A major gas and equipment distributor, S.J. Smith located in Davenport, Iowa fills high pressure and liquid cylinders for the industrial gas market. At one of their main fill plants located at 3707 West River Drive, S.J. Smith has upgraded their bulk storage for atmospheric gases (LIN, LOX & LAR) to the Siphon 100™ bulk tanks. In addition, S.J. Smith has added their own Lo-Loss liquid cylinder filling systems to all three of these gases to upgrade their filling efficiency to today’s standards.
To add the new Argon Maximizer™ Liquid Cylinder Filling System to their existing argon filling station and test it to determine its cost-benefit value. With the high cost of argon and the potential for future shortages, conserving argon molecules has become a major cost reduction program for S.J. Smith. The Argon Maximizer system from Chart is designed to further enhance product savings beyond the Lo-Loss™ Liquid Cylinder Filling System. This is achieved by reducing argon losses during the liquid cylinder filling process before the liquid passes through the Lo-Loss system. The Maximizer unit’s internal heat exchanger reduces the saturation pressure of the “hot” argon as it passes through a bath of liquid nitrogen. Hence, the lower-cost nitrogen is sacrificed to further reduce the argon liquid cylinder filling losses.
The Argon Maximizer system is installed between the argon bulk tank and the Lo-Loss system. Because the inner vessel of the Maximizer system stores the liquid nitrogen for cooling the argon, it must also be connected to the bulk nitrogen tank. To facilitate the data gathering, pressure, level and temperature sensors are installed in many strategic locations. Each sensor is then wired to a central data acquisition system for detailed information monitoring throughout the equipment testing process. To compare the two processes, liquid cylinders are filled with only the Lo-Loss system and with the Maximizer & Lo-Loss systems. A total of 197 liquid cylinders were evaluated over a three month period to gather significant data for comparison.
Among the many benefits S.J. Smith now enjoys with the Argon Maximizer system permanently installed, three stand out:
S.J. Smith did observe another key benefit of the Argon Maximizer: delivering a lower pressure liquid cylinder to their customer. It should be noted that the liquid cylinder average final pressure was 10 psig when the bulk tank averaged 52 psig. If only the Lo-Loss were used, this would have been 32 psig (20 psi differential). A minor improvement, but if the bulk tank was at a higher pressure, a “cold” liquid cylinder at 10 psig would still result. For further details on the Argon Maximizer performance, see product specification sheet, PN 14084621.
The data above reflects the before and after results S.J. Smith experienced from adding the Argon Maximizer system to their argon liquid cylinder filling station. In addition to the financial benefits the Chart Argon Maximizer system brings to S.J. Smith noted above, several other operational benefits also became apparent. By reducing their fill times, S.J. Smith can improve their throughput and reduce their overall labor at this station. With a significant reduction of argon saturation pressure in the liquid cylinder after the fill, S.J. Smith can now be confident of delivering “cold” liquid cylinders to their customers regardless of pressure fluctuations in their bulk tank. This will eliminate customer complaints from cylinders “popping off” early when stored for inventory at the customer site.
Eric Smith, Operations Manager, noted, “At first I was concerned about achieving a significant return on capital investment & training due to process changes when adding the Argon Maximizer. But after our experience, it is worth the investment and time to understand the value it can bring to our liquid cylinder filling process for argon liquid cylidners. The Maximizer works as advertised.”
S.J. Smith employees Eric Smith, Wayne Brimeyer, Darin Brinkman, Bill Krebs and Dave Dexter participated in this case study.