Sunday, June 30, 2019

Oil & Gas and Power Grids Have New "Cause for Concern" from Hackers


A report released in June, from the security firm Dragos, describes a worrisome development by a hacker group named, “Xenotime” and at least two dangerous oil and gas intrusions and ongoing reconnaissance on United States power grids.

Multiple ICS (Industrial Control Sectors) sectors now face the XENOTIME threat; this means individual verticals – such as oil and gas, manufacturing, or electric – cannot ignore threats to other ICS entities because they are not specifically targeted.

The Dragos researchers have termed this threat proliferation as the world’s most dangerous cyberthreat since an event in 2017 where Xenotime had caused a serious operational outage at a crucial site in the Middle East. 

The fact that concerns cybersecurity experts the most is that this hacking attack was a malware that chose to target the facility safety processes (SIS – safety instrumentation system).

For example, when temperatures in a reactor increase to an unsafe level, an SIS will automatically start a cooling process or immediately close a valve to prevent a safety accident. The SIS safety stems are both hardware and software that combine to protect facilities from life threatening accidents.

At this point, no one is sure who is behind Xenotime. Russia has been connected to one of the critical infrastructure attacks in the Ukraine.  That attack was viewed to be the first hacker related power grid outage.

This is a “Cause for Concern” post that was published by Dragos on June 14, 2019

“While none of the electric utility targeting events has resulted in a known, successful intrusion into victim organizations to date, the persistent attempts, and expansion in scope is cause for definite concern. XENOTIME has successfully compromised several oil and gas environments which demonstrates its ability to do so in other verticals. Specifically, XENOTIME remains one of only four threats (along with ELECTRUM, Sandworm, and the entities responsible for Stuxnet) to execute a deliberate disruptive or destructive attack.

XENOTIME is the only known entity to specifically target safety instrumented systems (SIS) for disruptive or destructive purposes. Electric utility environments are significantly different from oil and gas operations in several aspects, but electric operations still have safety and protection equipment that could be targeted with similar tradecraft. XENOTIME expressing consistent, direct interest in electric utility operations is a cause for deep concern given this adversary’s willingness to compromise process safety – and thus integrity – to fulfill its mission.

XENOTIME’s expansion to another industry vertical is emblematic of an increasingly hostile industrial threat landscape. Most observed XENOTIME activity focuses on initial information gathering and access operations necessary for follow-on ICS intrusion operations. As seen in long-running state-sponsored intrusions into US, UK, and other electric infrastructure, entities are increasingly interested in the fundamentals of ICS operations and displaying all the hallmarks associated with information and access acquisition necessary to conduct future attacks. While Dragos sees no evidence at this time indicating that XENOTIME (or any other activity group, such as ELECTRUM or ALLANITE) is capable of executing a prolonged disruptive or destructive event on electric utility operations, observed activity strongly signals adversary interest in meeting the prerequisites for doing so.”

Heating Tapes: Application and Installation Tips

Heating Tape
High temperature tape (left) and
moisture & chemical resistant
tape (right).
Heating tapes are easy-to-use, ideal for a wide range of thermal applications, and inexpensive. This article will provide simple installation tips to improve your heating tape product life, application performance, and most importantly, your safety.

Why Heating Tapes?

Heating tapes offer many advantages for solving a wide range of gas, liquid, and solid heating applications. 

Advantages:
  1. Flexibility: Easily installs directly to a wide variety of surfaces and geometries (i.e. 1/4” diameter or larger piping, glassware, valves, reactors, chambers, etc.)
  2. Rapid and uniform heat-up due to high watt densities and user-configurable installations
  3. High temperature ranges
  4. Easily controlled with standard temperature controlling devices
  5. Variety of sizes, wattages, temperature ranges, and styles available to meet your exact heating requirements
Heating Tape
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions
while installing or removing heating tape.

Step 1: Preparation

Prepare surface to be heated: Wipe the surface making sure there is no foreign material, like liquid, on the surface.  Foreign material inhibits heat transfer and liquid can damage select models of heating tape (i.e. High-Temperature Heating Tapes).  

Make a visual inspection of heating tape: We recommend that you replace the heating tape if it becomes torn or damaged.  Damaged heating tape is a safety hazard and will not operate correctly. 

Selecting the Proper Heating Tape
Heating Tape
Figure B

Selection of your tape depends on: 
  • Length, diameter, and configuration of the surface to be heated
  • Required temperature
  • Required wattage
  • Environmental conditions (i.e. likelihood heating tape will come into contact with moisture or chemicals)

Step 2: Installing your Heating Tape
Heating Tape
Figure C

Heating tape can be installed on nearly any surface due to its flexibility.  Spiral wrap the heating tape onto the surface to be heated so that the length of one entire side of the heating tape is in full contact with the surface (Figure B). The distance between spiral wraps is dependent on the uniformity requirements and the amount of available heating tape.  A minimum distance of 1/8” is required between spiral wraps to avoid damage to the heating tape.
Attach the heating tape to the surface by either using built-in tie straps (Figure C), high-temperature adhesive tape (Figure D), or mechanical clamping devices that will not cause damage to the heating tape. 
Heating Tape
Figure D

Ensure the heating tape is not kinked, twisted, or hanging free from the surface (Figure E and F). Do not overlap heating tape on itself (Figure G). This can cause damage to the heating tape due to overheating.

Do's
  • Make sure you have selected the correct heating tape for your application. BriskHeat offers a wide range of sizes, voltages, and temperature ranges.
  • Visually check your heating tape prior to use.
  • Make sure that the heating tape makes full contact with the surface to be heated.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions while installing or removing heating tape.
Heating Tape
Don't kink or overlap, apply without control, apply over
insulation, never use near flammable materials,
do not submerge, and do not use if tape is cut or damaged.
Don'ts
  • Do not overlap the heating tape over itself
  • Do not use heating tape without a controlling device
  • Do not install heating tape on top of insulation near flammable materials, submerged in liquids, or if cut in any way.
For more information about heat tapes, or any industrial heating application, contact Alliance Technical Sales by calling 630-321-9646 or by visiting https://alliancets.com

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Safety, Quality, Productivity: Rethinking Gas Analytics Across Process Industries

GPro® 500
Mettler Toledo Process Analytics designs analyzers and sensors based around a simple concept – how can the design, handling, and maintenance of their products help you improve quality, productivity, and safety? This led to their rethinking gas analytics and the development of a unique portfolio of gas instruments that offers you faster measurements, greater process availability, and unequalled ease of use.

The Mettler Toledo GPro® 500 TDL O2, CO, CO2 and moisture analyzers are designed for ease of installation and low maintenance operation in a wide variety of process applications in the refining, petrochemical, and associated process industries.

The GPro® 500 oxygen gas analyzer is a unique tunable diode laser spectrometer designed for safety applications. It uses a folded-path laser beam design for simple installation and measurement.
GPro® 500 Overview:
  • Ideal for applications such as: flare safety control, combustion control, chlorination and oxychlorination, process control, ESP filter production, vent headers, inertization and vapor recovery.
  • Is installed in situ, so you get a quick response without the need to extract and condition a sample. This provides a fast response time so that you can make real-time reactions to out-of-spec conditions.
  • Is configurable, enabling the oxygen gas analyzer's measurement system to be paired with a variety of process adaptions to meet a wide range of installation requirements.
  • Uses Intelligent Sensor Management (ISM®) technology to offer predictive diagnostics on analyzer condition, including informing you when cleaning of the optical path will be required.

Applications covered in the eBook include:
  • Direct Chlorination
  • VCM Waste Gas Recovery
  • FCC Units
  • Electrostatic Precipitators
  • Formaldehyde Production
  • Formaldehyde Production
For more information about GPro® 500 TDL O2, CO, CO2 and moisture analyzers, contact Alliance Technical Sales by calling 630-321-9646 or by visiting https://alliancets.com

Friday, May 31, 2019

Industrial, Inline, Process Refractometers

Industrial inline refractometers
Industrial inline refractometers use of the principle of refractometry to assess the physical qualities of fluid. Using the device, the refractive index of the fluid is measured, which indicates whether the product is according to specification. The fundamental physical property helps in determining the purity and composition of fluids. 

Refractometers: An Overview


Refractometers are based on the principle of refractometry. The device measures the speed of a ray of light as it crosses from one medium to another. When light travels across two different media, its density and direction change. The change in direction is known as refraction. 
Every material has a different refractive index (RI) that refers to the ratio of the velocity of light in a vacuum to the velocity in a specific medium. 

Light travels faster in a medium with a lower optical density, resulting in a low reflective index. The lower the optical density of the medium, the lower will be the refractive index due to the higher speed of light. This principle of refractometry is used in various industrial processes for measuring different characteristics of a fluid such as: 
  • Hydrocarbon content 
  • Salinity
  • Sugar concentration
  • Protein concentration

Application of Refractometry in Industries 

Refractometry is used in many different industries. Let’s look at the application of the technique of different industrial processes.

Food and Beverage Industry 

Industrial inline refractometersRefractometry is commonly used in the beverage and food industry for quality control purposes. The technique helps in determining the purity and consistency of processed foods such as vegetables, jams, coffee, and dairy products.

The three important parameters that are assessed by refractometers in food processing. They include sugar percentage, acidity, and gelling agent concentration. These parameters are assessed to ensure the right mix that results in maximum shelf life.

The device is used for the measurement of percentage by weight of sugar in fruit juice. The measurement is also known as Brix. Accurate Brix measurement is critical for quality and cost control. The measurement can be carried out by assessing the density and refractive index. Both the parameters provide valuable insight into the content of the fruit. 

Chemical Industry 

Refractometry is also used for assessing the concentration of a range of chemicals in industries other than food and beverage. Sensors on refractometers installed on large tank, pipes, and reactor can determine the concentration of dissolved solids by optical measurement of the refractive index. The measurement is not influenced by bubbles, particles, temperature changes, or color of the liquid. 

Oil Refineries

Oil refineries also rely on refractometers to determine the quality of the oil. Refractive index is used to know the identity of the oil immediately. This method helps in quickly checking the oil that is transferred to the storage facility. 

Fertilizer Industry

Fertilizer industry also uses refractometry for assessing the quality of fertilizer solution. Density and refractive index are analyzed to find out the nitrogen concentration in the fertilizer. The method can help in assessing the quality of fertilizers easily, safely,  and cost-effectively as compared to the manual method. 

Pulp and Paper
Industrial inline refractometers

Pulp and paper mills use industrial refractometers for green liquor and black liquor processing. Green liquor and black liquor are both part of the Kraft Process whereby wood chips are broken down into their chemical constituents and wood pulp.

Other Users of Refractometry 

Refractometry is used in many other industries such as the perfume industry, coolants, lubricants industry, and the milk industry. The process helps in determining the quality and concentration of fluids in different industries. 

Contact Alliance Technical Sales with any questions about the application of process refractometers. They can be reached by phone at 630-321-9646 or by visiting https://alliancets.com.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Old Pharmaceutical Reactor Brought Back to Life with New Control System

A bioprocess control system update helped a leading manufacturer of USDA-licensed biologicals improve batch consistency. The pharmaceutical manufacturer had an 800 liter, 30+ year-old stainless steel, steam-in-place (SIP) reactor that was mechanically sound but in desperate need of a new controller. They needed to replace the production capability and required flexible controls for the varying products their customers produced. Of foremost concern was the cost to replace the idle system. ILS Automation came to their rescue.


Alliance Technical Sales
630-321-9646
https://alliancets.com