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QS Energy develops AOT viscosity reduction pressure vessel for midstream project

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World Pipelines,

QS Energy, Inc., a developer of integrated technology solutions for the energy industry, has announced that it has been asked to expand its product line by developing a high volume applied oil technology (AOT) viscosity reduction pressure vessel called the AOT-XL to improve flow efficiency within an existing crude oil offloading marine terminal. An earlier feasibility study had concluded that to accommodate the operational flowrates of this customer, a complicated and overly expensive deluge of standard AOT units would be required, which would have surpassed the available space for installation. The solution was to design the AOT-XL, a customised system capable of handling extreme flowrates while substantially reducing the complexity of installation and footprint necessary to position the system as requested.

This collaborative project involves a trial assessment and then full and potentially customer sponsored final engineering of the AOT-XL. This specially configured, high volume AOT system was designed upon request by the management team of a trusted, long term collaborative partner within the midstream sector of the domestic energy industry. Intended for very high volume pipeline environments, the AOT-XL will be fabricated to meet a target of 25 000 bph capacity (600 000 bpd). Initial laboratory tests of the efficacy of AOT functionality on one of the customer's crude oil samples at Temple University has also shown favourable results. Following a series of site visits by Mr. Bigger and the QS Energy product development team, the company is currently working towards the goal of collaboratively engineering the custom AOT-XL vessels, in conformity with strict ASME requirements, for an installation and further evaluation.

Greggory M. Bigger, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board, QS Energy, Inc., added that the opportunity to customise AOT technology for the marine tanker offloading facility was a direct result of QS Energy's involvement at the 2014 Pipeline Energy Group Conference, an invitation-only industry meeting held annually. Executives and engineers from many of the industry's leading crude oil producers and transporters first learned of AOT during the company's presentation entitled, 'New Innovations in Flow Assurance for Today's Energy Renaissance’. Following preliminary discussions concerning a potential collaborative development effort, a series of meetings of both teams occurred at QS Energy's offices, Temple University's Department of Physics, and the customer's Gulf of Mexico pipeline infrastructure, including their offshore platform.

"This multi year collaborative process encompassed numerous months of in-depth technical discussions, multiple meetings and several layers of communication between executives and engineers involved in the ownership, operation and continued expansion of this world class hydrocarbon transportation hub," said Bigger.

Originally developed in partnership with scientists at Temple University in Philadelphia, Penn., AOT is the energy industry's first crude oil pipeline technology using low wattage electrical fields to optimise the performance of midstream pipeline systems. A current installation on a high volume commercial pipeline recently provided the company with its first SCADA output using a standard AOT vessel. The upcoming AOT-XL was reconfigured from the latest version of the AOT and conceptualised through QS Energy's collaboration with Temple University researchers, and the company's supply chain and manufacturing partners.

The standard AOT design is comprised of an ASME VIII 1440 psi rated vessel, measuring approximately 7 ft long by 7 ft, 6 in. wide by 30 ft in height and weighing 33 000 lbs. Each unit is equipped with a 36 in. ID pressure vessel and 20 in. flanges and is rated for a flow capacity of over 6000 bph. The new AOT-XL design will use a skid that can be designed as small as approximately 9 ft long by 9 ft wide (skid designs are customised depending on customer's choice), and is 36 ft or greater in height and weighs 52 000 lbs. (excluding structural steel). The AOT-XL design includes a 60 in. OD pressure vessel with 36 in. inlet/outlet flanges and is rated for approximately 25,000 bbl/hr. of flow per unit. The skid has been reconfigured to allow tight placement of the AOT system and provides for the substantially larger individual AOT-XL to use just slightly more floor space as the standard AOT design. As with the smaller standard AOT, any number of the AOT-XL vessels can be installed in parallel to accommodate the customers flowrate.

Bigger added that a highly detailed cost/benefit analysis of the AOT-XL system has been delivered to the customer for presentation at the next asset management meeting of their stakeholder companies for potential funding of the project. The meeting of this consortium, which jointly shares ownership of the offloading facility, is scheduled for late first quarter 2017.

If approved, the funding of a single standard-AOT installation in the coming months would provide for a "slipstream" unit, a mandatory and vital first phase. Among the provisions of this installation is that QS Energy will capture real-time measurement of viscosity and temperature values which will provide data necessary to the ongoing design process of a very complicated full-scale AOT-XL deployment across the customer's marine and land-based assets.

"Having access to operational metrics gathered by our inline sensors is critical to ensuring our technology's ability to accommodate the customer's batch processing operations and to maximise the performance of the AOT-XL moving forward," Bigger stated. "We expect to analyse the movement of close to 40 hydrocarbon products during this installation, furnishing us with insight into the AOT-XL's ability to treat crude oils with a wide range of API gravity."

"As with each of our customer engagements, our objective is to play a pivotal role in creating cleaner and greater efficiencies in the movement of crude oil within the existing infrastructure of this entity," Bigger commented. "The selection of AOT technology as having the potential to streamline their operations was based on our ability to meet the unique challenges of delivering meaningful flow improvement within the space restrictions of their assets and massive flowrates. We are hopeful and believe that this will lead to the provisioning of additional custom AOT-XL units on their offshore terminal and sea-to-shore pipelines."

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