Solar powered actuators for slurry pipeline in the Chilean desert


Solar powered actuators for slurry pipeline in the Chilean desert

Rotork Skilmatic EH electro-hydraulic valve actuators have provided a successful solution for the provision of reliable emergency valve operation on a slurry pipeline in one of the world’s most arid, inhospitable and remote locations.

The Atacama Desert in north-east Chile is traversed by an eighty kilometre pipeline owned by the mining company Compañia Minera del Pacifico SA.  The pipeline carries iron slurry from the town of Copiapo to the port of Caldera, from where it is exported.  The Rotork actuators have been installed at the UVS-1 emergency plant centre, half way along the pipeline and in the middle of the Atacama Desert.  Here, the annual rainfall is a meagre 12mm and the ambient temperature fluctuates between -15°C in winter and +40°C in summer.

Three Skilmatic EH electro-hydraulic actuators have been installed to operate ANSI Class 1500 ten-inch ball valves.  The actuators provide double-acting on-off control for the valves, under remote SCADA system supervision. The innovative Rotork Skilmatic EH design comprises an integrated control module, a hydraulic manifold and a power unit consisting of a motor, hydraulic pump and reservoir.  Protected by a waterproof, dustproof and explosionproof enclosure, the actuators’ electronic functionality benefits from Rotork’s IQ intelligent electric actuation technology, providing configuration, diagnostics, fault indication and position indication by means of a digital visual display and non-intrusive, two-way communication with a hand-held programmer.  The self-contained actuators operate from a 24 Volt DC supply, enabling an efficient, economic and environmentally friendly solar powered battery system to be used.  The security of emergency operation is further enhanced at this site by back-up nitrogen tanks which enable each actuator to perform three valve strokes.

Gabriel De Visnyey, Rotork Fluid Systems Regional Sales Manager for Latin America, explains:  “The Atacama Desert project is one of a number of remote pipeline applications which have recently adopted the Rotork Skilmatic EH solution.  The features inherent in the electro-hydraulic design are ideal for remote installations and facilitate the use of renewable energy sources such as solar power whenever possible”.

The actuators for the UVS-1 emergency plant centre were sold by Rotork’s Chilean representative Ineco Ltda, who are providing local support.  The procurement and construction contractor for the project is Constructora Belfi and the engineering contractor is Brass.