Corac commissions advanced test facility at CET’s Slough Technology Centre

by: Phil Curtis 28/05/2014

Corac Group, the gas, air and energy technologies business has extended its market leading test facility at its Technology Centre in Slough, operated by its subsidiary Corac Energy Technologies (CET), with the commissioning of an innovative “dirty gas” flowloop.

CET develops advanced compact compressors and renewable energy generators. Advanced testing allows them to simulate live gas well conditions for performance and reliability before shipping to the field. This is a significant advance on previous testing that was done with computer simulations using partner supplied data from the live well, physical testing in air at the Slough facility and in clean methane at the CET test site in Cumbria.

Downhole field testing with partners in their well in the United States exposed the true nature of the gas stream in that location. It carried more solids and fluids than were expected or designed for, and led to engineering changes to the compressors to cope with these conditions.

Field deployment is an expensive activity, both for CET and for the well operator. A producing gas well must be interrupted and a large team of engineers and technicians mobilised to install the device safely and efficiently. The more testing and assurance that can be done above the surface, particularly in representative “dirty” conditions, the greater the confidence of all concerned that the time and expense of deploying in the live well is justified.

A flowloop is a closed system where gas at a controlled temperature, pressure and flow rate enters a compressor to emerge at higher temperature and pressure. These and other parameters are measured so that compressor performance under a range of conditions can be mapped. The closed cycle then reduces the pressure and temperature to return the gas to the compressor inlet and the process continues.

This is one of very few multi-phase flowloops where sand and other solids can also be introduced to extend the range of conditions the compressor is subjected to. It provides CET with independent data to prove their technologies and demonstrate the capability of compressor systems.

The facility will be used to support CET’s oil and gas developments across a wide range of locations and conditions, and provides the company with a competitive advantage in this area.

Last week, CET engineers completed a six month project to commission this facility with the first operation of a compact compressor in the flowloop. The project was made possible by a fundraising conducted by Corac Group in December 2013 to support technology development projects in CET and the other Group companies.

This milestone provides CET with a rare capability that allows it to adopt a more complete testing strategy, working closely with partners they can jointly manage the risks of live deployment from a more informed position than was previously possible.

Phil Cartmell, Corac Group Chief Executive commented:

“We have learned a lot from testing compressors extensively in the UK and overseas with our industry partners, including down a live well. This facility gives us much more knowledge of the performance of the machine in a range of conditions.

“We continue to work with partners on the lessons learned from testing and will agree the next steps for deployment when they are confident that the systems can work effectively and safely before committing them to a productive gas stream.”

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