Electrical Power Through Pipelines

Introduction

At any given moment, millions of gallons of crude oil and natural gas liquids are traveling through the world’s pipelines. These pipelines cross rivers and traverse mountain ranges. By tapping into the high-pressure fluid flows within pipelines, the IsoGen® system from Energy Recovery generates electricity that can be stored locally or returned to the utility grid.

  • Generates reliable onsite power
  • Operates at 85 percent efficiency
  • Withstands harsh environments
  • Requires minimal changes to existing operations
  • Offers quick payback, typically fewer than three years

 

Untapped Potential

Pipelines remain the most efficient way to transport crude oil and natural gas liquids. Even so, inefficiencies abound. One of the most striking examples occurs when the fluid in a pipeline reaches its final destination. The pressure necessary to keep the fluid flowing through the pipeline is often too great for the intake process and must be reduced. This pressure drop represents a wasted opportunity to put the released energy to use.

Another example of inefficiency occurs when a pipeline crosses mountainous terrain. Booster pumps create the pressure necessary to push the fluid uphill, but on downhill runs there’s often pressure buildup, and the system must release excess pressure through letdown valves.

But what if the energy lost when unwanted fluid pressure is released could be used instead to generate the electricity needed to operate the pumps elsewhere on the pipeline, or even be sold to the local utility? That’s the promise of the Energy Recovery IsoGen System.

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Transmission pipeline with IsoGen replacing choke valves

A Better Way

The most compact turbogenerator on the market today, the IsoGen System is a high efficiency turbine coupled with an electric generator. In pipelines carrying crude oil and natural gas liquids, IsoGen can be used to recover energy from pressure letdowns after vertical drops. It’s also effective recovering energy from other fluid flows that require pressure release, such as ammonia production.

Rather than paying for distribution, transmission, and power costs from a utility, pipeline operators can now use the IsoGen system to generate reliable on-site power they can put to use themselves or return to the utility grid. Another benefit is that IsoGen reduces or even eliminates the need to burn fuel in costly and environmentally damaging generators.

Pressure into Profits

IsoGen represents a unique approach to renewable energy, and a rare opportunity for pipelines operators to enjoy cost savings without major disruptions to their business. More reliable than wind or solar because pipelines never stop running, IsoGen typically pays for itself within three years—meaning that any savings beyond that point only contribute to the bottom line.

A complete plug-and-play solution, the IsoGen system offers pipeline operators a simple, effective way to maximize profits and minimize the environmental impact of their facilities.