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Renergen brings liquid helium back online following shutdown

Renergen CEO Stefano Marani

Renergen CEO Stefano Marani

11th June 2024

By: Darren Parker

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

     

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Renergen has completed the shutdown, checks, calibrations and corrective actions at its liquid helium facility, in Virginia, in the Free State, and has restarted the facility, resuming liquid helium production as of June 4.

An original-equipment manufacturer (OEM) in April brought the helium cold box to the appropriate temperature to liquify helium in batches from wells at the project area. This process involved the purification of the helium to a level of 99.999% purity, which was validated by an independent third-party laboratory.

Thereafter, Renergen advised that it would shut down the facility to restart the process from warm, demonstrating repeatability while undertaking system checks, calibrations and addressing possible corrective actions if necessary.

The liquid helium now produced is being used to cool the remaining components of the helium train, such as tanks and pipes, to about -269 °C.

Renergen said on June 11 that the OEM contractor must now demonstrate that it is operating the entire plant at desired temperature, pressure and production flow parameters before the contractor is allowed to begin final contractual obligation of completing a performance test.

The performance test is envisioned to run over a period of seven days and will measure several critical criteria that span recoverability of product, purity of product, and overall utility efficiency to ensure the plant performs in accordance with the original design specifications.

Helium produced during this period will be kept in storage for supply to Renergen’s customer.

Renergen has appointed two independent helium consultants to bolster its skillset for operation once the performance test is complete and the plant has been handed over.

The consultants have a cumulation of several decades of experience in commissioning and running liquid helium plants around the world, in countries such as Algeria, Australia, Poland, Qatar, Russia and the US.

These consultants have already had the opportunity to engage and review the relevant design data of the process plant and assess the overall progress of the commissioning team on the front-end part of the process so far.

They have indicated that no fundamental issues are likely to exist with the plant, as Renergen has successfully liquified helium from raw gas with proven repeatability, and further confirmed that the processes currently being followed are standard commissioning procedures for a helium plant.

Renergen emphasised the importance of patience in this final stage of the commissioning process, as it is a crucial step in ensuring the optimal performance of the plant.

"We acknowledge it has taken longer than originally planned to reach this step, but ensuring the safe operation of the plant is our main priority right now. The progress achieved to date puts us amongst only a few companies globally to achieve this status.

“It is too easy to focus on the larger milestones and ignore smaller ones, but we should not lose sight that we will shortly own and operate one of about less than 20 liquid helium production facilities globally," Renergen CEO Stefano Marani said.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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