A NEW £1m testing centre for components used in fuelling ships is another feather in the cap for an engineering group.
Alpha Process Controls (APC), a member of the GT Group, has created a specialist in-house test centre to support the manufacture and commissioning of its marine emergency release couplings for Liquid Nitrogen Gas (LNG) transfer.
It comes just days after GT Group featured on the Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 of the country’s top 200 companies with the fastest-growing overseas sales.
The couplings are used when a ship is fuelled at sea or from the shore and are used to stop any leakage between connecting fuel pipes.
The test facility, which represents a £1m investment by the Peterlee-based company, uses a pressurised water system calibrated to supply water at a comparable rate to LNG during ship to ship transfer, to ensure couplings deliver optimum performance and meet stringent industry standards.
As well as testing new couplings, the centre, in Traynor Way, can also manage the overhaul, retesting and re-commissioning of units that have already been in operation around the globe.
APC’s Marine ERC Breakaway Coupling System is part of a larger family of couplings developed by the company.
Alongside its experience of delivering solutions for onshore vehicle-based transfer of LNG, APC has undertaken extensive research and development to create cost-effective LNG safety couplings for the marine industry.
In the case of an emergency situation such as two vessels drifting apart, the system’s revolutionary control mechanism activate, even when LNG is in the full flow of transfer, closing down internal valves at a controlled rate to reduce the effects of pressure spikes.
APC’s managing director John Lamb said: “The completion of the test centre is a core element of delivering our revolutionary LNG transfer systems to the energy industry.
“Alpha is in the minority of coupling manufacturers able to provide these in-house test facilities, which, therefore, provides our customers with a more comprehensive and cost-effective service.
“Throughout our family of coupling systems is a commitment to safety, which meets the rigorous standards demanded by international maritime organisations and oil and gas companies.
“Through continual research, development and testing we have created a solution in which operators can have the ultimate confidence.”
GT Group chairman Geoff Turnbull said: “Innovation and quality are hallmarks of all the GT Group’s businesses and APC is at the forefront of delivering technology-led systems, which address the challenges of the growing international LNG market.”