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Klaus Brun, Elliott’s new R&D Director, discusses company capabilities and his plans for R&D, customization versus standardization, the aftermarket and market trends
What attracted you to Elliott?
Historically, Elliott has been a technology leader and innovator in the development of advanced and novel turbomachinery products. We are committed to continuing this legacy, and recently made a significant investment in new research facilities, test loops and human resources.
What can you contribute there?
Working in an environment that openly encourages new ideas, novel products and long-term R&D initiatives provides a basis for successful technology development. Elliott looks beyond near-term product evolution and encourages game-changing product development. Few companies offer this type of environment and have this strong a commitment to R&D.
What R&D areas have you outlined for Elliott?
Elliott Group has a new state-of-the-art R&D Center and an active, ongoing R&D program that strives to continuously improve upon existing products and develop new products. Our customers in the energy sector demand products for challenging applications. To meet their needs, we have initiated several multimillion dollar efforts in the areas of centrifugal compressors, steam turbines and cryogenic pumps that will generate improvements in performance, operability and reliability. They are primarily focused on our traditional oil & gas markets, but we are also reviewing product options for new markets, such as energy storage, waste heat recovery, geothermal energy, gas-to-liquids and cryodynamic machinery. In the long-term we are looking at developing design tools to customize and optimize our compressor, turbine, expander, and pump products to be generally application agnostic.
How are Elliott compressors used?
Elliott offers centrifugal compressors and steam turbine drivers with a primary focus on the petrochemical, refinery and LNG markets. Our vertically and horizontally split centrifugal compressors include some of the largest ever built (flow ranges from 300 m3/hr to giants of almost 500,000 cfm and pressures of 690 barg). We focus on customizing products to provide optimal performance, range, reliability and durability in challenging process applications with complex hydrocarbon fluids.
What are the applications for Elliott steam turbines?
Elliott steam turbines generate power or drive equipment, such as pumps, fans, generators and compressors in all our markets. They range from single-stage machines of several thousand horsepower to 100 thousand horsepower. They are often paired with Elliott compressors in refrigeration applications.
Can you discuss recent successes?
We completed several large machinery trains for central Europe and South-East Asia. We are currently working on similar machinery for the Middle East. We have also completed several large compressors for refineries in North America and Asia Pacific.
How much custom engineering is required compared to standardization?
With the widespread adopt ion of advanced manufacturing technologies and modern engineering analysis tools, the future of turbomachinery design lies in customization of machinery for its desired operating conditions for maximum efficiency, range and life. With advanced design tools and 3-D manufacturing technology, standardization is overly simplistic and can result in machines that are less than optimal for a given application.
What general trends have you observed?
We have noted a geographically broad resurgence of oil & gas in all turbomachinery market segments. In the mid- to long-term, we expect that the refinery, LNG, petrochemical and liquefied gas industries will perform well. We are making sure that our product offering align with these trends.
What aftermarket trends have you observed?
The trend in the turbomachinery aftermarket had been to standardize products into sub-assemblies for modular exchanges, and to centralize repair and overhaul centers to mitigate manufacturer operational costs. However, we have recently seen a reversal with a desire for customized repair procedures, and the return of local and regionally distributed service centers closer to production plants and facilities. Elliott has major manufacturing facilities in both the U.S. and Japan and more than 20 service centers around the world. We offer customized repairs to meet client requirements. The aftermarket and Elliott’s service offering are a critical piece of our R&D program. We believe that we must support our clients with technology and engineered solutions that allow them to optimize their existing machinery for safety, performance and efficiency.
What do you think of efforts to lower the carbon footprint by focusing on gas instead of oil?
Oil and gas are associated products that cannot be separated. Both are usually produced at the same time, often from the same wells. Elliott offers machinery for both the gas and oil markets. Although we have a product line for upstream and midstream gas transport, we have no intention of deemphasizing or neglecting the oil and liquid products side. World oil production has grown by almost 30 million barrels per day since the 1980s (almost a 50% increase). It is projected to grow at a similar rate over the next 20–30 years. This oil must be converted into transportation and consumer hydrocarbon products. Elliott stands ready to support this with turbomachinery products.