- Are you utilizing high pressures in your applications (> 1500 psig)?
- Have you had issues with down time due to clogged valves?
- Does your process utilize a gas that acts as a super-critical fluid?
In this series, we’re discussing the flow control challenges faced by users of abrasive or aggressive fluids. The first post described several applications for these challenging fluids, and briefly introduced a couple of concerns encountered by these users. In this post, we’ll review these concerns in more detail and summarize a few flow control options available for these difficult applications.
Material compatibility is a major concern when measuring the flow of aggressive fluids like acids. There are several alternatives to ensure the wetted materials in process instrumentation ‘get along with’ the process fluid. Some options include: the use of high-alloy or exotic metals like Hastelloy C, applying a chemically-resistant lining to the wetted flow path , or even using instruments constructed entirely out of chemically-resistant plastics. In addition to the instruments that provide a way to measure flow, instruments that provide a control function (like valves) should also be specified with appropriate consideration for material compatibility.
Here at Brooks, it’s very common for us to work with customers that use our technology in applications that aren’t widely known to the general public. In this series we’ll talk about another of these applications: flow control for abrasive and aggressive fluids. Even though the general public may not know the role that abrasive fluid flow control plays in their daily lives, applications that require this type of flow control are all around us. Many products require this type of control during their manufacturing process, and it is also used in a range of environmental applications like odor control, municipal water treatment, or pH adjustment.
There are a range of applications where reliable abrasive or aggressive fluid flow control is critical, here are a few examples:
Printing Inks: Inks used in printers that we use everyday are made from a range of fluids with different properties. Many color inks contain solvents made from aggressive petroleum distillates, and can also use dissolved titanium dioxide to control color. There are also other fluids that get mixed into these inks like: lubricants that extend the life of the printer heads, waxes that extend the life of the ink on the page, and drying agents that help the ink dry quickly onto new documents.
Slurries: A slurry is made when particles of a solid are suspended in a liquid solution. A common use for slurries is to control the flow of ‘gritty’ solid particles in the slurry across an item to polish the item’s surface, which is a critical step in manufacturing products like processors used in computers and cell phones, or solar panels. In another case, a slurry fills a mold and is turned into a brake pad after it is compressed and dried. Flow control of slurries made from suspended lime are also critical in a range of municipal, environmental, and industrial processes that treat a hazardous compound before disposal.
Metal Pickling: Pickling is a surface treatment process performed on a range of metals to remove impurities or undesirable layers on the surface of the metal. Submerging a metal part into one or more acid baths is commonly used to remove contaminants, rust, or scale to extend the life of metal parts. Pickling can also remove the oxidation layer from copper so it retains its’ color over time; this process is commonly used when making copper jewelry.
What other applications are out there for abrasive or aggressive fluids? We’d love to hear more about your applications in the comments.
As you can tell by the descriptions of these fluids, there are several challenges that users of aggressive or abrasive fluids have to overcome to be successful. Users of these fluids have to ensure that the materials of construction in the equipment and instrumentation they choose for flow control is chemically compatible with these aggressive fluids. Dissolved or suspended solids in a liquid stream can agglomerate (clump) and prevent the system from operating, so users should consider those impacts in their designs for such fluids.
We’ll discuss the range of flow control options available to users of these fluids in our next post.
If you’d like to read a bit more about instrumentation and process control, feel free to check out more of my contributions summarized on my Google Plus profile.
I’m personally very excited to present to everyone our brand new Brooks Instrument product guide. Updated with all of our latest and greatest products like the GF40/80 mass flow meter / mass flow controller, XacTorr vacuum capacitance manometer, SolidSense II pressure transducer/transmitter, pressure gauges, LF200 ultrasonic liquid flow controller, and more. I won’t bore you with a long blog post about this product guide, just download it and check it out instead!
The first attempts to replace the horse as the primary mode of transportation involved burning wood to create steam to drive a steam engine. If the new crop of biotechnology and renewable energy companies realize their dreams we will once again be fueling our transportation and even using chemicals created from wood cellulose and other plants. Genetic engineering which has been the catalyst in the revolution of drug and food development is now being used to tackle our need for renewable fuels. I had experience, while still a student in the late 1970s, on the potential of enzymes to breakdown cellulose into sugar the basic building block for chemicals. I even had dreams of creating a cellulose driven economy but with oil costing only $20/bbl, I soon realized it would be difficult to compete. The catalyst driving the current group of bio energy hopefuls is the need to find renewable fuels which are better for the environment. Three conversion technologies are actively being funded. Read more…
As a vendor exhibiting at Intersolar you get to see the show from a little different perspective than the average show visitor. Through your interaction with numerous customers visiting your booth you start to get a sense of the mood of the attendees and the opportunities that exist in the solar industries.
My first observation is that I was glad Brooks Instrument participated in the Intersolar portion of the combined Semicon/Intersolar show. From a facilities perspective, the two venues for the shows almost reflected the state of the two industries. Intersolar is located in Moscone West, a new exhibit hall which features large windows that let in the sun and generates a positive atmosphere on the show floor. The solar industry is the future and these facilities reflect that optimism.
I am proud to be leading the Brooks team at the upcoming Intersolar North America in sunny, beautiful San Francisco. I recently attended Intersolar in Munich and was impressed with how that show has grown to almost fill the huge new Messe in Munich. The halls were crammed with people even on a hot day for Germany, the Thursday session. Intersolar North America appears to be on the same growth trajectory.
Our decision at Brooks to participate in Intersolar NA is a reflection on how great the show was last year and the maturation of the photovoltaic industry. For many of the photovoltaic suppliers, their business models have gone from product development, market acceptance to that of an on-going business that needs to increase productivity using existing capital and continually reduce costs. This is the perfect environment for Brooks material handling products which have been proven in industrial and process industries for decades. Brooks prides itself on developing products that are designed for long term, stable operation which is what is required now for low cost photovoltaic production.