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Distillation Column Installation: A Challenge

PROBLEM: How do you install a distillation column in the middle of manufacturing plant without interrupting operations? Alternately, how do you fabricate a process system in an environment with heavy restrictions on welding, metal shearing, or any other activity that could potentially cause a spark?

SOLUTION: You don’t. You build your distillation column off-site, in a controlled, production style environment. Recently, EPIC has built several distillation systems that saw major advantages from modular off-site construction. Below is one recent example, and some of the major ways off-site modular construction benefited the client.

A 40+ foot distillation column for a power plant

A distillation system designed to remove C02 from flue gas was built at EPIC’s facility and installed, fully tested, at the power plant. The system consisted of a forty-foot distillation column in a fifty-one foot tall skid, all of which was installed in a matter of days at the power-plant. The major advantages to off-site modular design for this project included:

  1. Safety/risk reduced – by constructing the system off-site, fabrication in a hazardous area was never a concern. In addition, welders, pipe fitters and other fabrication personnel were able to work under controlled, accessibly conditions. This increased both the personal safety of the fabrication crew, and the quality of the work.
  2. Minimal operational interruptions – shutting down the power plant in order to install the new system was not exactly a plausible plan. Traditional construction methods could have meant weeks of operational interruptions as new equipment arrived, new sections were welded, etc. By installing the skid all at once, normal operations were interrupted as little as possible.
  3. Schedule compression – modular skid construction is not affected by weather or civil site upgrades. Construction of the module begins as soon as design is complete, regardless of whether civil upgrades are complete. Additionally, start-up time is minimized and system testing does not interrupt current operations.
  4. Full testing complete before delivery – the complete system arrived in one unit, fully tested and ready to go. Process hook-ups simply had to be connected to plant utilities. The punch-list was completed and maintenance personnel trained in just a few days.


Read the full case study
for this job or visit our “Advantages to Modular” page to learn more about the benefits of off-site fabrication for distillation columns.

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EPIC Modular Process Systems
4134 Meramec Bottom Rd
St. Louis, MO 63129, US
(314) 845-0077

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