Dangerous chemicals not only have the ability to potentially harm the health of humans and the environment if mishandled, but they are also very expensive to produce. Therefore, achieving safe operation, product containment and cost-effectiveness is of utmost importance.
Specifically, preventing spills or leaks of dangerous chemicals is vital because any that do occur, besides being dangerous on various levels, have the potential to interrupt the production schedule, which not only delays product completion, but can also lead to the loss of high-value materials and the incurrence of prohibitive cleanup costs.
It may seem like a simple solution, but one way to avoid the potential hazard of a product release is to employ equipment specially designed to prevent spills or leaks in these types of applications. This includes the dry disconnect couplings that are used to facilitate the transfer of volatile chemicals from one point of use to another. One multi-point example is the transfer of concentrated sulfuric acid from one manufacturing plant’s product storage tanks to tank trucks, which then transport the product to an end user’s raw material storage tanks for use in their process.
For years, the accepted technology for dry disconnect couplings that would enable the connection of a hose to a storage tank and a transport vehicle has featured a poppet-style design. The sulfuric acid example mentioned above has utilized dry disconnects with poppet-style and double-ball-valve designs. However, the use of poppets can compromise safety and create potential problems for the handler who is looking to ensure the safety of employees and the environment because the shape of the poppets inside the coupler housing creates areas where chemicals can nest. This means that there will always be the possibility that some type of product release could occur when the couplings are disconnected.
Fortunately, there is a better alternative that addresses many of the safety and operational shortcomings that are inherent in poppet-style coupling designs. New couplings utilize a ball valve design instead of poppets. The unique double-ball-valve design of these disconnects allows the convex ball, typically on the coupler end, to seat on the concave ball, typically on the adaptor end, when closed. Operability of the disconnect requires opening of the convex ball on the coupler followed by opening of the concave ball on the adaptor. Only when both ends are opened does fluid flow through the disconnects. This straight-through design allows the liquid to transfer through the adaptor and coupling with no reduction in flow rate. Further, a T-bore design of the balls which has three openings, prevents containment of any hazardous fluid within external cavities of the disconnects that could be exposed to operators and environment. In addition, upon closure of the coupler and adaptor, the face of the balls is self-cleaned within each unit. As the balls rotate against the internal surface of the seals, product is wiped off the face of the balls. In addition, accidental opening of the units when disconnected and connected is preventable through the use of five independent and redundant mechanical interlocks that require deliberate sequential action by the user, thereby eliminating unintentional product releases.
A leader in the development of double-ball-valve dry disconnect technology has been OPW Engineered Systems. Specifically, it has developed the Epsilon Dry Disconnect Coupling, which delivers the lowest product loss in the industry. For more on OPW Engineered Systems couplings, and for any fluid transfer questions, contact Product Manager Mohammad Noful at firstname.lastname@example.org.