualified technician.

"Another solution is to provide an electric overpressure detection system on the tank (if appropriate via a thermistor at the overflow gauge valve) which, in response, stops the filling pump. However, this solution requires special connectors between each tank and each filling device and, where appropriate, relies on action on the part of the operator.

"Another solution (cf. for example WO2005008121A1) consists in measuring the pressure at the tank via a safety hose provided for this purpose so as to stop the pump if a problem occurs. However, this solution requires an additional hose connection and suitable circuitry on the tank.

"Another solution detects any potential over consumption of the pump and if appropriate switches it off. However, this solution can be applied only to variable-speed electric pumps and unwanted stoppages may be generated.

"Another solution is to provide specific fluidic connections between filling devices and tanks according to determined pressure ranges. This solution imposes obvious constraints in terms of logistics in particular.

"The document U.S. Pat. No. 6,212,719 describes a system for automatically stopping a filling pump if the supply hose ruptures using two pressure sensors arranged at the two ends of the transfer hose. Detection of a fall in pressure triggers the stopping of the pump."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "One object of the present invention is to alleviate all or some of the abovementioned disadvantages of the prior art.

"To this end, the method according to the invention, which in other respects is in accordance with the generic definition thereof given in the above preamble, is essentially characterized in that, after a determined duration following the starting of the filling, the method comprises comparing the first instantaneous pressure in the filling pipe, or a mean of this first instantaneous pressure, against a determined high threshold and, when the first instantaneous pressure in the filling pipe or, as the case may be, the mean of the first instantaneous pressure exceeds the high threshold, a step of interrupting the filling.

"Moreover, some embodiments of the invention may comprise one or more of the following features:

"the flow regulating member comprises or consists of a valve, for example a valve with variable opening,

"the first pressure in the filling pipe is measured when the latter is in communication with the inside of the tank, namely when the filling pipe allows flow between the first pressure measurement point and the inside of the tank,

"during or after the starting of the filling, the method comprises determining a first reference instantaneous pressure (PT3ref) or a mean of reference instantaneous pressures (mPT3ref) in the filling pipe, and in that the high threshold (Pmax) is defined by the sum of, on the one hand, the first reference instantaneous pressure (PT3ref) or, as the case may be, of the mean of reference instantaneous pressures (mPT3ref) and, on the other hand, of a determined pressure jump (Po) (Pmax=PT3ref+Po or, as the case may be, Pmax=mPT3ref+Po),

"the determining of the first reference instantaneous pressure (PT3ref) or, as the case may be, the mean reference instantaneous pressure (mPT3ref) in the filling pipe is performed at least a first time via a measurement of the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) in the pipe or, as the case may be, of a mean (mPT3) of several measurements of this first instantaneous pressure (PT3) in a determined time interval of between zero and 180 seconds around at least one of the following events: the switching of the differential generating member from the off state (AR) to the on state (M), the start of a transfer of fluid from the reservoir to the tank,

"after the first reference instantaneous pressure (PT3ref) or, as the case may be, the mean reference instantaneous pressure (mPT3ref) has been determined and, during filling, the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) in the pipe is measured regularly and, if the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) measured in the pipe or, as the case may be, the mean thereof drops below the first reference instantaneous pressure (PT3ref) previously adopted or, as the case may be, the reference mean (mPT3ref) thereof, a new reference instantaneous pressure (PT3refb) or, as the case may be, a new reference mean (mPT3b) is determined and used to define a new high threshold (Pmax=PT3refb+Po, or, as the case may be, Pmax=mPT3refb+Po),

"a new high threshold (Pmax) is calculated upon each measured drop of the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) below the current first reference instantaneous pressure (PT3ref) previously adopted, as the case may be, upon each measured drop in the reference mean (mPT3) below the current reference mean (mPT3ref) previously adopted,

"the step of determining the first reference instantaneous pressure (PT3ref) in the filling pipe comprises at least one measurement of the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) in the pipe in a time interval of between zero and 180 seconds after a switching on (M) of the pressure differential generating member or in a determined time interval of between zero and 180 seconds after the starting of the actual transfer of a flow of liquid to the tank, the first reference instantaneous pressure (PT3ref) being the value measured during the at least one pressure measurement or a mean of this at least one pressure measurement,

"the step of interrupting the filling comprises at least one of the following: reducing or stopping the circulation of liquid in the filling pipe, stopping the pressure differential generating member, a purging of at least part of the filling pipe to a discharge zone distinct from the tank, activation of a bypass returning the liquid circulating in the filling pipe to the reservoir, the emission of a visual and/or audible alarm,

"the pressure differential generating member comprises at least one of the following: a pump, a vaporizer for selectively pressurizing the reservoir, is selectively switchable between an on state and an off state, the method comprising a switching on of the pressure differential generating member and in that the pressure differential generating member is switched to its off state automatically in response to at least one of the following situations: the variation in the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) in the filling pipe during a determined time before a flow of liquid is actually transferred to the tank is greater than a determined variation (V) (.DELTA.PT3>V), a determined variation in flow rate (Q) and/or a determined variation in a second instantaneous pressure (PT2) in the pipe T(3) downstream of the pressure differential generating member is detected while the pressure differential generating member is not in the switched-on state (M), after a determined time following the switching on of the pressure differential generating member, the variation in the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) in the pipe and/or the variation in flow rate (Q) remains below a determined level, after a determined time following the switching on of the pressure differential generating member or the start of transfer of a flow to the tank, or even after a determined quantity of fluid has been transferred to the tank, the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) in the pipe remains above a determined high level, after a determined time following the switching on of the pressure differential generating member or the start of transfer of a flow to the tank, or even after a determined quantity of fluid has been transferred to the tank, the differential (PT2-PT3) between, on the one hand, a second instantaneous pressure (PT2) measured at the outlet of the pressure differential generating member, upstream of the flow regulating member, and, on the other hand, the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) measured in the pipe downstream of the flow regulating member is less than a minimum differential preferably between 0.5 bar and 2 bar, a fall in the first pressure (PT3) of at least one bar per second is measured, notably corresponding to a rupture of the filling pipe

"the method comprises a switching on (M) of the pressure differential generating member, the step of interrupting (AR) the filling when the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) or, as the case may be, the mean instantaneous pressure (mPT3) in the filling pipe exceeds the high threshold (Pmax) being performed only at the end of a timing step (A) notably designed to allow the conditions in which liquid is transferred to the tank to stabilize, the timing step (A) beginning with the switching on of the pressure differential generating member or with the transition of the regulating member to the flow position and having a determined finite duration,

"during or before the determined duration following the starting of the transfer of a flow of liquid to the tank, any potential variations in the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) measured in the filling pipe or variations in the mean of these measurements above the high threshold (Pmax) do not trigger the stopping of the filling,

"after the pressure differential generating member has been switched on (M) and the flow regulating member has been moved from its no-flow position into its flow position, if a drop in the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) in the filling pipe at a rate of at least one bar per second is detected, the operation of the pressure differential generating member is automatically switched off,

"at the start of filling the method comprises measuring the so-called 'reference' value of the first instantaneous pressure (PT3ref) or of a reference mean of the instantaneous pressure (mPT3ref) in the filling pipe, and when the reference instantaneous pressure (PT3ref) or the reference mean instantaneous pressure (mPT3ref) is higher than a predetermined low value and lower than a predetermined high value, the high threshold (Pmax) is less than or equal to twice and preferably less than one and a half times the value of the first reference instantaneous pressure (PT3ref) or, as the case may be, the mean reference instantaneous pressure (mPT3ref) (Pmax.ltoreq.2PT3ref, and preferably Pmax.ltoreq.1.5PT3ref or, as the case may be, Pmax.ltoreq.2mPT3ref and preferably Pmax.ltoreq.1.5mPT3ref), the predetermined low value preferably being comprised between three and five bar, the predetermined high value preferably being comprised between nineteen and twenty-five bar,

"the pressure differential generating member comprises at least one of the following: a pump, a heater, a vaporizer,

"the start of filling corresponds to at least one of the following: the switching on of the pressure differential generating member, the start of actual transfer of fluid from the reservoir (2) to the tank,

"the filling pipe comprises, in series, from upstream to downstream, the pressure differential generating member, a second pressure sensor, the regulating member that regulates the flow of liquid in the filling pipe, and the first pressure sensor,

"the filling pipe further comprises a fluid flow rate measuring member situated between the first and second pressure sensors,

"the duration of the timing step is between five and one hundred and forty-five seconds and preferably between ten and one hundred and twenty seconds and more preferably still, between thirty and ninety seconds,

"the switching on of the pressure differential generating member comprises a check of the flow rate of liquid delivered by the pressure differential generating member in order to keep the instantaneous liquid flow rate in the filling pipe downstream of the pressure differential generating member above a determined minimum flow rate,

"at least during filling, the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) in the filling pipe is kept above a determined minimum pressure threshold (PT3min),

"the method comprises, during or before the step of starting filling, a step of determining the pressure (PT4) in the tank by measuring the first pressure (PT3=PT4) at the filling pipe and a step of regulating the pressure in the filling pipe downstream of the pressure differential generating member to a determined value of between one times and four times, and preferably between one and a half times and three times the determined value for the pressure (PT4) in the tank,

"the method comprises, at the start of the filling, a step of comparing a mean of the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) in the filling pipe with the determined high threshold (Pmax) and, when the mean first instantaneous pressure (PT3) exceeds the high threshold, a step of automatically interrupting the filling, the mean of the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) being the mean of several values of the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) measured successively during a time interval of between 0.1 and 10 seconds and preferably between 0.25 seconds and 1 second,

"the method comprises, at the end of the timing step (A), a step of comparing a mean of the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) in the filling pipe against determined high threshold (Pmax) and, when the mean of the first instantaneous pressure (mPT3) exceeds the high threshold, a step of automatically interrupting the filling, the mean of the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) being the mean of several first instantaneous pressures (PT3) measured in succession over a time interval of between 0.1 and 10 seconds and preferably between 0.25 seconds and 1 second,

"the step of determining the reference instantaneous pressure (PT3ref) in the filling pipe comprises at least one measurement of the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) in the pipe in a time interval of between zero and ten seconds around the switching on of the pressure differential generating member or around the end of the timing step (A), the reference instantaneous pressure (PT3ref) in the filling pipe being the value measured during the at least one pressure measurement or a mean of this at least one pressure measurement,

"the value of the pressure jump is an adjustable or non-adjustable set value comprised between 0.1 bar and 2 bar and preferably between 0.3 and 1 bar and more preferably still between 0.4 and 0.6 bar,

"the step of measuring the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) in the filling pipe downstream of the pressure differential generating member is performed continuously or periodically,

"the value of the pressure jump is a function of the value of the first reference instantaneous pressure (PT3ref),

"when the first reference instantaneous pressure (PT3ref) is less than or equal to a value of between 6 to 9 bar, the pressure jump is between 0.1 and 0.9 bar and preferably between 0.3 and 0.7 bar,

"when the first reference instantaneous pressure (PT3ref) is higher than a determined value of between 6 and 9 bar and lower than a determined value of between 15 and 25 bar and preferably between 18 and 22 bar, the pressure jump is between 0.8 and 1.4 bar and preferably between 0.9 and 1.2 bar,

"when the first reference instantaneous pressure (PT3ref) is higher than a determined value of between 15 and 25 bar and preferably between 18 and 22 bar, the pressure jump is between 1.2 and 2 bar and preferably between 1.2 and 1.7 bar,

"the switching off of the pump is performed by switching the pump into a passive mode notably by switching off its drive motor and/or by closing at least one controlled valve,

"during the timing step, any potential variations in the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) which are measured in the filling pipe or the variations of the mean of these measured first instantaneous pressures (PT3) which are above the high threshold (Pmax) do not trigger the stopping of the filling,

"the pressure in the reservoir is kept above a determined value by drawing liquid from the reservoir, vaporizing this drawn-off liquid and reinjecting the vaporized liquid into the reservoir,

"during filling, the fluid pressure downstream of the pressure differential generating member is kept above the value of the pressure (PT4) in the tank,

"the fluid pressure in the filling pipe downstream of the pressure differential generating member is kept above the tank pressure value (PT4) by reducing/interrupting the direct return of fluid from the pressure differential generating member to the reservoir,

"the filling pipe comprises an upstream portion secured to the reservoir and a downstream portion, the downstream portion is preferably flexible and comprises a first end coupled in a disconnectable manner to the upstream portion and a downstream second end coupled in a disconnectable manner to a filling inlet of the tank,

"the flow regulating member comprises or consists of a valve with variable opening,

"the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) in the filling pipe downstream of the pressure differential generating member is measured via at least a first pressure sensor,

"the method is implemented by an installation comprising electronic logic receiving the measurements of the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) in the filling pipe, the electronic logic controlling the operation of the pressure differential generating member,

"the filling pipe is equipped with a variable-opening valve positioned downstream of the pressure differential generating member so as to regulate the flow rate of liquid delivered to the tank, said variable-opening valve preferably being of the one-way type, namely of the type that prevents reflux of fluid upstream toward the pressure differential generating member,

"during the timing step, the flow rate of fluid transferred to the tank is regulated via said variable-opening valve positioned downstream of the pressure differential generating member,

"after the step of interrupting the filling, the pressure differential generating member cannot be restarted until a determined waiting time preferably of between one second and fifteen minutes has elapsed,

"the pressure differential generating member is prevented from starting when the measurement of the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) in the filling pipe downstream of the pump is unavailable,

"at least one of the following steps is performed automatically or manually: the step of measuring the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) in the filling pipe downstream of the pressure differential generating member, the timing step (A), the step of comparing the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) in the filling pipe against a determined high pressure threshold (Pmax), the step of interrupting the filling, the check on the stability of the first pressure,

"the selective purging of at least part of the filling pipe to a discharge region distinct from the tank uses a discharge pipe comprising an end open to the atmosphere, said discharge pipe being fitted with a valve, said selective purging being performed for a determined purge duration of between two and sixty seconds and preferably of between five and thirty seconds,

"the bypass that selectively returns liquid leaving the pump to the reservoir comprises a pipe (8) fitted with at least one bypass valve,

"the step of interrupting the filling by activating the bypass returning liquid downstream of the pump to the reservoir comprises an opening of the at least one bypass valve for a determined duration preferably of between two and sixty seconds,

"the switching on of the pressure differential generating member can be performed only after a first positive check has been made on the stability of the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) in the filling pipe, the first check on the stability of the pressure being positive if the first pressure (PT3) is above atmospheric pressure and if at least one of the following conditions is satisfied: (i) the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) in the pipe (3) is above a determined pressure of, for example, between 15 and 25 bar, (ii) the variation in the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) during at least a determined interval of time is below a determined level of variation corresponding for example to a variation of between 0.005 and 0.020 bar per second,

"at the time or after the switching on of the pressure differential generating member, the method comprises a step of determining the pressure (PT4) in the tank only by measuring the first pressure (PT3=PT4) at the filling pipe, the method comprising, after determining the pressure (PT4) in the tank, a step of limiting the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) to below a maximum pressure threshold (PT3sup), the maximum pressure threshold being defined as a function of the determined value of the pressure (PT4) in the tank (1) and exceeding the determined value of the pressure (PT4) in the tank by 2 to 20 bar and preferably by 2 to 9 bar,

"the pressure (PT4) in the tank is determined and the step of limiting the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) to below a maximum pressure threshold (PT3sup) is achieved while the flow regulating member (12) is in the flow position,

"when the determined value for the pressure (PT4) in the tank is less than or equal to a first determined level of between three and five bar, the maximum pressure threshold is a predetermined set pressure value of between 5 and 9 bar and preferably equal comprised between 5.2 and 7 bar,

"the step of limiting the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) to below a maximum pressure threshold (PT3sup) comprises at least one of the following: manual or automatic regulation of the flow rate of transferred fluid using the flow regulating member, manual or automatic regulation of the pressure differential generated by the pressure differential generating member,

"the step of limiting the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) to below the maximum pressure threshold (PT3sup) is performed during a finite determined limiting duration and in that, when the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) remains higher than the maximum pressure threshold (PT3sup) at the end of the determined limiting duration, filling is automatically interrupted (AR),

"the determined limiting duration is between fifteen and two hundred seconds and preferably between thirty and one hundred and eighty seconds and, for example, between fifteen and sixty seconds or for example equal to ninety seconds,

"during the step of limiting the first instantaneous pressure (PT3), the method comprises a measurement of the quantity (Q) of fluid transferred from the reservoir (2) to the tank (1) and in that, when this transferred quantity of fluid (Q) exceeds a threshold quantity (Qs) before the end of the determined limiting duration, said limiting duration initially set is reduced.

"The invention also relates to a device for filling a liquefied gas tank, comprising a cryogenic liquid reservoir, the reservoir being selectively fluidically connected to the tank via a filling pipe having an upstream first end connected to the reservoir and a downstream second end that can be selectively coupled to a tank, the device comprising a pressure differential generating member for transferring liquid from the reservoir to the tank via a filling pipe, a regulating member regulating the flow of liquid in the filling pipe, the flow regulating member being movable between a no-flow position in which the flow of liquid is interrupted and at least one flow position in which the flow of liquid is transferred to the tank at a determined respective flow rate, the device further comprising a first pressure sensor positioned on the filling pipe downstream of the flow regulating member, and electronic logic connected to the pressure differential generating member, to the first pressure sensor and to at least one member for selectively limiting or interrupting the filling, the electronic logic being configured in order to make, during the filling, after a determined time following the start of transfer of a flow of liquid to the tank, a comparison between the first instantaneous pressure or a mean of this first instantaneous pressure (PT3) and a determined high threshold (Pmax) and, when the first instantaneous pressure (PT3) or, as the case may be, the mean of the first instantaneous pressures (PT3) in the filling pipe exceeds the high threshold (Pmax), to interrupt (AR) the filling via the at least one limiting or interrupting member.

"According to other possible specifics:

"the at least one limiting or interrupting member comprises at least one of the following:

"a switch or actuator commanding the switching off of the pressure differential generating member,

"a purge pipe provided with a valve that is controlled and connected to the electronic logic, the purge pipe comprising a first end coupled to the filling pipe and a second end opening into a discharge zone distinct from the tank,

"a bypass pipe provided with a valve that is controlled and connected to the electronic logic, the bypass pipe comprising a first end coupled to the filling pipe and a second end opening into the reservoir,

"a controlled isolation valve connected to the electronic logic.

"The invention may also relate to any alternative device or method comprising any combination of the features above or below."

For additional information on this patent, see: Beuneken, Olivier; Ammouri, Fouad; Colom, Sitra; Delclaud, Marie; Thomas, Arthur; Wojdas, Olga. Method and Device for Filling a Tank with Liquefied Gas. U.S. Patent Number 9765931, filed October 10, 2013, and published online on September 19, 2017. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=9765931.PN.&OS=PN/9765931RS=PN/9765931

Keywords for this news article include: L'Air Liquide Societe Anonyme pour l'Etude et l'Exploitation des Procedes Georges Claude.

Our reports deliver fact-based news of research and discoveries from around the world. Copyright 2017, NewsRx LLC

(c) 2017 NewsRx LLC, source Science Newsletters

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