The challenges facing process industries have changed although they continue to pump fluids, some hazardous or toxic. Safety and reliability are still of prime importance. However, operators increase speeds, pressures, flow rates and even the severity of the fluid characteristics (temperature, concentration, viscosity, etc.) while processing many batch operations. For the operators of petroleum refineries, gas processing facilities and petrochemical and chemical plants, safety means controlling and preventing loss of, or exposure to, the pumped fluids. Reliability means pumps that operate efficiently and economically, with less required maintenance.
A properly designed mechanical seal assures a pump operator of long-lasting, safe and reliable pump performance with a proven technology. Among multiple pieces of rotating equipment and a myriad of components, mechanical seals are proven to perform dependably under most types of operating conditions.
It is hard to believe that almost 30 years have passed since the mass promotion of sealless pump technology into the process industry. The new technology was promoted as the solution to all the issues and perceived limitations of mechanical seals. Some suggested that this alternative would eliminate the use of mechanical seals entirely.
However, not long after this promotion, end users learned that mechanical seals could meet or exceed legislated leakage and containment requirements. Further, pump manufacturers supported the technology by providing updated seal chambers to replace the old compression packing “stuffing boxes.”
Today’s seal chambers are designed specifically for mechanical seals, allowing for more robust technology in a cartridge platform, providing easier installation and creating an environment that allows the seals to function to their full potential.
In the mid 1980s, new environmental regulations forced the industry not only to look at containment and emissions, but also at equipment reliability. The average mean time between repair (MTBR) for mechanical seals in a chemical plant was approximately 12 months. Today, the average MTBR is 30 months. Currently, the petroleum industry, subject to some of the most stringent emission levels, has an average MTBR of more than 60 months.
Mechanical seals maintained their reputation by demonstrating the ability to meet and even exceed the requirements of best available control technology (BACT). Further, they did so while remaining an economical and energy efficient technology available to meet emission and environmental regulations.
Computer programs allow seals to be modeled and prototyped prior to manufacturing to confirm how they will handle specific operating conditions before being installed in the field. Seal manufacturing design capabilities and the technology of seal face materials has progressed to the point that they can be developed for a one-to-one fit for a process application.
Today’s computer modeling programs and technology allow the use of 3-D design review, finite element analysis (FEA), computational fluid dynamics (CFD), rigid body analysis and thermal imaging diagnostic programs that were not readily available in the past or were too costly for frequent use with earlier 2-D drafting. These advancements in modeling techniques have added to the design reliability of mechanical seals.
These programs and technologies have led the way to the design of standard cartridge seals with much more robust components. These included the removal of springs and dynamic O-rings from the process fluid and made flexible stator technology the design of choice.
A UK manufacturer of brackets for electrical equipment has changed its 3D printer bushings to Vesconite bearings.
The manufacturer had previously used roller bearings on its two Prusa 3D printers, but had found that roller bearings wore away the printer rods. They also required regular greasing, which limited production uptime and value.
Following some online searching, Triple Link Manufacturing founder Mark Bagnall discovered a reference to Vesconite 3D printer bushings and was attracted by the fact that they were low maintenance and required no greasing.
In addition, he was pleased with
It comes as no surprise that metal corrugated hose is the preferred choice for high-temperature applications. But what about low-temperature applications? This is a question we frequently see from our customers. The simple answer is yes- metal hose is a great option for low-temperature applications. However, there are important factors that should be considered before making a recommendation.
The optimum function of rotary shaft seals depends on many factors. One of them is the "wettability" of the sealing lip. This parameter plays a particularly important role with synthetic lubricants such as polyglycol. If wetting is too low, not only does wear on the sealing lip increase, but the contact with the rotating shaft can also damage the shaft itself. The engineers at Freudenberg Sealing Technologies (FST) and Freudenberg Technology Innovation (FTI) have developed a new coating that forms a flexible bond with the elastomer of the seal and significantly improves wetting with synthetic lubricants.
Thanks to different materials and shapes, radial shaft seals for sealing rotating shafts can be used in a wide variety of industrial applications. What they all have in common is the demand for the lowest possible friction, low
Article re-posted with permission from Parker Hannifin Sealing & Shielding Team.
Original content can be found on Parker’s Website and was written by Fred Fisher, Technical Sales Manager for Parker O-Ring & Engineered Seals Division.
When looking at drawings to define a specific application or elastomer requirement: Is there value in using an ASTM
Springs are an integral part of all sealing systems. A simple air cylinder has O-rings to seal in the air, and the O-ring exhibits spring-like qualities to ensure a good seal over a broad temperature range.
But what are the different types of springs and materials in sealing systems? And how do you choose the best for your application?
Metal springs, such as the Cantilever and Canted Coil spring, are used to energize polymers such as Teflon and ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMW) to allow sealing in a wide range of temperatures. Selecting the correct spring material is critical to the life of the seal.
Measuring an O-Ring is quite simple when you have the right tools at your disposal. All that is required is a clean, level surface; an o-ring; and a measuring device such as a caliper or other measuring tools such as cones, gauges, and size charts.
To measure an O-Ring, following the directions below:
For more information on O-ring sizes click to see the JIS B 2401 Standard O-Ring Size Tables.
Dimensionally specifying an o-ring can typically be done with just
There are many aged and aging process plants in operation today. In fact, many of the processing plants for power, chemicals, oil, etc., have been in service for more than 50 years. And while the piping itself may remain intact, their bolted flange gasket joints and connections are becoming misaligned, corroded and damaged due to repeated handling, chemical exposure and thermal cycling. This can lead to costly ruptures that may result in millions of dollars in damages, downtime, noncompliance penalties, irreparable environmental impact and litigation.
There is a solution that can extend the life of aging piping systems, preserving their functionality: raising the surface profile on polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) gaskets. This design modification can prevent leaks, spills and other releases in chemical processing plants by reducing and managing the contacted area of the gasket, thus achieving and maintaining a strong seal.
Traditionally, gasket thickness and sealability always involved a performance tradeoff. One could use 1/16-inch-thick (1.6 millimeter) gaskets when flanges were in good condition, achieving a tight seal with reduced creep.
However, when the flanges had bad or misaligned surfaces, the seal integrity was degraded.
In those instances when the flanges are in poor condition (or if the shape of the flange condition is unknown), one would choose a 1/8-inch-thick (3.2 mm) gasket. The reason? A user does not want to risk installing a thinner gasket and discover that it does not seal properly, which then requires a timely and costly uninstall and reinstall. However, the thicker gaskets do not seal as well as their 1/16-inch counterparts when placed under comparable load. Additionally, with the thicker gaskets, creep is higher, requiring re-torque.
To address the limitations of both gasket options, the ideal gasket should combine the creep resistance of a 1/16-inch gasket with the compressibility and conformability of a 1/8-inch gasket—easier said than done.
Historically, gaskets have not always been forgiving, easy to use or simple to remove. Yet technology has evolved, allowing sealing products to be engineered and designed to optimize the work that is put into them, delivering a tighter, more durable seal.
The approach is one that does not focus on the gasket thickness but rather its surface profile. The results produce gaskets that reduce leaks, spills and other releases from piping systems, including those of aging chemical plants.
The concept of using surface profiling to reduce area and increase stress is found in many products, such as running shoes and car tires. Reducing the contact area while maintaining a given amount of compressive force results in increased stress. In the case of shoes or tires, this stress provides traction. In the case of gaskets, traction or friction between a gasket and a flange face is critical to holding internal pressure. If the downward force created by the fasteners in a flange is evenly spread over a larger area, the created stress contributes to making a seal more effective. This approach enables the aging piping system to maximize its sealing potential.
Surface profiling positively impacts gasket technology in five key areas: compressibility, pressure resistance, scalability, load retention and dimensional flexibility.
Compressibility is a critical functionality of gaskets, as it represents the ability of the gasket to conform to the surfaces that it seals. Adding raised features to the surface of a gasket directly impacts compressibility by reducing the contact area and increasing the resulting stress.
When flange surfaces are worn, pitted or scratched—such as those in aging piping systems in chemical plants—it can be cost prohibitive and nearly impossible to repair/replace the flange to a “good as new” condition. The more compressible the gasket, the better chance of producing an effective seal with the flanges.