Fireworks & Filtration. Happy 2016.


Solid-Liquid Filtration
New Year’s fireworks in Singapore, a place I enjoyed visiting this year for Gastech. Photo credit: williamcho / / CC BY-SA

With 2015 drawing to a close, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the year. The release of the first edition of my Solid-Liquid Filtration Practical Guide for Chemical Engineers prompted me to start this blog.

So far, it’s been great. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to expand on my belief that good solid-liquid filtration process engineers proceed with caution and test, test, test.

I’ve opined about the need for consistent filtration ratings, advised against being blinded by the appeal of an idea simply because it’s new, and discussed the need for solid thinking before scaling up.

At the same time, I’ve enjoyed sharing with you examples of the importance of creativity in our industry. I’ve also mentioned Sherlock Holmes’ methodologies once or twice (OK, maybe more than that) in examining choices in equipment selection and touting my own practical guide to Solid-Liquid Filtration.

Plus I’ve been able to write about some insights gathered from my trips around the country and internationally to learn and share research from my role as President and Managing Director of BHS-Sonthofen Inc., a subsidiary of BHS-Sonthofen GmbH.

In Bahrain I leaned about non-conventional approaches and the importance of looking behind the data. In Germany, I sampled the Weisswurst while exhibiting a new Rotary Pressure Filter design. While in Singapore I presented and gained greater understanding of the LNG market.

I also hope you’ve had some fun, as I have had, with posts about engineering pranks or soliciting your opinions for a “Rock Stars of Filtration” list.

I’ve already started thinking with excitement about 2016’s blog posts. Yet I invite you to make suggestions! In fact, I’d welcome guest blogger contributions. Please let me know what interests you. I’d be happy to discuss it further.

Travel, Present and Learn. Join me.

I was in Singapore in October for the Gastech Singapore 2015 for a very interesting week learning about many things, including LNG engineering.

Celebrating 50 years as an independent nation, Singapore has been ranked the number one country for “ease of doing business” for the past nine years by the World Bank. Singapore is very cosmopolitan; you can see different types of people living harmoniously and easily interacting with each other. My trip included some wonderful sights such as the “Gardens by the Bay” and the Arts & Science Museum’s “Welcoming Hand.” I appreciated these both as engineering marvels considering environmental / sustainable objectives. And, yes, I also appreciated the excellent food with a diversity of choices including Chinese, Indian, Malay, Indonesian, Italian, Peranakan, Spanish, French, Thai and, of course, the ever-present “fusion” which can mean whatever you like.

LNG engineering
The Garden at the Bay showcases energy efficient, sustainable building technologies .Photo credit: Craig Stanfill / / CC BY-SA

Gastech Conference Benefits

The cosmopolitan diversity of Singapore was also evident at the Gas-tech conference. There were exhibitors and attendees from around the world including the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Indonesia, Norway, and the US. In fact, the Black & Veatch booth was streaming live the World Series baseball match-up of the KC Royals and the NY Mets. Unfortunately, my beloved Mets did not win.

Technical conference sessions focused on gas processing, LNG engineering (as well as processing, floating, ships, facilities and infrastructure), natural gas vehicles, and offshore technologies. I learned LNG is about to enter a period of unprecedented growth with significant volumes of new supply about to enter the market. The estimated investment is over $2.5 trillion through 2025. Currently, there are over 400 LNG ships worldwide. The initial exports from the US should be in 2106 from the Sabine Pass facility in the Gulf Coast.

I presented in the Center of Technical Excellence (CoTES) a paper titled, Perlmutter Presentation at GasTech Singapore 2015 (pdf) The session was attended well, and I enjoyed fielding some interesting questions and comments. I was particularly proud to see this presentation was the only filtration one at Gastech — that’s a nice accomplishment for BHS.

LNG engineering
Singapore’s “Welcoming Hand” incorporates solar panels and recycles rainwater.
Photo credit: Leonid Yaitskiy / / CC BY-SA

Why International Conferences Matter

Did I have fun? Yes. Did I learn? Yes. Did I expand my professional network? Yes. I can only continue to encourage all of my clients, friends, and colleagues to travel to international conferences such as Gastech to experience both the cultural and technical benefits of joining the worldwide process engineer community.

If you are planning to travel or submit to conferences, let me know your how I can help! Perhaps we can meet up at an international destination to discuss our shared interests, this blog and more!

The Engineer in the Wild

Business Week recently featured an excellent feature detailing the tragedy of Kate Matrosova. But what does that have to do with filtration technology?

Well, let’s consider her story first. The 32-year-old trader with a love for adventure set out on an epic solo hike across New Hampshire’s mountains and encountered “the most hellish weather seen in many seasons.”

filtration technology
Photo credit: weesam2010 / Source / CC BY-NC-SA

Friends remember her as a brave woman with a power within her who, although equipped, was beaten by the elements. “It was a contest she could not win,” we’re told. It’s too bad. She sounded like a woman with a great deal of promise and a strong inner drive.

Yet, what does this sad end have to do with solid-liquid filtration. Treating her tragedy as a cautionary tale, the article put me in mind of certain advice in my book.

  • We can’t be so eager to accomplish something that we fail to follow proper procedures.
  • Don’t rely on experience and intuition alone.
  • Safety matters, so prepare for the unexpected.

As Sherlock Holmes himself might note, there’s no replacement for combining experience with careful planning. I put this view to work daily in filtration technology, but it’s widely applicable. Let me know what you think!