Navigating the future of green ammonia infrastructure

21 December 2023
CB&I aims to contribute to the global energy transition through ongoing innovation and a commitment to excellence

In conversation with Mark D Butts, vice president - engineering, CB&I

What role does ammonia play in the energy transition, and how is CB&I leveraging its low-temperature storage and systems expertise to create solutions for customers?

Ammonia is a versatile and sustainable component in various aspects of the energy landscape.

CB&I’s experience enables us to navigate the complexities of ammonia storage and boil-off gas handling systems, send-out and ship loading systems and associated utilities. We are adept at tailoring solutions for various applications, contributing to the industry’s shift towards sustainable energy.

With over 350 storage tanks and 20 terminals dedicated to ammonia, CB&I combines materials and welding engineering knowledge, innovative storage tank design and efficient construction methods to deliver comprehensive and cutting-edge low-temperature storage solutions for the energy industry.

CB&I balances customer design criteria with practical limits on constructability, employing advanced design techniques to ensure the successful design and construction of large storage tanks.

The company’s construction technology group develops safe construction methods for large structures. This ensures that the company not only designs state-of-the-art storage solutions but also executes its construction with the highest safety and efficiency standards.

Our partnerships with key vendors and equipment suppliers in the ammonia space enable streamlined coordination of materials and equipment, encompassing components such as boil-off gas handling systems, send-out infrastructure and ship loading systems.

What measures does CB&I take to prevent stress corrosion cracking in ammonia storage tanks and how does your in-house welding technology group contribute to ensuring the integrity of these structures?

CB&I’s welding technology group, specialising in engineering, metallurgical analysis and non-destructive examination, ensures that our designs incorporate proprietary welding techniques and material requirements, minimising the risk of stress corrosion cracking.

Preventing stress corrosion cracking is paramount in our ammonia projects. Our welding technology group, through ongoing research, has developed ammonia-specific material requirements and welding techniques.

CB&I’s material specifications and welding procedures achieve the right balance between low-temperature toughness, which is required to prevent brittle failure; strength, which is needed to achieve large tank designs; and low hardness in the weld joint, which is necessary to prevent stress corrosion cracking.

How does CB&I’s project delivery model ensure cost and schedule certainty for clients, especially in green ammonia infrastructure projects?

Our project delivery model is rooted in self-execution, providing schedule and cost certainty to CB&I’s customers. From concept to commissioning, we plan and execute to control schedules, reduce risks and enhance productivity.

CB&I’s project delivery model is a strategic approach encompassing the entire project life cycle, supporting success for complex low-temperature and cryogenic storage infrastructure projects. This model integrates expertise across engineering, procurement and construction phases, providing a seamless and efficient process for project delivery.

How do you see the industry evolving in the coming years when it comes to ammonia applications?

CB&I foresees the industry evolving towards extensive ammonia applications in the coming years, particularly in blue and green hydrogen production.

Leveraging its experience in ammonia storage and terminals, CB&I aims to scale up and expand the industry’s capabilities in the storage and distribution of blue and green hydrogen through ammonia. This strategic approach aligns with the overarching goal of decarbonising the world’s energy systems, positioning CB&I as a driving force in shaping the future of sustainable energy solutions.

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