Clarifying our facility specifications
I am a Project Manager at Prodeval Canada.
Here’s a rundown of my daily routine with our clients. They include agricultural organizations, municipalities, and treatment plants, and are represented by mechanical, electrical, and instrumentation engineers—the experts who, together with the project manager, oversee the entire job site. They’re the people I interact with on a regular basis.
I also deal with the suppliers of all the components that go into our products.
As such, I serve as liaison between the client and its representatives, the suppliers, and the Prodeval team.
Lastly, I document all the specifications outlined in the contract.
What are the specifications?
The specifications relate to the mechanical, electrical, and instrumentation processes. I have to describe in detail and validate each of the characteristics and requirements governing our products and facilities.
To do so, I must first review the agreement that binds us to the client and then, together, we reexamine each item. This process sometimes leads to changes that can impact the overall project, including its development, costs, and schedule.
It is very important to confirm every detail and anticipate all potential issues prior to the execution phase. Hence the need to start by validating all initial assumptions as well as the client’s needs based on what inputs will be used in the process (waste, its composition, the recipe) and what the expected output will be (a biomethane of a certain purity).
Let’s go through this step by step, with the help of a few metaphors.
One step at a time
Looking at our facility from the outside, we see a black box (or green!) and an assembly of containers. The facility can occupy a surface area equivalent to the size of a supermarket parking lot. My task is to describe and document everything that is found on the inside—prior to manufacturing and installation.
Each piece of equipment, whether it’s a heat exchanger, pump, condenser, or cooler, has its own technical data sheet. I’m currently working on a project with 32 components, but there can be upwards of 100! The equipment, along with all the fittings and pipework, is highly complex. And every piece must be described in terms that are perfectly clear for everyone, including those who will be manufacturing and installing the parts.
Let’s take the example of baking a chocolate cake. We would have to not only list the ingredients, their quantities, and the various steps of the recipe, but also give a precise description of which appliances (and accessories) are needed to prepare the recipe, from the electric blender to the oven for baking.
Once the documentation is completed, the focus turns to the mechanical drawings and diagrams that are required to manufacture and install each component.
This involves planning the entire piping system and power requirements for connecting and operating the various chain components.
While the standards are international, each country adapts them based on its specific geography, soil, climate, and measurement system. As such, part of my role is to ensure that the Canadian standards are met.
Every decision we make impacts everyone involved in the project, so you can imagine all the back and forth that went into trying to get all the stakeholders on the same page! I’ll spare you the details of the discussions between engineers (big smile).
When the final documentation is completed and approved, we can then finalize the schedule so as to avoid any unexpected delays or overruns. Ultimately, the schedule and specifications provided will allow the client to monitor every step of the production and installation.
The plant is finally set to begin production, and the biogas will be ready for resale to the local network.
Prodeval’s Engineering division manages a large portion of the overall installation. Once the waste is collected and segregated, and the methane (unpurified) is extracted, Engineering oversees every aspect of the contaminant purification process that allows biogas to be converted to a purified biogas, also called biomethane (or RNG), using products such as:
- Valogaz — pretreatment to remove water;
- Valopack — pretreatment and conditioning to eliminate pollutants such as H2S and VOCs;
- Valopur — purification by membrane separation of CO2 and CH4.
The CH4—methane that has been stripped of pollutants, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and carbon dioxide—is the desired product.
The entire process requires the participation of many Prodeval teams—engineers and technicians—whose jobs will be described in future articles.
Forging forward with new projects
Each client has unique needs, so each project is different. That’s what adds spice to my work. I need to fully understand the needs of each client and be able to provide a tailor‑made, perfectly adapted solution.
I also have to shuffle from one team to another, from small projects to very large ones, from projects in the start-up phase to those in the final stages, always with unwavering enthusiasm and curiosity.
After all, my work revolves around improving the well-being of others, ensuring a better use of resources, and helping make our planet a healthier place. How wonderful is that?