2018 has seen progress in a wide range of areas, including research, industry collaboration, standards development, knowledge transfer and thought leadership. One key highlight has been the significant improvements that have been made to NEL’s test and research facilities - this work includes the on-going construction of the new Advanced Multiphase Facility (AMF), which will revolutionise the test capabilities that NEL can offer, when it is completed in 2019.
Over the year, the number and diversity of commercial work projects have remained strong. In addition, interest has grown in many of the newer services that the lab offers to industry. For example, an increasing number of manufacturing companies have been taking advantage of NEL’s expertise, with many coming to East Kilbride for the necessary testing and consultancy services to help achieve international certification for their products.
A major focus for 2018 has been the importance of testing meters at field conditions. For example, research, testing and knowledge transfer work have both focused on the impact of pressure effects on Coriolis meters and the importance of taking these effects into account during testing and calibration.
Recently introduced technology will help provide this kind of testing. For example, a substantial investment has also been made in a unique piece of 2D flow visualisation technology that uses X-Ray tomography to look in unprecedented detail at flow regimes. It will be used to image multiphase flows under realistic field conditions.
The lab’s new Advanced Multiphase Facility will offer even more impressive test capabilities. When completed, it will have a test range beyond anything currently available anywhere in the world. Work on this facility continued throughout the year. Key milestones included the completion of the main physical structure and the installation and test of the main gravity separator unit.
Another major focus for collaboration and research in 2018, has been the UK’s emerging clean fuel sector. This has involved significant collaboration with industry and has included projects that will improve the metrology of clean fuels such as hydrogen and liquified natural gas (LNG).
Throughout 2018, a wide range of improvements have been made to the National Standards facilities, which have resulted in improved operational efficiency and increased productivity. A number of important enhancements have also been made to the services on offer. For example, an improved erosion modelling technique was introduced that provides a better picture of the interaction between erosion and flow over time. It offers meter, pipe and valve manufacturers improved accuracy for product performance tests.
Standards work has progressed strongly. For example, the use of orifice plates with drain holes has been published in a technical report additional to ISO 5167. The new ISO multiphase standard has been completed and is ready for the final ballot, after which it will be published. Meanwhile, several new standards activities began concerning sub-sonic nozzles and ultrasonic clamp-on meters.
Knowledge transfer (KT) activities in 2018 took staff all around the world – from South East Asia to South America. Much of this work has involved participation in high-level international workshops, conferences or training events, many of which have been developed in collaboration with national industry associations or other agencies. In the UK, NEL organised many KT events, including the country’s premier flow measurement conference, the North Sea Flow Measurement Workshop, which was held in Aberdeen for the first time ever.
The Lunch and Learn and webinar programmes have also been successful. For example, during the year, over 1,000 participants, drawn from over 50 countries, have taken part in webinar training events.
In-house training and professional development has also moved forward strongly. The Summer intern programme was a great success, with students from Strathclyde and Glasgow Universities taking part. The EngD programme (which is run with Coventry University) progressed well, with several of the students finishing the experimental phase of their studies. This had led to a number of entirely new discoveries for which commercialisation opportunities are being explored.
Looking ahead, NEL will continue to develop all aspects of its work in 2019, with particular emphasis on collaborative projects with industry and academia. For example, two new Joint Industry Project (JIPs) have already been launched to establish the true performance of multiphase, wet gas and water cut flow meters. In addition, a new Joint Research Project (JRP) with international universities is set to significantly improve the way in which the performance of flow meters is modelled.