Executive Viewpoint: Innovative DCS targets biogas, LNG applications

J. Hautaluoma, Valmet Automation

New technologies, both process and digital, are revitalizing the hydrocarbon processing industry. Gas Processing & LNG talked with Jani Hautaluoma, Director of Process Automation for Valmet Automation, about the application of new production processes and digital advances for biogas and LNG production.

GP: How are Valmet’s solutions involved in the production of LNG from biogas?

JH: One of our strategic targets is to expand within the LNG industry. We use our experience in field-tested technology based on Valmet DNA automation products for data collection.

Valmet DNA is a distributed control system (DCS) and information platform for process automation applications. It combines all controls for the process, machine, quality, supervisory, drive, optimizations and mechanical condition monitoring into a single platform.

On top of this proven platform, we have built a completely new user environment to control the LNG value chain. We operate worldwide, although our efforts have been more focused on Europe to date.

GP: Can you share any case examples of recent installations?

JH: Our process automation system, Valmet DNA, was developed starting from the pulp and paper industry. It is scalable from a single, standalone controller to a plant-wide system.

A recent reference is an upgrade project to a pulp plant. As part of the project, the mill has replaced LPG fuel with low-emissions LNG in the burners of the drying processes on its pulp machines.

Liquefied biogas can also be used instead of LNG, as biogas availability will continue to grow. This pulp plant reference shows the versatility of Valmet’s automation. There are hundreds of different industry deliveries; this is just one example.

GP: What is Valmet’s forecast for small-scale LNG production growth, particularly LNG from biofeedstocks?

JH: We see the market growing for several reasons. There is a need for clean energy. Circular economy forces us to look for renewable solutions, which is a good thing. It is beneficial for companies to reuse waste from their industrial processes.

One example of our wide reference log is a small biogas plant—in fact, the northernmost plant in the world—where an educational institution uses cattle manure to produce biogas, using our automation solution. The school’s target is to ultimately become energy self-sufficient.

The Valmet DNA solution ranges from a micro-sized system, including the world’s smallest fully functional user interface, to mill- and plant-wide systems that support global organizations.

GP: What does Valmet see as the biggest cybersecurity threats—and solutions to mitigate the risk of these threats—for plant DCSs?

JH: Security is an essential part of our business, and cybersecurity is a major issue at Valmet. We continuously follow up on new security threats and rebuild our defense solutions accordingly. This allows our customers to keep automation system cybersecurity up to date throughout the system’s entire lifecycle.

In connection with our automation system, Valmet takes care of security audits, continuous security updates, patch management and, of course, training for personnel.

GP: How does Valmet’s emphasis on energy from biogas contribute to sustainability efforts?

JH: We see a lot of potential in biogas driving the circular economy. Traditionally, biogas plants have been small-scale plants used to produce heat and electricity in Central Europe, and to produce kitchen gas from local agricultural waste in Asia. They can also be used to extract biogas from old landfills as landfill gas (LFG).

For decades, the biogas process has also been a part of wastewater treatment systems. Now, we are seeing growth potential in building a new generation of biogas plants that not only handle waste, but also profit from selling the biogas as vehicle fuel and fuel for industrial use, including compressed natural gas. GP


Author Pic Hautaluoma

Jani Hautaluoma is the Director of Process Automation for Valmet Automation, where he focuses on developing LNG operations within the small-scale LNG industry. He previously led the startup and operations teams at Skangas’ Pori LNG terminal, the first LNG terminal in Finland; and worked with LNG-fueled coast guard bunkering and truck-to-ship bunkering at Viking Grace. He has developed operational strategies for LNG terminals to minimize OPEX, based on high-level automation with remote operations. Mr. Hautaluoma holds a BSc degree in engineering from the University of Applied Sciences in Tampere, Finland.



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