Written by Cohort 3 researcher Matt Hammond.

I recently attended a training course hosted by Swagelok Nederland and delivered by Phil Harris (Insight Analytical Solutions, Inc.) who has over 30 years’ experience in analytical instruments and systems. The training took place over 5 days at Swagelok Nederland’s offices in Waddinxveen, Netherlands. The technical course is aimed at process technicians and managers who regularly deal with analysers and sampling systems, such as in the oil and gas and chemical industries.

The course covered various components of sampling systems from obtaining a sample, transporting and treating the sample, and analysing the sample, and the design issues that can occur in each area. Three key criteria were emphasised throughout the course: compatibility, timely, and representative. Compatibility refers to the components and materials used and how they should be chosen based on the sample being collected and the state the sample is in. For example, certain filters may be needed to remove dirt and condensates from a natural gas process stream before it reaches the analyser. Time is also a key issue in sampling systems. If the analyser is used for process control, a fast response time is necessary to adjust process parameters in real time. When designing a sample system, it’s important to know where pressure drops occur, for example over valves and filters. Finally, obtaining a representative sample means obtaining a meaningful analytical result for its intended purpose. Loss of representation can occur due to chemical reactions within the sample, fractionation during phase changes, and contamination valve leaks and adsorption.

The course was very intense and covered concepts taken from chemistry, physics and engineering. Over the next few years, I hope to be able to apply the knowledge I gained from this course to my research into Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). A key issue in LNG composition measurement is the current need to vapourise the sample and measure the gas phase, however fractionation and sample enrichment are common problems, and sample system design is a hot topic.

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