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Case Studies


Pinjarra blow off tanks

Alcoa of Australia's Pinjarra Refinery blow off tank replacement project was awarded by Alcoa in late 2008. The project became necessary mainly because the digestion system was challenged with the demands placed on it by the increased production brought about by the successful completion of the Pinjarra Efficiency Upgrade.

The scope of work included:

  • Replacement and upgrade of the digestion system
  • Replacement of the 10 existing blow off tanks and associated
  • piping with 10 redesigned blow off tanks
  • Replace the two identically sized blow off tanks per digester with a new larger capacity "running" tank with a cyclonic separator and a second smaller "standby" tank
  • Addition of a new common condensate injection system pump which condensate to the top of each blow off tank and high Grade vapour lines
  • Structural modifications to accommodate the new Blow off Tanks including upgrade of all tank supporting steelwork
  • New steel platforms to access piping controls

With safety a priority for Alcoa and AMEC Services, considerations included:

  • Working within a operational plant (Brownfield construction)
  • Working within congested areas
  • Working within confined space
  • Mobile equipment interface
  • Working at heights
  • Significant Lifts (10 of which were over 70T)
  • Pressure vessels and High Pressure piping
  • Isolations—Mechanical and Piping

The other major obstacle to this project was the very tight schedule driven by maintenance windows over 11 months.
The owner-led project was finished in September 2009 on time and under budget which allowed Alcoa to reach its operational objectives of improving safety, reducing wear, increasing operational efficiencies, reliability and the flow of process material through the building. All in all, the successful execution of the Blow off tank upgrade allowed Amec Services to provide Alcoa with a cost benefit solution to the digestion processes through technology upgrade, minimal downtime and at minimal cost.

"The Pinjarra blow off tank project was an extremely challenging major Brownfield’s project which could be described as carrying out heart surgery on the plant while the refinery delivered record production. The project was delivered successfully and exceeded customer expectations on most metrics. The Amec Services Team was an integral part of the team which delivered this success." Ives Blomme - Alcoa Project Manager

"AMEC Services became an integral part of the Alcoa team for the successful installation of the blow off tanks at the Pinjarra Refinery. This project met all agreed milestones under very challenging circumstances and AMEC Services' team approach was an important contributor to this." Paul Joy - Alcoa Procurement Specialist