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Nitrogen manual release innovation developed for Marine ERC LNG Coupling

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LNG Industry,

Alpha Process Controls has developed a new manual actuation system for its Marine Emergency Release Collar (ERC) coupling technology.

Powered by a readily-available nitrogen bottle, the system enables operators to activate the closure and separation of Alpha’s low pressure drop coupling if any transfer issues are identified before an emergency actuation takes place.

By utilising a gas powered operation, the new innovation prevents the need for electrical or hydraulic systems and can be used in a number of transfer applications including FRSUs and emergency salvage applications, where access to external power sources may be limited. This is supported by the mobility of the control panel and connected nitrogen canister.

Alpha’s Marine ERC Coupling is available in sizes ranging from four-inch to the most recent addition, a 10-inch coupling designed to support LNG transfers from FRSU vessels.

The couplings feature a two-stage operation that enables the controlled shutdown of internal valves (ESD1) and the coupling separation (ESD2) and can be operated mechanically or through an operator controlled separation.

The ERC can also be specified with a pre-ESD1 alarm, which detects ship separation, and is linked to the ESD1 system to shut down flow lines.

This safety feature complements the ERC’s innovative, inbuilt damping system to reduce the effects of pressure spikes should the coupling be called upon to separate during full flow transfer in the case of a separation event, such as a vessel drift-away.

UK-based Alpha Process Controls has also introduced a further safety innovation to support the requirement for pre-installation checks of the Marine ERC.

A specially-developed Collar Release Test system and a Valve Head Closure unit offers technicians peace of mind ensuring the ERC is transfer-ready prior to installation.

Ben Richardson, Design Manager, Alpha Process Controls, said: “Through continual research and development and our close relationships with key LNG companies, we are consistently developing new innovative features and add-ons for our couplings to meet industry requirements.

“The manual release system enables companies to install a more comprehensive collection of coupling separation options that maintain our high standards of safety.

“Additionally, through the use of nitrogen we are continuing to not feature electrical or hydraulic systems within our couplings, which is not only a cost benefit, but importantly increases flexibility and the range of locations in which the technology can be applied.”

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