Basics and Benefits

  • Why does the Kathairos solution utilize nitrogen as an alternative fuel source to methane to power well site pneumatics?

    Nitrogen is abundant, non-corrosive, non-flammable, waterless and is not a greenhouse gas, which makes it an ideal candidate to replace natural gas used by pneumatic devices.

  • Is nitrogen safe to use?

    Absolutely. Nitrogen has an extensive safety record in many other industries around the world, including the medical, metallurgical and food industries. Further, our nitrogen tanks are installed outside where ventilation is abundant.

    Inside process buildings, where instrument and tubing leaks could result in reduced oxygen levels, operators need to only use standard monitors along with building entry procedures to minimize risks, just as they would with existing fuel gas systems.

  • What makes nitrogen an ideal fuel source for pneumatics?

    Nitrogen is a non-corrosive, non-flammable, non-polluting gas that can replace the methane gas traditionally used at remote well sites to actuate pneumatics. We take advantage of nitrogen's natural tendency to turn from liquid back to gaseous state in order to power valves, pumps and pneumatic devices. The Kathairos system requires no onsite power and operates flawlessly in all regions and weather conditions. Why? Because when liquid nitrogen inside the tank is -320°F, the tank doesn’t much care if it’s in a –40°F polar vortex or the 120°F Texas heat – the vacuum-pulled cryogenic vessel operates the same. And because nitrogen is completely dry and there is no water vapor whatsoever in the tank, you’re never at risk of a freeze-up in your lines. Lastly, because it’s inert, unlike instrument air systems, you’re avoiding the introduction of oxygen into the system and the hazards that come with it.

  • What exactly do your liquid nitrogen tanks do?

    Conveniently manufactured as a compact free-standing integrated system, our nitrogen storage tanks range from 265L to 5,500L and can deliver nitrogen gas at ambient temperatures at a desired volume and pressure. Our engineers and field operators survey site specifics and consult well use trends to select the right-sized tanks based on pneumatic vent requirements and optimum refill frequency. 

    Every Kathairos unit is equipped with cellular or satellite telemetry, which wirelessly alerts a web-based data portal, the Kathairos app and the Kathairos distribution network when tanks require refilling. The system has no moving parts, requires no maintenance, requires no electricity and generates no onsite emissions.  Almost all system functions are automated, with operator involvement reduced to a single on/off gas supply valve.  Approved for use in all Canadian provinces and US states, our units can be rapidly deployed, relocated with ease and used to address thousands of sites.

  • Is the Kathairos solution scalable?

    Yes, it is highly scalable. Due to the simplicity of system installation and the ability of our manufacturing partner to ramp up production to thousands of units per month, the Kathairos system is ideally suited to efficiently and effectively address the more than 400,000 unaddressed well sites in a timeframe that meets ambitious industry targets and incoming government regulations.

  • How long does the system last?

    With no moving parts, no outside power required, and a simple double-walled storage vessel that evaporates liquid nitrogen into gaseous nitrogen at precisely the volume and pressure required by the pneumatics, the Kathairos system can be in operation for 30 years without issue. After which, the cryogenic vessel is simply recertified for continued operation. Alternative solutions that require generators, batteries, and solar panels can depreciate quickly and result in breakdown, site downtime, and costly repairs.

  • Is the system reliable?

    The Kathairos solution is an exceptionally reliable system because it has no moving parts. and performs the same regardless of outside temperature or weather conditions, because it is a closed system. Quite simply, the system cannot fail unless the laws of thermodynamics fail first.

Operations and Specifications

  • What is the footprint of the Kathairos system?

    The Kathairos tanks are conveniently manufactured as compact free-standing integrated systems, installed on galvanized steel pallets. Our largest tank pallet measures 8.5’ x 7’ (2.5m x 2m).

  • Can the units operate in -50°C (-58F) weather for extended periods of time?

    Absolutely. The units are highly reliable and can easily operate in cold (and hot) weather for extended periods of time.

  • What is the delivered nitrogen gas pressure of the Kathairos system?

    The supply gas pressure is controlled by a regulator, adjusted onsite to meet the user’s specific requirements. Standard delivery pressure range is 40 to 110 psig with other pressure options are available upon request.

  • What is the maximum flow rate and supply pressure?

    Short duration flowrates can be as high as 165 Sm3/h (0-6000 scfh), depending on the unit. High pressure (500psig MAWP) units are also available.

  • What is the delivery temperature?

    The system is designed to supply nitrogen gas at near ambient temperatures under normal operating conditions. The tank is equipped with an internal/integrated exchanger that uses the outer tank as an extended fin.

  • Can the tank pressure be limited to a value lower than the maximum allowable working pressure?

    Yes, our tanks come equipped with a pressure maintenance regulator which limits the tank pressure to 200-250psig, depending on the tank size.

  • Does Kathairos offer training and support for the operator?

    Yes, we are happy to provide an information session to review general tank operation and safety considerations associated with the system. It doesn’t take long, however, for our producer partners to learn that the Kathairos field personnel will be the ones handling all aspect of system operation, including nitrogen refills, telemetry adjustments and any other system oversight that is required. However, our field team will give a complete overview of the system during the commissioning phase, and anytime thereafter as needed.

  • How does Kathairos convert the nitrogen from liquid to gas?

    When stored in a cryogenic vessel, liquid nitrogen builds pressure as it becomes gas. The Kathairos system utilizes this naturally occurring phenomenon by controlling the vaporization rate of the liquid nitrogen and thereby the resulting pressure, temperature and flow of nitrogen gas. Key components of the system include a support base, liquid nitrogen storage tank, pressure-temperature-flow control, safety devices, instrumentation and cellular or satellite telemetry.

  • Why is liquid better than gaseous nitrogen for use in powering well site pneumatics?

    Great question, and this is precisely where our pending patent lies: the actuation of well site pneumatic devices using liquid nitrogen. Liquid nitrogen is particularly useful as it expands by 700x when it warms from its liquid state back into a gas, making it an excellent, long-lasting replacement for field gas in powering pneumatics. While many producers have experimented with nitrogen gas canisters along the way, they quickly learn that it is expensive, heavy, and requires a great deal of operator involvement. Further, the N2 gas supply doesn’t last very long, and with no fixed telemetry on canisters that are constantly being swapped out and replaced, there’s no way to measure consumption, mitigation, economics or impact, either. Liquid nitrogen and a fixed tank and telemetry system that is refilled once per month by Kathairos personnel changes all of that.

Site Assessment, Deployment and Optimization

  • How often do the tanks need to be refilled?

    Our liquid nitrogen tanks are typically refilled once per month depending on site-specific demand requirements. The tanks are carefully and specifically sized for each location based on the volume of methane being vented prior to addressing the site, and other process conditions, pneumatic inventories and site considerations. The nitrogen usage rates may vary throughout the year due to the seasonal use of certain pneumatic devices such as methanol pumps in colder climates, or frequency of dump valve actuation in general. Likewise, if additional wells or devices are brought online, the tank size or refill frequency can be easily adjusted as needed.

  • What happens when production declines over time?

    As well site production volumes decrease, your instrument gas requirements also typically decline due to reduced pneumatic activity. We offer system right-sizing and will swap out your existing tank with a smaller size if necessary, to ensure that you optimize nitrogen use and maintain the lowest monthly tank rental cost possible.

  • What pneumatic devices and additional emissions elimination applications does the Kathairos system support?

    The various applications and devices Kathairos’ liquid nitrogen system supports:

    • Instrument gas-powered pneumatics of all kinds, including
      • Level controllers
      • Pressure controllers
      • Emergency shut down devices
      • Pressure switches
      • Level switches
      • Temperature controllers
      • Flow controllers
      • Pneumatic pumps
    • Specialty applications the Kathairos solution can support:
      • Engine starter applications
      • Purge applications
      • Tank blanketing
      • Pigging applications
      • Midstream facilities
  • What does the installation and implementation process of the Kathairos system entail?

    First, the tank is sized according to estimated consumption rates based on pneumatic inventories and operating conditions. Our applications engineers and project managers generally target a monthly refill cycle when modeling the site, unless the producer requests otherwise.

    Upon approval from the customer, the tank order is placed, and production immediately begins at our manufacturing partner Chart Industry’s facility in Ball Ground, Georgia or Theodore, Alabama.

    Tank production timeline is guaranteed to be eight weeks or less. Yes, that means from the time the customer signs off on sizing and price, the order is placed, and within eight weeks, Kathairos delivers them to the customer’s staging yard anywhere in North America. When we have local inventory available at our Field Office and Yard locations, which is a standard practice in every basin we operate in, we can often have the first batch of tanks delivered to the customer within a matter of days.

    The tanks are equipped with a steel pallet base so they can be set directly on solid/level ground, with no prep work required. Some customers opt to set tanks on gravel pads, but it is not necessary.

    Once the tank is set onsite, the customer completes the tie-in process by connecting the tank supply to their existing pneumatic system through the singular gas use connection.

    In many cases, customers can utilize existing pneumatic lines, so the tie-in process is very simple.

    At any time, Kathairos’ highly experienced engineers, project teams and field crews can offer advice and support on recommended tubing and tie-in materials and configuration, and what the process should (or shouldn’t!) cost the producer.

    Once the tie-in process is complete, Kathairos personnel complete the commissioning of the tank. This includes the initial cooldown, fill, and telemetry activation, and the opening of a singular valve to initiate operation. Alternatively, depending on customer timelines and requirements, the tank can be set, commissioned and filled, and then tied in when the customer is ready.

Pneumatics 101

  • What are pneumatics, anyway?

    Pneumatic devices play a crucial role in various processes at oil and gas sites. Pneumatics is a branch of engineering that uses compressed air or gas to transmit and control mechanical energy. Pneumatic systems are valued in the oil and gas industry for their reliability, simplicity, and suitability for certain hazardous environments. In the context of oil and gas sites, pneumatic devices are commonly used for tasks such as controlling valves, actuating cylinders, and powering instruments.

    Because pneumatic devices use compressed gas as a power source, the motive gas used to control the pneumatic actuator must be expelled once certain set-points are reached or cycles are completed. This intentional release of gas is often an aspect of their operation. Unfortunately, in the case of oil and gas operations, the gas being vented is typically natural gas, of which the primary component is methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas.

  • What is a pneumatic control valve?

    Pneumatic control valves are commonly used to regulate the flow of fluids in pipelines. These valves are actuated by compressed gas. When a control signal is sent, the pneumatic actuator opens or closes the valve, allowing or restricting the flow of fluids.

  • What is a pneumatic actuator?

    Pneumatic actuators convert the energy from compressed gas into mechanical motion. They are often used to automate processes, such as opening and closing valves or moving equipment. Common types of pneumatic actuators include pneumatic cylinders and rotary actuators.

  • What is a pneumatic instrument?

    Pneumatic instruments are used for measurement and control purposes. For example, pressure transmitters and controllers may use compressed air to operate and provide feedback on the pressure of a system.

  • What are pneumatic pumps?

    Pneumatic pumps, often referred to as air-operated diaphragm pumps (AODPs) or pneumatic diaphragm pumps, are commonly used at oil and gas well sites for various fluid transfer and pumping applications. These pumps are powered by compressed air and are known for their versatility, reliability, and ability to handle a wide range of fluids, including abrasive and viscous substances.

    Pneumatic pumps consist of a diaphragm, which is a flexible membrane, and inlet/outlet check valves. The pump is driven by compressed air, creating a reciprocating motion of the diaphragm. During the inlet stroke, the diaphragm moves away from the inlet check valve, creating a vacuum that draws fluid into the pump chamber. As the diaphragm moves back towards the check valve, it compresses the fluid in the pump chamber. The outlet check valve opens, allowing the pressurized fluid to be expelled from the pump. Compressed air is supplied to the pump in a controlled manner. The air pressure alternately moves the diaphragm back and forth, creating the pumping action. The pump's design ensures that the fluid is moved in a pulsating manner.

    Pneumatic pumps are positive displacement pumps, meaning they move a fixed volume of fluid with each stroke. This design is beneficial for handling viscous or abrasive fluids and provides consistent flow rates. Pneumatic pumps are commonly used in the oil and gas industry for various tasks, including transferring fluids from wellheads, pumping drilling mud, and handling various liquids encountered during exploration and production processes. Their ability to handle a wide range of substances and their suitability for challenging environments make them valuable tools in well site operations.