Digital Transformation and Quantum-DX for EPC

by Christopher Papile, Ph.D., CEO, BraneCell, LLC

Renewable Chemical Plants will Benefit from DX

Seems time to talk about one of the elephants in the room: the 10 Trillion USD (growing 15.5 Trillion USD according to PwC by 2030) Engineering-Procurement-Construction-Maintenance industry and the digitization thereof. BraneCell’s team has capabilities to serve this industry in the renewable chemical, petrochemical, O&G, energy sectors, and city infrastructure; so some things we must keep commercial secret, but some must be said.

It is no secret that the EPC industry lags behind-the-times in digital transformation (DX), still goes about corporate culture in a not-so-modern way, yet could greatly benefit by joining the 21st Century. There are, of course, pioneering exceptions, including Atkins use of BIM and VR [1], ThyssenKrupps’ virtual warehouse, Japanese and SoftBank Vision Fund’s Billion USD investments [2], etc… Various USA EPC players, such as Bechtel, [3], who made a decision to bring the data analytics capability in-house via BDAC show that they believe in the cost/benefit. (They made the decision to bring certain engineering capability in-house previously and it worked well for them in case of cryogenic tank technology; so that helps.) But it’s known this industry is generally over-ripe for IT disruption [4].

For our part, we are helping Proton Ventures provide renewable ammonia plants, better and more economical. We are also working with Allegheny Science & Technology with distributed renewable chemical plant technology. BraneCell is developing a decentralized quantum processing device that will be key to facilitating many benefits for on-site applications; one of the several examples includes digital twin based cyber security [5]. Now that the USA National Quantum Initiative (#NQI) is here, we expect to see an acceleration of development.

The stakes are important to note: think of all we use in our daily life, polycarbonate, 2-Ethylhexanol, methanol, ammonia to name a few multi-million kiloton/yr products that provide value and jobs. Ammonia is being intensely examined as the future of fuels: a fuel that produces no carbon and no pollution at all, when converted to power (by FC or IC), if we make it from solar, wind, geothermal, etc…Proton Ventures, MAN Energy Solutions, and others are leading on this matter. The economic benefit, when we get DX-4-EPC [TM] still surpasses most industries, for example, Jubail City, KSA added 50 Billion in revenue, 40,000 jobs [6] and 160 Billion in assets after a decade of EPC projects, or KBR’s massive multi-Billion crude oil to chemicals (COTC) project will support the diversification [*] of the KSA economy, helping 33 Million people and the whole region. Thus engineering procurement, construction and maintenance, remain a bedrock to society, and can be made safer and more economical through DX (along with chemistry and engineering advancements).

“Ammonia is being intensely investigated as the future of fuels…a fuel that produces no carbon and no pollution, when converted to power (by FC or IC), if we make it from solar, wind, geothermal, etc…DX-4-EPC [TM] is part of the solution, making processes more efficient, profitable and safer.” C. Papile, Ph.D.

EPC is nearly the most physical-world, heavy industry, anchored by its own weight of traditional business, while the digital world, IoT, Big Data, A.I. quantum computing, equipment automation and intra-equipment-communication (linking heterogeneous machines to one IT system) is moving extremely fast into the future, rather forming the future. How shall an elephant keep up? To be clear we love this industry and the dedicated engineers designing chemical plants. BraneCell knows both DX and EPC, so we need to be a voice.

We talked about decentralized chemical plants in Riyadh recently at the KSA PMI Symposium. Digital Transformation and quantum-DX provides advantages in the traditional EPC process and enable totally new ways of doing work. For example, (i) one can number-up 10 medium renewable chemical plants (instead of building one mega) in-order-to be near excellent, far-afield solar power sources, instead of traditional mega plant locations, and mitigate down-time risk (“1 down 9 still operating”); (ii) put the plants near the need for the chemical to avoid shipment cost, duty cost, shipment risk; (iii) automated pre-fabrication of skid-mounted and container-based renewable chemical plant modules (Proton Ventures BV and many others are going this way), all catalyzed by digital transformation technologies and quantum-computing-based DX.

A series of articles will be needed to get into this. The articles should first cover how classical computing DX and benefit traditional concerns, including Conceptual Design, FEED studies, project management, change orders, warehouse and logistics, data security, training, safety, monitoring, optimization, start-up and predictive maintenance, then look at the ways quantum computing, quantum communications and quantum cryptography and quantum sensors augment and intensify the benefits. By the way, we are speaking at the IQT Conference [7] in Boston in March on EPC and chemical themes; see you there.

Come join us at BraneCell !

[1] https://www.atkinsglobal.com/en-gb/media-centre/features/transforming-engineering-design

[2] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-24/softbank-leads-865-million-investment-in-construction-tech-startup-katerra

[3] https://www.bechtel.com/getmedia/0f83daae-baa4-4124-b84b-bdea6c861bfc/bechtel-report-2018-final.pdf?ext=.pdf

[4] See TATA Consulting Report

[5] https://www.genewsroom.com/press-releases/ge-global-research-awarded-126-million-us-department-energy-develop-quantum-level

[TM] Trademark

[6] See the SABIC 2 December 2015 Report

[7] https://twitter.com/BraneCell/status/1090323369432629255

[*] Special thanks to Saeed Alrasheed, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Majmaah University for his insightful discussions on these topics.