Category Archives: Pump & Valve Packings Blog

Compensating for Oxygen Concentration

The air we breathe contains by volume 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and approximately 1% argon. Oxygen concentrations as high as 23% are considered acceptable by OSHA. However, in many areas of industry and medicine where technical or high-purity oxygen is used, oxygen concentrations can exceed 23% and create what is known as “flammable atmosphere,” leading to serious accidents and the inability for workers to self-rescue from hazardous situations when proper care is not taken.

Oxygen is non-flammable, but it is a fire promoter and can accelerate combustion and thus is a hazardous substance. Ignition may be caused by sparking, welding or using electric tools when concentrations rise above 23%. Materials of construction, education and testing go far to prevent these hazards in industrial settings.

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Factors for Successful Emissions-Compliant Valve Stem Seals

Valve seal performance is an important issue with today’s restrictions on emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from valves. Refineries and chemical processing plants, valve manufacturers, seal manufacturers, valve repair companies and outage service companies have a vested interest in ensuring that valves operate within emissions-compliance levels. Careful treatment from each of these parties is required to deliver successful, emissions-compliant valve performance.

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Back to Basics: Compression Packing

You have probably heard the old saying, “If you don’t have time to do it right, then you’ll need to make time to do it over.” Understanding basic compression packing installation steps is key to getting the job done right the first time.

The goal of this article is to provide an overview of the critical steps necessary to ensure outstanding packing performance.

The first step is to remember the “5 Ps of Packing Installation.”

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Birth of the General-Purpose, High-Performance ePTFE/Graphite Packing Fiber

A great innovation in compression packing was the development of a new material class by Ritchie Snyder of W.L. Gore & Associates in 1981. He envisioned a single material that would allow for broad standardization across a wide
range of applications. It would deliver the chemical compatibility of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and graphite, with the mechanical strength of the then newly expanded PTFE material (ePTFE).

Over the next 35 years, many pulp and paper, chemical, mining and power companies have standardized their plants with this new material class of ePTFE/graphite packing fiber.

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The Curse of Knowledge & Valve Packing

In 1996, Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory’s Advanced Test Nuclear Reactor operators manually shut down the reactor after noticing pressure oscillations. A control valve, which was sluggish in responding to input from the pressure control system, caused the fluctuations.

A root-cause investigation revealed that mechanics had adjusted the valve packing gland according to the vendor technical manual during the outage, tightening it because it had a visible leak. The action resulted in higher friction on the valve stem, which caused the valve’s sluggish response.

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Valve Stem Packing Compression & Installation

With today’s mandate for reduced fugitive emissions and improved air quality in industrial valves, proper installation of stem packing has become critical. But the importance of effective sealing by packing in the stuffing box goes beyond volatile operations where leakage can be hazardous It also applies to applications such as steam and low-temperature inert services. Stem packing leakage in non-fugitive emissions applications can be expensive because of product loss and a reduction of operating efficiency. It all comes down to proper installation with precisely the right material.

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Emissions Valve Packing Technology Evolves to Reduce Methane Leaks

Methane (CH4) is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emitted in the US. In 2013, CH4 accounted for about 10 percent of all US greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. Methane’s half-life in the atmosphere is much shorter than that of carbon dioxide (CO2); however, it is significantly more efficient at trapping radiation. Pound for pound, the comparative impact of CH4 on climate change is 25 times greater than that of CO2 during a 100-year period.

One area responsible for contributing to the increase in CH4 is leaking equipment in the oil and gas sector.  A major contributor to this leakage is valves that leak CH4 and sub-derivatives called volatile organic compounds (VOC) from the gland.

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How to Avoid Compression Packing Failure

Waiting to replace packing in centrifugal pump service can lead to downtime and safety issues.

Compression packing has been around since the beginning of the industrial revolution and is still used extensively in types of equipment in which a stuffing box seal is required to prevent loss of process fluids to the environment. While advanced sealing solutions for rotary applications, such as mechanical seals, emerged over time, compression remains an important industrial tool.

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Updates to Industry Standards Offer New Options for Fugitive Emissions Testing

Standards groups in the U.S. and abroad have been actively advocating for compression packing used in valve stem sealing. Some of other more relevant provisions and changes are outlined in this article.

The working group (WG 10) for International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) ISO/TC 153/SC 1, which covers industrial valves – including design, materials, manufacturing, testing and inspection – has been working on the second edition of ISO 15848-1.  The second edition has reportedly been approved and is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2015.

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Preformed Packing Rings Outperform Field-Cut Parts

One of the oldest sealing devices, compression packing is still very common in modern industries such as oil and gas, petrochemical, agriculture, pulp and paper, power generation, and mining. Compression packing is made from a range of soft and pliable fibrous yarn materials – from vegetable and animal fiber to many high-performance synthetic fibers. Most compression packing is formed by braiding fibrous materials such as carbon, PTFE, graphite, aramid and acrylic yarns. Each braid structure – round, square or braid over braid – is unique and intended for specific performance.

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