KLINGER Innovation

Navigating fluid dynamics

In the realm of fluid handling, each industry faces its unique set of challenges. Delve into the specialized needs and learn about the critical role of valves and gaskets in maintaining operational integrity, safety, and sustainability.

Advancements in valves, gaskets and level gauges contribute to operational efficiency, safety, and environmental sustainability. By ensuring precise control and sealing capabilities, these components are crucial in managing the flow and containment of fluids and media, underscoring their importance in the functionality and reliability of fluidic systems.

This blog post focuses on key industries at ACHEMA, such as chemicals, district heating, hydrogen, geothermal energy and services, each of which faces unique challenges.

Chemical industry

In the chemical industry the battle against corrosion and chemical reactivity is paramount. Materials such as stainless steel and PTFE are invaluable for their resistance, ensuring durability and safety in processes teeming with aggressive substances. Key challenges are ever-present, including stricter environmental regulations, rising energy and raw material costs, and the need to handle demanding media and safety-critical applications. Customer- and process-specific components help improve plant efficiency and environmental compliance.

  • High temperature and pressure resistance: Industrial valves and gaskets must be able to withstand the high temperatures and pressures often found in these industries. Valves and seals engineered for high-pressure environments are critical to maintaining system integrity.
  • Corrosion resistance: When dealing with aggressive and corrosive chemicals, materials are required that can withstand chemical attack and even decomposition. For example, stainless steels, Hastelloy, and PTFE are suitable due to their chemical and corrosion resistance.
  • Leakage prevention and safety: Ensuring operational safety, especially in the chemical and hydrogen industries, requires the use of reliable sealing technologies and materials that minimize the risk of leaks that could lead to dangerous situations.
  • Material compatibility: Selecting materials that are compatible with the substances they come into contact with is essential to prevent unplanned chemical reactions that could compromise the integrity of the system.
  • Compliance with applicable industry standards: Compliance with design standards and regulations, such as EN and ASME, ensures that equipment meets safety, reliability and environmental protection requirements.
  • Fugitive emissions: To prevent fugitive emissions and to protect people and the environment, the chemical industry requires equipment that is certified according to ISO 15848-1 and TA-LUFT emission standards.

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As hydrogen applications expand beyond industrial settings into consumer uses, such as vehicle fueling, there's a growing need for safe handling practices and technologies. The industry emphasizes the need for materials that can handle its small molecular size and high explosiveness, particularly in high-pressure storage and transport scenarios. Several materials available on the market have been tested and show a high level of sealing for this technology - reducing the CO2 footprint in many production processes. It is critical to select high quality gaskets and valves that ensure plant operators can safely design plants. Relevant gaskets should meet or exceed the German Clean Air Act (TA-Luft) level, as the TA Luft standard has been revised and now follows the international ISO 15848-1 “Fugitive Emissions”.

  • Safety challenges: Safety concerns include physiological hazards (such as frostbite due to physical contact to cryogenic parts and suffocation due to a lack of oxygen), chemical hazards (such as burns or explosions), and physical hazards (including embrittlement and component failure). High pressure storage requirements pose significant design and safety challenges.
  • Material selection: The interaction of hydrogen with materials, particularly metals, can lead to hydrogen-assisted fracture. This requires careful material selection, taking into account factors such as loading mode, hydrogen pressure, temperature, and material strength. Hydrogen embrittlement, a well-known problem, can result from hydrogen atoms diffusing into metals, potentially leading to catastrophic failure. Material guidelines suggest favoring austenitic stainless steels, aluminum alloys, and copper alloys, and exercising caution with nickel and titanium alloys.
  • Temperature influence: For hydrogen storage, especially in liquid form, the effect of temperature on material properties is critical. Certain stainless steels used in hydrogen storage remain ductility at cryogenic temperatures, which is essential to ensure the integrity of storage systems.

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Geothermal energy

The focus is shifting to the earth's natural heat and mineral-rich fluids. The use of geothermal water as a CO2-neutral energy source for power generation and district heating applications has increased enormously in recent decades, also due to global warming - and the trend is still rising. Geothermal water contains high levels of thermal energy and a wide variety of substances, including oil, minerals, solids, and most importantly, lime and silica.

  • Temperature and mineral content: Geothermal fluids can range from 100°C to 370°C (212 °F to 698 °F) and can contain minerals such as silica and lime, which can cause scaling and affect valve performance. It's critical to select valves that can withstand high temperatures and resist scaling to maintain efficiency and prevent damage.
  • Pressure fluctuations: Geothermal systems experience variable pressures that can put a strain on valves. Ensuring that valves can withstand these pressures without significant loss is pivotal to maintaining system integrity and efficiency.
  • Silica scaling: One of the biggest challenges in geothermal systems is managing silica scaling, which can lead to valve leakage and failure. Selecting valves that can withstand the presence of silica and other contaminants is critical.
  • Material selection: Due to the corrosive nature of geothermal fluids, materials that are resistant to corrosion and scaling are preferred. This includes consideration of the valve material and the gaskets used within the system. Various minerals can cause crystallization of the medium and thus, blockage of the piping. The challenge for the material of valves is to minimize this crystallization effect, and at the same time resist solids.
  • Maintenance and reliability: Given the conditions of geothermal operations, selecting durable valves that require minimal maintenance can have a significant impact on the availability and reliability of geothermal power plants.
  • Emerging technologies: The geothermal industry is also exploring closed-loop systems that circulate a heat transfer fluid through engineered pipe systems instead of underground rock, which presents a different set of challenges and opportunities for valve and instrumentation design.
  • Supercritical resources: Efforts to develop supercritical or superhot geothermal resources present new challenges in terms of exploration, characterization, and technology requirements to handle extreme conditions.

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District Heating

District heating networks struggle to maintain a consistent supply of heat across vast urban landscapes. Key district heating challenges include balancing supply and demand, integrating renewable energy sources, managing infrastructure costs, ensuring system efficiency, and maintaining and upgrading aging infrastructure. All while preventing leakage.

  • Temperature fluctuations, which can lead to material stress and potential failure.
  • Pressure variations requiring robust design to prevent leakage and ensure safety.
  • Chemical compatibility, especially in systems using additives or treated water to prevent corrosion.
  • Thermal expansion and contraction, requiring the use of expansion joints and flexible materials to accommodate movement.
  • Wear and tear from continuous operation, which affects longevity and reliability.
  • Scalability and adaptability for system upgrades or expansion, ensuring that components can be integrated or replaced with minimal disruption.

Plant operators are concerned about high tensile, compressive and torsional forces under the influence of heat and impurities (solids) in the system caused by old pipeline infrastructure. In order to increase operational safety, the requirements for shut-off valves in district heating applications are constantly increasing. Therefore, the use of special valves with particularly rigid and deformation-free cast bodies, reliable sealing systems, trunnion mounted balls and full-bore designs is mandatory. EN 488:2019 defines the technical requirements and test methods for shut-off valves directly buried in district heating networks to ensure that the valves remain functional over time.

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For industries reliant on periodic shutdowns and turnarounds, such as refineries or power plants, the focus is on minimizing downtime and ensuring fast, safe maintenance operations, where reliable sealing and fluid control systems are paramount.

Significant challenges due to:

  • The critical financial impact and complexity of shutdowns and turnarounds.
  • Pressure of tight deadlines, limited resources, and maintaining quality.
  • Compliance with evolving safety and environmental regulations.

Effective maintenance:

  • Implementing flange management ensures the integrity of flange connections.
  • Utilizing DIN EN 1591-4 qualified personnel to oversee flange operations and provide expert advice.
  • Full documentation of the process is essential.

Training programs to improve plant safety focus primarily on assembly training to select appropriate sealing materials and demonstrate proper assembly techniques. Additionally, engineering courses deepen the understanding of sealing technology and calculations.

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We keep things flowing

As we look forward to ACHEMA 2024, KLINGER stands at the forefront of addressing these diverse industry challenges. Positioned in hall 8.0, booth B4, KLINGER Group will showcase innovative solutions tailored to meet the demanding requirements of these sectors, promising a future where fluid dynamics are not just managed but mastered. We keep things flowing.

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