“E&I understood what we wanted for thesystem architecture and how quickly weneeded it,” Fleisher says. “They alsounderstood that we wanted to offer theBPU400 globally and that we had to makeit affordable to accommodate reducedcapital expenditure budgets.”Following the initial meetings withOrbitek, Michael Sanchez, E&I Salestechnical director and Control SolutionsBusiness Unit Manager, recommended anintegrated automation and controls vendorwith products and services availablearound the world – Siemens. The companywas soon selected to provide the controlsand automation system for the unit, aswell as specialized input for instrumentapplications and software enhancements.“We believe in Siemens because it isaccepted worldwide,” Sanchez says. “Fromthe sensors to the PLC, it offers a seamlesssystem that gives the customer a highlevel of confidence.”One supplier, Integrated AutomationAt the heart of the system is a SIMATIC® S7315 controller mounted inside a panel onthe BPU400. The controller is networkedby PROFIBUS to nine Micromaster 420variable speed drives, as well as SITRANSLC300 level capacitance sensors, threeSITRANS F mass flowmeters and SITRANS PDSIII pressure transmitters. The controlsystem also includes Sirius combinationgroup-mounted motor starters for nonspeedcontrolled pumps, relays, VL circuitbreakers, SITOP power supplies, and ET200M remote I/O (32 discrete, 40 analogin, 4 analog out, and 6 relay out points).A SIMATIC MP 370B touch screen (size)display, mounted on the unit,communicates with the controller viaPROFINET and provides a graphicalinterface enabling the operator tomanipulate or change process parameters.The primary screen presents arepresentation of the plant whereoperators can enlarge any portion of theprocess to view the status of the pumps,drives, and other devices.“The ability to touch the screen andactivate the system production sequencedoesn’t diminish the need for operatortraining,” Fleisher says. “But it does lessenthe importance of the operator knowingeach step of the sequence, which reduceserrors and makes his job one of support.”Several layers of security provide forcontrolled changes, such as automaticshut-off and notification. Various alarmand maintenance screens are passwordprotected.Remote monitoring is real-time, as isremote access for softwaretroubleshooting, or software downloads.“The fact that you can go online andtroubleshoot the BPU400 is a big sellingpoint,” Sanchez says. “That gives us,Orbitek, and Siemens the ability toexamine historical data, pinpoint the issue,and fix it anytime, anywhere in the world.”
The system controls all of the key processvariables, including pressure, temperature,and flow. If any of those functions gooutside of the basic operating parameters,the logic decides whether or not to shutthe system down.Unmatched performanceThe BPU400 operates on a closed-loop,continuous-flow process and is capable ofa 99.8% conversion reaction in less thanone minute. Fleisher says that is thefastest in the industry, and the safest – theexplosion-proof unit circulates only sevengallons of methanol at any time, comparedto similar batch processes that require1,100 gallons.Capable of producing nine million gallonsannually, the proprietary BPU400 processcreates biodiesel by reacting methanol andsodium methylate with a variety offeedstocks. The mixture is cycled throughone of two patented, plug-flow reactors.After conversion, the biodiesel is routedthrough a waterless polishing system toensure purity. The crude glycerinbyproduct is sent to storage, and therecovered methanol is recycled.“We have the same efficiencies of verylarge systems, but with a small, modularsystem in a plug-and-play format,” saysFleisher. “As long as we can get goodfeedstock, chemicals, and utilities to drivethe pumps and power the valves, we canbe up and operating in very little time, nomatter the location.”The unit can be operated alone or inparallel with other units. Customers canstart production with one unit to lowerentry costs, and then expand as needed byadding more of the 8’ x 8’ x 20’ units.Using multiple units for larger outputs alsooffers operating economies duringmaintenance and servicing. Units can beserviced one at a time, reducingproduction losses, as compared to shuttingdown the entire system.“The entire unit is configured and ready togo when it leaves our facility,” Fleishersays. “Also, the integrated control systemand plug-and-play design of the unit hasreduced commissioning time to a matterof days. That pays off in consistency andreduced labor costs.”Environmentally friendly and energyefficient, the closed-loop operationeliminates all emissions. Wastewatersteam is also eliminated with waterlesspolishing technology that removes anytrace of production residues.Technology for the futureIn the near future, Fleisher expects tointegrate the functions of the BPU400 withSiemens SIMATIC PCS 7 distributed controlsystem (DCS). The conversion will retainthe programming, HMI, control processor,and other control components of theexisting system. The PCS 7 DCS willintegrate the BPU400 automation systemand devices within a single platform.Orbitek will also have access to commontools for engineering, visualization, andplantwide asset and maintenancemanagement.“The original idea was to design thecontrol system so we could eventuallystack the units by the hundreds andcommunicate back to the DCS,” Sanchezsays. “The skids would be nodes of a largerplant and operate independently while thePCS 7 DCS would have hierarchal controlover the complete system. There will bemore I/O functions. We will also be able tocontrol the tank farm and pre- and postprocessesfrom a central control room.”
Both Fleisher and Sanchez sum up thesuccess of the BPU400, as well as theoptimistic outlook for Orbitek, on apartnership that started in Tulsa and nowreaches every corner of the globe.“As we went through the process ofcommercializing the unit, we found peopleand companies that have become verymuch like partners,” Fleisher says. “Whenwe built the skid, Siemens and E&I Saleswere there every step of the way, even onthe weekends.“These relationships have helped usidentify a new market niche,” Fleishercontinues. “It may be a large company, butSiemens focuses on the basics. Theyservice small companies the same as largeones. It has really helped to have Siemensstanding with us as we keep our operatorsprofitable and their equipment running.”For more information about Orbitek, visitwww.orbitekinc.com.Siemens Industry, Inc.3333 Old Milton ParkwayAlpharetta, GA firstname.lastname@example.org/processSubject to change without notice.Order No.: PAFL-00126-1009All rights reservedPrinted in USA©2009 Siemens Industry, Inc.The information provided in this brochure contains merelygeneral descriptions or characteristics of performancewhich in case of actual use do not always apply as describedor which may change as a result of further developmentof the products. An obligation to provide the respectivecharacteristics shall only exist if expressly agreed in theterms of contract.All product designations may be trademarks or productnames of Siemens AG or supplier companies whose use bythird parties for their own purposes could violate the rightsof the owners.