The production of a new, sophisticated transducer cabinet to upgrade and replace an existing test rig, able to handle argon and nitrogen gas within a safe, high purity and efficient manner.

The Challenge

Orbital Fabrications Ltd was approached by a customer, who was developing fuel cells as an alternative energy source, to see whether it would be possible to develop a new pressure transducer cabinet so that it could upgrade and replace an existing test rig. To this end, the customer needed a new and more sophisticated pressure transducer cabinet that was capable of operating at a working pressure of  5 Bar and handling argon and nitrogen gas to a throughput of 0.3m3/hour in a safe, high purity efficient manner. In addition to the cabinet, the customer also required all of the internal pipework circuitry to be 1/8 of an inch (outside diameter) using 316L grade stainless steel. The customer also required the new pressure transducer cabinet to be compatible with existing upstream and downstream processes/equipment without adversely affecting performance targets.

Scientific and technological advance

Orbital Fabrications Ltd sought to extend the overall knowledge and capability in the field of mechanical engineering as applied to the development and realisation of a pressure transducer cabinet through the adaptation of technology into a new application where this adaptation was not readily deducible (BIS guidelines paragraphs 6 and 7). They specifically sought to gain the requisite:

  • knowledge and technological capability to develop and realise a robust pressure transducer cabinet and internal pipework circuitry with 1/8 inch tube (OD), capable of handling and delivering high purity gases (Argon & Nitrogen) to deliver at pressures of 5 bar and flow rates of up to 0.3 cubic meters per hour to replace an existing and less sophisticated system for use in an alternative fuel cell application;
  • knowledge and understanding necessary to develop the appropriate manufacturing processes and welding technologies capable of handling pressures of 5 bar and meeting the system requirements; and
  • capability to develop a solution that could be fully compatible with existing infrastructure and upstream/downstream processes without adversely affecting performance or effectiveness. 

The Solution

Using its skill and expertise, Orbital Fabrications Ltd undertook a major design and development programme to ensure they could develop and realise a functional pressure transducer cabinet. The team conducted a detailed appraisal of the supplied P&ID document from the customer to translate the design intent into manufacturing drawings and a product requirement specification. This exercise was carried out in conjunction with the customer and the engineering team.

Orbital Fabrications Ltd then embarked on an iterative design process which involved the use of 2D and 3D CAD software tools (Solidworks). Alternative design concepts of the pressure transducer cabinet and layouts of the pipework were systematically produced and reviewed with the customer. Orbital Fabrications Ltd used engineering calculations and volumetric modelling using numerical methods to finalise the design as well as assists in the component selection process.

Welding trials were conducted by Orbital Fabrications Ltd as part of the process development exercise to ensure that the system was capable of handling high purity gas pressures and that the welding would meet the integrity levels required to satisfy the requirements of the system.

Pressure Transducer Cabinet with Internal Pipework Circuitry Design

The Result

Orbital Fabrications Ltd designed a full pressure transducer cabinet to meet the client’s needs with full internal pipework suitable for the intended gas transport. The transducer cabinet met the required pressure values and was completed in accordance with industry compliance and safety requirements.

A  full functional and leak tests were carried out at Orbital Fabrication Ltd’s facilities in St. Ives. All technical challenges were resolved and the new pressure transducer cabinet was delivered an installed into the new test rig.