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An Alarming Experience: Results Of An Undergraduate Chemical Process Alarm Lab Module

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Learning By Doing in Chemical Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.136.1 - 15.136.10



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Paper Authors

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Peyton Richmond Lamar University

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John Gossage Lamar University

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Qiang Xu Lamar University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

An Alarming Experience: Results of an Undergraduate Chemical Process Alarm Lab Module Abstract

Since the introduction of the Distributed Control System (DCS), process plant alarms have become essentially free, resulting in a tendency for the process engineer to implement more and more process alarms. The problem with over alarming a chemical process is that the operators, whose main responsibility is the safe operation of the process, will have to sift through the alarms to distinguish which are more important and require immediate action. This alarming problem has been identified as a contributing factor in numerous chemical process incidents, such as the Texaco Pembroke Refinery in the UK and others on the Gulf Coast.

Alarm issues are caused when newly minted chemical engineering graduates become process engineers and are asked to suggest alarm settings for their projects without having an understanding of alarm management principles. Therefore we have developed this Alarm Documentation and Rationalization (D&R) Module to introduce alarm management concepts to undergraduate students.

In this paper we describe our experience exposing undergraduate students to this D&R module and allowing them to implement and test their alarm settings on an actual DCS. Groups of four to five students were assigned to perform a D&R study on the process alarms for a reformate stabilizer column simulated in HYSYS and similar to such columns at many refineries. Students were asked to perform one of the following roles: process engineer, process control engineer, superintendent, or operator. Then, aided with D&R instructional material, including sample alarm configurations provided by local industry, they were tasked with rationalizing the alarms for this system. The module concluded by allowing the students to implement the alarms and test their operation on an actual DCS system.

Selected Acronyms

BNC A small device for connecting coaxial cables with a snap-lock architecture which keeps the plug firmly in its socket CAT5 Category 5 cable defined in ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-A D&R Documentation and Rationalization DCS Distributed Control System HAZOP Hazard and Operability Study LOPA Layer of Protection Analysis PSA Process Safety Analysis PV Measured Process Variable PVHH High-High PV Alarm Setpoint PVHI High PV Alarm Setpoint PVLL Low-Low PV Alarm Setpoint PVLO Low PV Alarm Setpoint TDC3000 Honeywell DCS Common in Refining and Petrochemical Industries

Richmond, P., & Gossage, J., & Xu, Q. (2010, June), An Alarming Experience: Results Of An Undergraduate Chemical Process Alarm Lab Module Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16021

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