Smooth sailing

Smooth sailing

As chemical and related processing technology becomes more complex, the need for safe and efficient support equipment for these operations has become more critical.

With that in mind, global safety products manufacturer Protectoseal has developed Proshield, a unique fluoropolymer-based coating option that – when properly applied to the company’s vapour control products – results in a smooth, nonporous surface with a low coefficient of friction.

This surface condition minimises the retention and attachment of condensed vapours from the stored liquid media. Droplets that form on the coated surface are able to rapidly drain back into the tank before polymerisation can take place.

Laetitia Jansen van Vuuren, product engineer at Energas Technologies (the sole distributor of Proshield in southern Africa), explains that Proshield may be a good option to consider for applications where sticky media and/or the tendency for unwanted build-up may hinder the operation of the vapour control equipment.

A perfect example is styrene monomer storage tanks. Used as a building block in the plastic industry, styrene monomer is a volatile, flammable liquid that, if not inhibited properly, tends to polymerise.

A leading global supplier of resin chemistries for composites and cast polymers was facing operational difficulties due to a rapid and frequent build-up of polymerised styrene in its vapour control equipment.

Weekly inspections and significant maintenance hours were often required to remove the hardened polymer. The maintenance process was time-consuming, often causing unintended damage to the vapour control equipment.

Protectoseal recommended an end-of-line pressure/vacuum conservation vent offered with its Proshield coating option. The trial unit was successfully field-tested for more than 10 months and exhibited little to no build-up during that period.

“The maintenance required for the removal of the hardened styrene is a time-consuming, manual process which, if not executed properly, often results in unintended damage to the vent itself,” explains Jansen van Vuuren. “The overall cost to maintain this equipment under these unfavourable conditions can be a significant concern. With the arrival of the new Proshield, this is a problem of the past.”

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