Emerson automates separations research facility

Process automation technology enables Separations Research Program to increase the efficiency and flexibility of its state-of-the-art pilot plant 


AUSTIN, TEXAS (September 10, 2010) – The Separations Research Program (SRP) pilot plant in Austin, Texas, has been completely upgraded using the latest digital automation technology from Emerson Process Management.  The plant, operated by The University of Texas at Austin and funded by companies in chemical, refining, and other industries, is one of the first commercial installations of Emerson’s DeltaV digital automation system v11 release.

This collaboration between a renowned public university and the world’s leading process automation supplier will enable the SRP pilot plant to improve its operations through more reliable control, more accurate measurement, and a better understanding of process and equipment data.

The pilot plant, which consists of multifunctional mass transfer devices, is used to evaluate new separation techniques that can then be directly scaled up for commercial production. This unique facility is known worldwide for providing in-depth analysis of separation techniques and for the knowledge of the experts who run the plant.

The plant operates approximately 200 days per year, conducting studies that typically last one to three months. For each study, the facility is modified to meet a commercial customer’s unique needs. Major oil, chemical and food companies have used such studies to improve operations in their production facilities and to prove expected ROIs before scaling up to production.

In addition, the SRP has developed an innovative CO2 separation process that reduces CO2 emissions for coal-fired operations and reduces the typical process-equipment footprint by two-thirds. This process, which will undergo field trials later this year, consists of a fully automated turn-key skid utilizing the latest capabilities of Emerson’s PlantWeb™ digital automation architecture. In 2011, the facility plans to double the scale of this technology for another commercial installation.

The pilot plant provides a showcase for Emerson's automation technologies, including DeltaV S-series controllers with Electronic Marshalling, HART I/O, Smart Wireless communications, Rosemount® and Rosemount Analytical sensors and transmitters, Fisher® digital control valves, and Micro Motion® Coriolis meters. These technologies increase the pilot plant’s efficiency by enabling optimized decisions using real-time process information.  Additionally, the Electronic Marshalling capability allows the plant to easily implement the required process modifications between each study.

“By upgrading our pilot plant using the latest Emerson automation technologies, we are able to build on our reputation and deliver solid research results to our customers,” said Frank Seibert, operations manager for the Separations Research Program.

“Emerson and the Separations Research Program are both known for developing innovations that deliver better process and business results,” added Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management. “We welcome this opportunity to collaborate with the SRP by providing the automation technology to help increase process efficiency and achieve business goals."

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About Emerson
Emerson (NYSE: EMR), headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), is a global technology and engineering company providing innovative solutions for customers in industrial, commercial, and residential markets. Our Emerson Automation Solutions business helps process, hybrid, and discrete manufacturers maximize production, protect personnel and the environment while optimizing their energy and operating costs. Our Emerson Commercial and Residential Solutions business helps ensure human comfort and health, protect food quality and safety, advance energy efficiency, and create sustainable infrastructure. For more information visit Emerson.com.

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