Valve Packing Friction: the Hidden Factor for Better Plant Performance

In many processes, valves are used as a way to control flow – but they also must seal leakage from the stuffing box and operate freely to keep the plant running properly. Packing success and valve operability need accurate gland loading to perform correctly. Packing friction is a byproduct of tightening packing that needs to be compressed. If left unattended, issues can arise.

On September 9, 2010, a 30-inch diameter natural gas pipeline ruptured in San Bruno, California causing a massive fire that killed eight people. The accident released 47.6 million cubic feet of natural gas and also destroyed 38 homes in the residential area. Many small missteps occurred that resulted in this accident and caused loss of life. One misstep that does not get much attention is packing friction that created problems with control valves.

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