Today we take a final look at the above graph. We have already looked at Energy and Maintenance costs. Today we look at Operating, Environmental, and Downtime Costs.
When you upgrade pumps with composite materials like Vespel® CR-6100, Boulden B-Series, or Metcar® composites, you eliminate the metal-to-metal contact points in the pump, which essentially eliminates the risk of pump seizure. The pump is far more likely to survive running dry at start-up or during off-design events.
Benefits of Upgrading Pumps With Composite Materials
These are hidden bonuses to upgrading your pumps with composite materials. High quality composite materials act like a safety net in your pump, and sometimes, the savings from this benefit pay for all of the composite upgrades your company will ever do. Consider the following case studies:
Case Study: Condensate Return Pumps
Many years ago, a refinery upgraded the vertical pump shaft bearings in one of their 3 condensate return pumps to Vespel® CR-6100. The other two pumps had their original bronze bearings. The pumps were located in the hot well of a condensing steam turbine. The turbine was driving a critical compressor in one of the refinery process units.
Something happened which changed the pressure in the hot well and the pumps started operating in a vacuum intermittently for 9 hours. The two pumps with bronze bushings seized and had to be removed from service. The pump with Vespel® CR-6100 survived and allowed the process unit to continue operating. An upgrade which cost about $2000 likely saved the refinery millions.
Case Study: Potassium Carbonate Pumps
Plant operators heard a loud noise coming from a hot potassium carbonate pump. They were concerned because if potassium carbonate is released into the atmosphere, it creates a respiratory hazard. They shut down the pump and switched to the spare.
When the pump arrived in the shop, they found a piece of metal had broken from a valve and lodged in the pump impeller. Fortunately, during the previous repair, the maintenance shop had upgraded the pump to Vespel® CR-6100 case rings. During the incident, the pump did not seize, the seals didn’t leak, and a potentially major incident was likely avoided. A $3000 upgrade to the wear rings likely saved hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Case Study: Hydrocracker Charge Pump
Improved efficiency can also translate into increased production. A refinery upgraded their 9-stage hydrocracker charge pump, operating at 6400 rpm to Vespel® CR-6100 wear rings with reduced clearance. This $25,000 upgrade increased unit throughput by 4% creating millions of additional revenue for the refinery over the life of the installation.
Upgrading your pumps to composite materials reduces pump life cycle costs by making your pumps safer, easier to operate, more reliable and more efficient. When unexpected events occur or where you can increase throughput, a single installation can save you millions of dollars.
Take a look at the pumps coming into your workshop. Use the repair as an opportunity to make the pump better by upgrading to composite wear parts. Boulden has the material you need in stock and can deliver raw material or machined parts with very short lead times. Get in touch with us today!
How to re-use the worn wear rings for better performance
Axially split, between bearings multi-stage pumps (API Type BB3) are used for some of the most important services in the hydrocarbon processing industry–charge pumps, boiler feed pumps, and product shipping/pipeline pumps.
The repair of these pumps is a great opportunity to upgrade with Vespel® CR-6100 or Boulden B-Series composite wear rings. In many situations, this will also be the most cost-effective way to rebuild the pump.
Cost of Repair
The reason these pumps offer a great value upgrade is because the case rings in axially split pumps can generally be re-used as holders for composite “inserts” as shown in figure 1.
This method of repair saves the cost of purchasing new case rings, or machining full rings with milled features. All of the work can be done on a lathe at the time of repair. First, you machine the inside bores of the existing case rings, throttle bushing, and center bushing. Then, you make the Vespel® CR-6100 inserts, press them in, and then final machine the parts to reduced clearance. This will increase the Lomakin Effect and efficiency of the pump.
Complete the remaining elements of the overhaul as you normally would. When the pump goes back into service, it should be easier to operate, more efficient, and more reliable.
If you have a BB3 pump coming through your shop for overhaul, consider upgrading to composite wear parts. Boulden can help you engineer the upgrade to Vespel® CR-6100 or Boulden B-Series and the patented Boulden PERF-Seal® design to ensure long-term reliable success. Contact us today. We have the material you need in stock.
Reducing Pump Failure with Carbon Graphite Materials
Last fall, a power plant needed to replace the vertical pump shaft bearings on their cooling water intake pump. They contacted Boulden to find a solution.
The cooling water intake pumps at the plant pump brackish water from the local harbor. The salty water creates corrosion issues, the silt in the water creates abrasion issues. The line shaft bearings are exposed to potentially high loads from the pump at an operating speed of 1500 rpm.
Boulden selected B-1050 for the application due to its excellent dimensional stability, resistance to abrasive wear in dirty water conditions, and high load carrying capability. Unlike most plastic or composite materials used for this application, B-1050 has a coefficient of thermal expansion less than carbon steel. Boulden has found that a coefficient of thermal expansion less than carbon steel is probably the most important material property for the reliable performance and ease of design of a composite bearing or wear ring. For a complete data sheet, contact Boulden today.
Some key properties of B-1050 are shown in Table 1:
Tough, wear resistant shaft bearings from Boulden
Boulden supplied the B-1050 bearings mounted in Duplex Stainless shells. The old bearing spiders were corroded and needed to be re-machined; therefore, the shells were machined to fit after the modification to the spiders. The bearings ran against a 7″ (180 mm) diameter shaft. One line shaft bearing design was 9″ (225 mm) long; the other was 11″ (270 mm) long. The components were manufactured in a few weeks, delivered and installed without issues.
If you are looking for better materials for your vertical shaft bearings, contact Boulden. Consider B-1050 for your cooling water pumps, waste water pumps or other services where you need the ability for the bearings to run in potentially dirty service plus survive off design conditions such as running dry. We have a portfolio of materials with B-Series and Vespel® CR-6100, so whatever your vertical shaft bearing application, we can help.
For consultation on the best material for your application or design assistance, contact Boulden today. We have the material you need in stock and can supply raw material or machined parts with rapid delivery.
Frequently Asked Question:
“Are the OEMs using Vespel® CR-6100?” is a question we hear every month. The answer is definitely, “yes.” All of the major API pump manufacturers use Vespel® CR-6100 for both new pumps and aftermarket upgrades.
A related question: “If Vespel® CR-6100 is so great, why don’t the OEMs include it as a standard material?”
To answer that, we need to look at how pumps are usually purchased…
Most pumps are sold into projects. The EPC contractor generally selects the pump with the lowest price which meets the bid specification. Therefore, if the bid spec allows bronze or cast iron wear rings, the OEM will probably quote bronze or cast iron because they are the cheapest materials. These materials might result in a higher life-cycle cost, but procurement personnel will not care if their decision is driven by the initial price.
Put it in the Bid Spec
If you want to maximize your pump reliability and efficiency, specify Vespel® CR-6100 for the stationary wear components in your next project. When it is part of the specification, the OEMs are happy to quote and supply Vespel® CR-6100.
If your company does not allow using brand names in the project specification, you can use the generic description for Vespel® CR-6100 from API610, Table H.3: PFA/CF reinforced composite, 20% mass fraction random X-Y oriented carbon fiber. For clarity, you can add the note “one example of which is DuPont™ Vespel® CR-6100.”
Direct Questions to Boulden
If there are any questions from the Project Engineer, EPC contractor, or OEM, please ask them to contact Boulden. We will be happy to answer any questions they have and make sure that the Vespel® CR-6100 is used correctly throughout the project.
In short, if you want Vespel® CR-6100 wear rings, vertical pump shaft bearings, or throttle bushings in your new pumps, all you have to do is ask–i.e. spell it out in the bid spec. Until next time, if you need any material for your pumps, we have a wide range of sizes in stock and ready for immediate shipment.
Part 3: Reduce Clearance – Improve Pump Efficiency
Welcome to Part 3 in our series on upgrading pumps with composite wear parts.
In the first part of this series, we discussed how upgrading your pumps with composite wear parts can help avoid galling and seizing. Because composite parts do not gall or seize like metal parts, this allows you to reduce the clearance at these components in your pump.
In Part 2, we discussed how reducing the clearance at the wear rings, throttle bushings, and center-stage bushings creates a stabilizing force in your pump called The Lomakin Effect. This force helps to reduce vibration and shaft deflection, leading to longer seal and bearing life in your pumps.
Today, we will discuss how reducing the clearance in your pump also improves pump efficiency.
Centrifugal Pump Background
According to a major centrifugal pump OEM, energy consumption accounts for 44% of the life cycle cost of a centrifugal pump. You can reduce this cost by upgrading the wear components to a composite material like Vespel® CR-6100 and reducing the clearance in your pump.
The specific components where you want to reduce the clearance are the pump wear rings, inter-stage rings, center-stage bushing, and throttle bushing. These components form the barriers between high-pressure and low-pressure areas within the pump. The differential pressure across these components creates internal recirculation within the pump, resulting in a loss of pump efficiency (Figure 1).
When you upgrade these components to Vespel® CR-6100, you can typically reduce the clearance by 50% compared to the API minimum for metal parts. If you reduce the clearance by 50%, you reduce the internal recirculation by approximately 50%, leading to a significant efficiency gain.
Which Pumps Produce the Biggest Gains?
If we consider only efficiency gains, horizontal multi-stage pumps usually offer the best return on investment from an upgrade to Vespel® CR-6100 with reduced clearance. These pumps have multiple leak paths across wear rings, inter-stage rings, center bushings, and throttle bushings. Because they have many stages, these pumps also tend to consume a lot of power. Consider the following cases where process plants have reduced the operating costs of their multi-stage horizontal pumps:
- A power station upgraded a 3MW boiler feed water pump with Vespel® CR-6100 along with the Boulden PERF-Seal™ design and reduced clearance and recorded a 7% efficiency gain compared to a newly rebuilt pump with original clearances.
- A refinery upgraded their hydrocracker charge pumps with Vespel® CR-6100 along with the Boulden PERF-Seal™ design and reduced clearance and recorded 4% more throughput to their hydrocracker-a hugely profitable upgrade.
- A product pipeline company upgraded their LPG shipping pumps with Vespel® CR-6100 and reduced clearance, resulting in a 4% efficiency gain.
Another area to consider is process pumps which are marginally undersized, requiring parallel pump operation to achieve 100% of the target process rate. Sometimes, a modification as simple as reducing the wear ring clearance can get you back to one-pump operation with a full-capacity spare pump.
To further increase the efficiency gain associated with reduced clearance, the components can be modified with the Boulden PERF-Seal™ design. Internal testing has shown that the PERF-Seal™ creates an additional reduction in flow across throttle bushings, center-stage bushings, and wear rings beyond what can be achieved with reduced clearance alone.
When you eliminate the metal-to-metal contact surfaces in your pumps and use Vespel® CR-6100 stationary wear components, you can then reduce the clearance. This reduction in clearance improves pump efficiency and lowers the operating cost of the pump. Numerous field examples exist where customers have saved tens of thousands of dollars on their annual pump operating costs with this simple upgrade.
If you have a pump where improved efficiency will save you money, contact Boulden today. We have a huge inventory of Vespel® CR-6100 standard sizes in stock ready for immediate shipment almost anywhere in the world.
For application and installation details, download the Boulden Installation Guide for Vespel® CR-6100.
Part 2: Reduce Clearance – The Lomakin Effect
Welcome back to our series on upgrading pumps with composite materials. In part 1, we discussed how using composite materials like Vespel® CR-6100 in your pumps allows you to eliminate the metal-to-metal contact points in the pump and minimize the risk of pump seizure:
- In the shop during assembly
- In the field during alignment
- During slow-roll, start-up, and shut down
- During off-design events like dry-running or low flow
Reducing Clearance – The Lomakin Effect
Minimizing the risk of seizure in your pump sets the stage for reducing the clearance at the wear parts in your pump. Reducing clearance can be a significant pump reliability upgrade due to a phenomenon known as the “Lomakin Effect“.
Your Wear Rings are Bearings
During pump operation, the flow created by differential pressure across the wear parts in the pump (wear rings, throttle bushings) creates a force called The Lomakin Effect. The force arises from an unequal pressure distribution around the circumference of the component during periods of rotor eccentricity. This force counteracts shaft deflection in the pump.
Figure 1 shows how shaft deflection creates this force. As the fluid enters the clearance between the rotor and wear component, it accelerates as it passes from the high pressure end to the low pressure end. Due to the eccentricity of the rotor, there is more clearance on one side of the wear part than the other. There will be more flow and a locally higher velocity on the side of the wear ring with more clearance and lower velocity on the side of the ring with less clearance. Higher velocity results in lower pressure; lower velocity results in higher pressure, creating a net corrective force which acts in the direction opposite of the shaft deflection.
In other words, when your pump experiences shaft deflection, there is a hydraulic “stiffness” (Lomakin Stiffness) which is generated to counteract the shaft deflection.
Using Vespel® CR-6100 you can typically reduce the clearance at the pump wear rings by 50% compared to the API recommended minimum for metal wear parts. The Lomakin Stiffness is inversely proportional to clearance; therefore, a 50% reduction in clearance doubles this force.
Potential benefits for your pumps include:
- Less shaft deflection
- Lower vibration levels
- Fewer mechanical seal leaks
- Longer bearing life
The Lomakin Effect is generally beneficial to all centrifugal pumps, but some pump types often show significant vibration reductions and reliability improvements with reduced clearance:
- Multi-stage horizontal pumps
- Older overhung pumps with long, thin shafts (high L/D ratios)
- Two-stage overhung pumps
Reducing the clearance at the wear components can be a major reliability upgrade for your pumps. The reduced clearance increases The Lomakin Effect which improves pump rotor stability. The net result is a pump which runs with potentially lower vibration, fewer seal leaks, and longer bearing life.
Reducing the clearance also increases pump efficiency, which we will discuss in Part 3.
Until then, if you are working on a pump with a long, thin, flexible rotor, contact Boulden to discuss upgrading the wear parts to Vespel® CR-6100 and reducing the clearance. We have a huge stock of Vespel® CR-6100 standard sizes in the USA, Europe, and Singapore available for immediate delivery to your workshop.
For application and installation details, download the Boulden Installation Guide for Vespel® CR-6100.
A long-term success story
Almost 10 years ago, a refinery in Europe upgraded their Reformer Feed pumps to DuPont™ Vespel® CR-6100. Last month, we checked in to see how the pumps are running.
The Reformer Feed pumps are 10-stage, axially-split, between-bearings pumps (API Type BB3), running at 2950 RPM. The product is naphtha at 185 C (365 F). There is one pump in the service, plus a spare rotor in the warehouse.
Problems in the Past
Marginal suction conditions make this a very tough service. The pumps take suction from a stabilizer tower bottom with NPSHA of only about 3 meters (10 feet). Due to the low NPSHA, it is very easy for the fluid to vaporize in the pump during start-up, causing the pump to run dry. This was formerly the normal reason for repairs due to the metal wear parts galling and seizing. If the metal parts did not seize, the throttle bushing would wear out, causing seal failures at the non-drive end.
Vespel® CR-6100 Survives
In 2009, the first pump in the service was upgraded with Vespel® CR-6100 case wear rings, center bushing, and throttle bushing. By eliminating the metal-to-metal contact points in the pump, the risk of pump seizure was essentially eliminated. Once the original pump upgrade proved successful, the spare rotor was also upgraded, but it has never been installed. The original pump upgraded is still running today. The refinery engineer commented:
We know for sure the product has vaporized in the pump at least 3 times since the upgrade, with seal failures as the only damages. We haven’t exchanged the rotor yet, although we have the spare rotor upgraded in 2010 in the warehouse. So far, no one expects the rotor to be exchanged.
As an added bonus, the site notes that they achieved a significant efficiency increase with the upgrade, which allowed an increase in unit throughput of 10%.
Vespel CR-6100 Conclusion
Where the refinery suffered with multiple failures of metal parts in the past, the Reformer Feed pump has now been running nearly 10 years with Vespel® CR-6100. The upgrade has paid for itself many times over with better reliability, efficiency, and ease of operation.
If you have a service causing you headaches, or if you are looking to increase throughput on one of your feed pumps, contact Boulden today. We have Vespel® CR-6100 in stock in a wide range of sizes in the USA, Europe, and Singapore and we can assist with any application or design questions you have. If you know what you need, just request a quote. Until next time, be safe.
Moselle river between Luxembourg and Germany
If you increase the clearance, the long-term reliability and efficiency of the pump will suffer.
We hope you have had a chance to enjoy your summer holidays. From New Orleans to Narvik, it’s hot out there, so be safe, and wear sunscreen.
In our messages, we frequently highlight how Vespel® CR-6100 does not seize and therefore allows you to reduce the clearance at the wear parts in your pumps: wear rings, inter-stage rings, throttle bushings, and center bushings.
Today we want to look at things from another perspective–negative effects which can happen to your pump when you increase the clearance at the wear parts.
What can happen when you increase clearance?
If a process plant has a problem with a pump seizing during operation or galling during commissioning, the traditional response has been to increase the clearance at the wear parts.
Although increasing the clearance might make the pump operable in the short term, there are several negative consequences from increased clearance.
|Hydraulic Effects||Mechanical Effects|
|Lower head||Reduced rotor stability|
|Lower flow||Potentially higher vibration|
|Lower efficiency–increased power consumption||Potentially higher shaft deflection|
|Higher NPSHR–greater risk of cavitation||Increased risk of shaft breakage|
|Higher motor load||Potentially shorter seal life|
|Need to run steam turbines at higher speed||Potentially shorter bearing life|
|Higher likelihood of needing to run pumps in parallel||Higher risk of motor over-heating or tripping from excessive load|
So, while you don’t want your pumps to seize, increasing the clearance can create some major issues. At a minimum increased clearance drives up the operating cost of the pump and likely compromises the long term reliability of the machine.
The Poster Pump
A while back, one of our clients had an 11-stage horizontal pump which was originally supplied with metal wear components. The pump seized soon after start-up, and the recommendation from the OEM was to increase the clearance. The pump seized again. The second recommendation was to use a “non-galling” metal alloy to address the problem. The pump seized again. The clearance was increased one more time. When the pump was started again, the overall pump vibration levels were beyond alarm limits. The multiple increases in clearance had resulted in a loss of rotor stability to the point that the pump was no longer operable.
The end of the story will be in our next email…
Until next time, if you have a pump in your shop which has galled or seized, contact Boulden to discuss an upgrade to Vespel® CR-6100. We will be happy to work through the details of the upgrade with you and we have material in stock and available for immediate shipment.
Helpful Links for Vespel and Pump Case Studies: