Every two years since 1964, Chemical Processing has bestowed Vaaler Awards on products and services that can significantly improve plant operations and economics. To be eligible for this year's awards, a product or service must have been commercialized in the United States between May 2011 and June 2013.
The awards are named in honor of John C. Vaaler, editor in chief of Chemical Processing from 1946 to 1961, and chairman of the magazine's editorial board from 1961 until his death in 1963.
Chemical Processing's Editorial Board, which consists of technical professionals with diverse responsibilities and from a variety of industry sectors (see sidebar), evaluated 18 entries in 9 categories for technical significance, novelty or uniqueness, and breadth of applicability. This impartial panel didn't have to bestow any awards — but chose to honor five products:
• Qdos30 metering pump from Watson-Marlow;
• Elite CMFS Coriolis flow meter from Micro Motion;
• Tigerflex Voltbuster hose from Kuriyama of America;
• Process Innovator from Epcon International; and
• EnviroSol 531 chemical cleaning process from Perigee Solutions.
Metering Pump Combines Better Performance with Less Maintenance
The Watson-Marlow Qdos 30 peristaltic pump, which was launched in June 2013, provides accurate, linear and repeatable metering under varying process conditions. The no-valve pump doesn't need recalibration because of changes in pressure, solids' content or viscosity. It will continue to pump even when a feed chemical is subject to off-gassing. Unlike traditional diaphragm metering pumps, for which it is a drop-in replacement, the Qdos 30 doesn't require ancillaries such as backpressure valves, degassing valves, pulsation dampener, foot valves and strainers. It can maintain accuracy and repeatability for up to six months without maintenance.
The Qdos 30 pump features the patented ReNu pump head, which is a fully contained tube-and-rotor assembly that can be replaced without tools and without risk of exposing operators to fluids. In addition, the pump head has an integral optical sensor to detect leaks in the fluid path.
The Qdos 30 pump can provide flow rates from 0.001 to 8 gal/h (0.1 to 500 mL/min) at 100 psi (7 bar). The unit includes a 3.5-inch full-color display that gives instant pump status, and is configurable to provide a wide variety of information, including percentage of chemical pumped from a discrete source and the amount remaining. The pump comes with various control options, including remote control for process security. The unit is NEMA 4X rated for washdown environments.
Coriolis Flow Meter Excels For Smaller Line Sizes
The Micro Motion Elite CMFS sensor platform, which was introduced in May 2013, precisely measures mass and volume flow as well as density in lines less than 2 inches in diameter or DN50, and is immune to process, mounting and environmental effects. The scalable platform features a compact, lightweight and fully drainable design that provides unmatched performance in critical and demanding applications, including batching, blending and feedstock control. The robust Coriolis flow meter affords accurate measurements even in challenging fluid conditions, such as changing densities, pressures, temperatures or viscosities. The meter also provides reliable and repeatable measurements in transient two-phase flow conditions. It maintains its specified performance over a 30:1 turndown ratio. Use of the meter can eliminate the need for complex inferred mass calculations.
The Elite CMFS line includes nine distinct sensor sizes in three compact footprints, from 1-mm to 50-mm nominal-diameter line sizes (1/12 in. to 2 in.). The meter delivers ±0.05% accuracy for liquid mass and volume flow, ±0.0002 g/cc liquid density accuracy and world-leading ±0.25% gas accuracy for flow rates of 0.04 lb/min to 1,980 lb/min (1 kg/h to 54,000 kg/h). It can handle temperatures from -400°F to 400°F (-240°C to 204°C), and pressures up to 6,000 psi (413 bar). It is suitable for hygienic, cryogenic and high-pressure applications. Micro Motion's Smart Meter Verification technology enables in-situ verification without tools or process shutdown. Integration with control systems is simple thanks to scalable transmitter platforms and flexible I/O connectivity.
Thermoplastic Hose Stops Static Discharges
The Kuriyama Tigerflex Voltbuster, which became available in October 2011, is the only heavy-walled thermoplastic hose that safely dissipates static charge in extremely high static material-transfer applications — and solves the widespread problem of "hose arcing." Its charge decay time constant is less than one second, which eliminates the risk of such discharges. The hose provides a lightweight and flexible alternative to metal and carbon-black-filled rubber hoses. It lasts longer than rubber and polyvinyl chloride hoses and is quieter than metal ones.
Suitable for powders, pellets or other granular materials, Tigerflex Voltbuster is constructed of extra-thick single-ply food-grade polyurethane with an external grounding wire. The thermoplastic is transparent and resists abrasion as well as most animal- and petroleum-based oils. It remains flexible at sub-zero temperatures, won't contaminate material being transferred and enables visual confirmation of flow. The hose tube meets U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirements, Not only is the polyurethane food grade but also the grounding wire is embedded in a helix on the outside of the tube to prevent contamination of material being transferred. That rigid external helix also protects the hose from wear and enables it to slide easily over rough surfaces.
Tigerflex Voltbuster hoses come in nominal sizes of 2-in. to 8-in. inner diameter, or 3-in. to 6-in. reinforced with high-tensile-strength food-grade polyester yarn. The fabric-reinforced hose can handle both suction and higher-pressure discharge applications. The hose's service temperature range is from -40°F (-40°C) to 150°F (65°C). Pressure ratings vary depending on size.
Software Gives Insights on Complex Piping Systems
Epcon International's Process Innovator, which debuted commercially in June 2013, models, simulates and analyzes pipe distribution systems. It can identify and correct root-cause problems in steam, condensate, cooling water, compressed air, fuel and process systems. It provides an effective way to assess complex systems, including ones that haven't been modeled in detail since plant startup, and can lead to significant cost savings. The software also can contribute to more accurate scoping of utility systems for prospective plant expansions.
Process Innovator can create a process flow diagram (PFD), size process equipment and accurately simulate flows and pressure drops throughout a process or utility system. It can be used to confirm proper design and operation of equipment including pumps, compressors, blowers, heat exchangers, control valves and flow meters. The computational engine is extremely fast for solving plant-wide complex piping distribution systems.
The software can quickly generate diagrams of a process or utility system in PFD format. Once the PFD is completed and equipment and piping specifications are entered, a user can select "Simulate" to calculate flows and pressures throughout the entire system. This only takes seconds even for a flow model with hundreds of pipes. Selecting "Analyze" will show how equipment and piping conform to design specifications.
Process Innovator powers Epcon International's flow simulation and process engineering software products, Engineer's Aide SiNET and ChemPro Engineering Suite.
Cleaning Process Effectively Eliminates Polymeric Deposits
Perigee Solution's EnviroSol 531, which premiered in February 2013, is a non-hazardous high-boiling low-vapor-pressure chemical that can remove fouling caused by many types of polymers. The cleaning process, which uses no water, is safer, faster and more environmentally friendly than alternatives, such as acidizing or hydro-blasting. It doesn't require vessel entry or taking equipment apart. Moreover, the process is suitable for all metallurgy and doesn't generate significant waste.
Conventional techniques to remove polymer buildups often involve sending workers into confined spaced to use chainsaws or high-pressure hydro-blasting equipment, and thus pose risks of injury to personnel. In contrast, the Perigee process circulates EnviroSol 531 in the equipment. It can decrease cleaning turnaround time by up to 30%.
It's the only process that can effectively clean diamond-pitch-tube-layout heat exchangers. EnviroSol 531 can remove buildups on other process equipment, including some vessels, as well as piping. The plant gets the recovered polymer to sell as scrap or dispose of, as appropriate.
Perigee brings a skid containing the cleaning system to a site and operates the process, which involves circulating EnviroSol 531 in process equipment and piping fouled with polymeric buildup.
The technology already has successfully cleaned a variety of process equipment, including a polycaprolactam oligomer cracking reactor, a polypropylene reactor, a polymer flare knockout drum, and the jacket of a very-high-pressure low-density polyethylene reactor. EnviroSol 531 also has removed polymeric fouling from ethylene and related process equipment.
Vic Edwards, process safety consultant, Houston
Tim Frank, associate R&D director, Dow Chemical, Midland, Mich.
Ben Paterson, senior engineering advisor, Eli Lilly, Indianapolis
Roy Sanders, process safety consultant, Lake Charles, La.
Ellen Turner, tech service and application development rep, Eastman Chemical, Kingsport, Tenn.
Ben Weinstein, section head, chemical systems modeling and simulation, Procter & Gamble, West Chester, Ohio
Jon Worstell, consultant, Houston
Sheila Yang, principal engineer, Genentech, South San Francisco, Calif.