Improved Safety for U.S. Inland Barges
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Photo: Honeywell

Honeywell reported that operating companies of all sizes within the United States inland barge market are turning to Honeywell’s Tanksystem portable level gauging and sampling technology to optimize custody transfer measurements and improve safety and environmental protection on both newly built barges and retrofit vessels.

More than 4,000 tugboats and 27,000 barges move over 800 million tons of raw materials and finished goods each year along more than 25,000 miles of canals and rivers that comprise the United States inland waterway system. Inland marine barge traffic contributes more than $5 billion to the U.S. economy and transports 20% of America's coal – enough to produce 10% of all electricity used each year in the U.S.

To support the safety and environmental protection of the inland barge fleet, Honeywell supplied more than 1,200 vapor control valves for deck installation (each barge typically has three to six tanks) in the U.S. over the past year. This represents the majority of all new-build projects in the region. The use of a ball valve permits tank gauging and sampling under completely closed conditions, removing the previous open method that resulted in vapor escape, along with the possibility of vapor ignition. By adopting the new technology, barge owners improve operator safety, reliability and accuracy of measurement values.

According to Philippe Despagne, Marine general manager at Honeywell Process Solutions, barge owner/operators require environmentally friendly operation, which means eliminating toxic vapor escape during manual verification of tank contents. They are also seeking safer and more reliable operations and measurements due to health, safety and environment (HSE) concerns.

“Custody transfer measurement on barges is shifting from traditional methods under open conditions—allowing vapor to escape from tanks—to closed solutions, eliminating vapor release to the atmosphere during tank gauging,” said Despagne. “In addition, there is increasing demand in the barge industry to have a ball valve on each tank to enable connection of portable gauging and sampling equipment.”

Despagne added, “Utilizing a valve for connection of portable equipment to perform tank gauging and sampling allows for safer and more accurate measurements. Equipping tanks with valves also makes it possible to perform measurements under closed, gas-tight conditions. This type of operation not only increases accuracy, but also provides a huge improvement in terms of environmental protection, as the vapor release occurring during operation will be eliminated.”

HERMetic deck valves are heavy-duty, compact ball valves constructed from 316 stainless steel, and incorporating Teflon gaskets and a deck flange meeting the ANSI 150-pound standard. These multi-purpose valves provide the flexibility to gauge products from crude oil to chemicals, while allowing the use of sampling equipment capable of retrieving sample quantities from 0.33 to 1.8 liters in a single operation.

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