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!
Tools to help you improve your pump operability, reliability, and efficiency
Our favorite material recently passed a milestone. The first pump ever fitted with Vespel® CR-6100 was upgraded 20+ years ago in November 1997.
The first pump was a vertically suspended condensate pump at a refinery in California. The pump was notorious for running dry, and it had failed once or twice per year for as long as the maintenance records went back. An engineer at the refinery “found” Vespel® CR-6100 and decided to put it to the test on the condensate pump. The pump survived repeated episodes of running dry and subsequently ran for many years without failure.
Since then, over 10,000 pumps across the globe have been upgraded with Vespel® CR-6100.
When you are using Vespel® CR-6100 in your shop, or if you are recommending your favorite repair shop to perform the upgrade for you, the following links should prove helpful:
Part 1: Minimize the Risk of Pump Seizure
Welcome to our series on upgrading pumps with composite materials. Over the next few months, we’ll cover the basics of why and how to use composite materials, specifically DuPont™ Vespel® CR-6100, to make your pumps more reliable, efficient, and safe.
Metal Parts Seize
Centrifugal pumps contain contact points between rotating and stationary parts. Most designs use replaceable wear components at these contact points: wear rings, inter-stage rings, throttle bushings, center-stage bushings, vertical pump shaft bearings, throat bushings. In the past, both the rotating and stationary parts would typically be metal.
With metal rotating and stationary components, there is a risk of galling or pump seizure. Galling can cause your pump to stick during assembly in the workshop, during alignment, or when the pump is slow-rolling in the field. This is a nuisance which can cause costly delays, returning the pump to the shop for disassembly, clean-up, re-assembly, and a return to the field. If a pump seizes during full-speed operation due to running dry, low flow, valve failure, bearing failure, shaft breakage, or another off-design scenario, the welding of metal parts together will generally cause the pump to stop abruptly, causing severe pump damage along with the potential for safety and environmental impacts.
Eliminate the Metal-to-Metal Contact Points in Your Pump
At a very basic level, the reason to upgrade the wear components in your pumps to composite materials is because composite materials are completely dissimilar to metal. Due to the totally different material compositions, metal-to-composite contact does not result in seizure like metal-to-metal contact.
So, our first objective when we are upgrading our pump with composite materials is to eliminate the metal-to-metal contact points within the pump. When using Vespel® CR-6100, the rotating parts will typically remain metal and the stationary parts will become Vespel® CR-6100. With this simple change, we now have metal-to-composite contact points in the pump and the risk of seizure is minimized.
Eliminate the metal-to-metal contact points in your pumps by upgrading the stationary components to Vespel® CR-6100. This simple upgrade will minimize your risk of pump seizure, eliminate nuisance repairs from pumps galling during alignment or slow-roll, and will help mitigate the risks and damage due to off-design operational events including dry-running operation.
Because the risk of pump seizure is minimized, you can now safely reduce the clearance at the wear components, setting up several additional benefits. We’ll talk about reducing the clearance in Part 2.
Until then, if you have had troubles with a pump which galls or seizes, contact Boulden to discuss upgrading the wear parts to Vespel® CR-6100. 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:
Which information is needed in order to upgrade your pump to DuPont™ Vespel® CR-6100?
Using Vespel® CR-6100 wear parts with reduced clearance can help your pumps be more reliable, efficient, and easier to operate. Which measurements and which process data do we need to assemble for the upgrade?
Dimensions Needed for a Quote
Let’s start with the 3 dimensions we need to determine material sizes and availability shown in Figure 1:
- “R” Outside diameter of the rotor running against the Vespel® CR-6100
- “B” Inside diameter of the bore the Vespel® CR-6100 will press into
- “L” Length of the bore
- Alternative: the O.D., I.D., and Length of the existing parts
If we have those 3 dimensions for each part plus the quantity of each part required, we can provide a quote
Dimensions of Design
Figure 1: Dimensions for designing a Vespel® CR-6100 part
To design parts for fabrication, we will need the dimensions of the mating hardware. While many wear parts have a simple O.D., I.D., and Length profile, some parts have additional features for which we will want the dimensions:
- Some pump wear rings have profiles like an “L”, “T”, or “Z”. In those situations, we need to know each of the diameters and widths of any of the “shoulders” or “ribs” of the parts
- Is the pump axially or radially split?
- Are any of the parts are axially split?
- For vertical pump shaft bearings, it will be helpful to know if there is any groove profile required-spiral grooves, axial grooves, how many, what diameter, how deep…
- What is the existing material and clearance of the vertical pump shaft bearings?
Vespel® CR-6100 works in most process services. It is manufactured from Teflon™ PFA and carbon fibers, so it is chemically resistant to nearly all process chemicals and it has a broad temperature range. There are only two general limitations:
- Temperature range is cryogenic -300 F (-200 C) to 500 F (260 C)
- Avoid abrasive slurries, slops, and bottoms services
To design the parts, the pump operating temperature is required in order to determine the correct press fit for the Vespel® CR-6100 parts.
If the components are going into a high-energy pump, such as a multi-stage horizontal charge pump or boiler feed water pump, we recommend that the patent-pending Boulden PERF-Seal™ design be used on all horizontal multi-stage pumps. The PERF-Seal™ design is fabricated from Vespel® CR-6100 and increases the efficiency gain and rotor damping associated with the upgrade. If the PERF-Seal™ is not used, we will need to know the differential pressure across the components in order to verify that they are designed correctly.
Figure 2: PERF-Seal center bushing from a boiler feed water pump
In the ideal situation, you can supply the dimensions of the parts required, the pump cross-sectional drawing, and the API data sheet for the pump. From this information, we can confirm that the service is a good fit for Vespel® CR-6100, quote the material or machined parts required, and make a recommendation on how to install Vespel® CR-6100 into the pump.
Please feel free to contact Boulden with your application details and dimensions. We’ll be happy to provide a budget estimate or a fixed quote depending on the information available. Once you decide to go forward with the upgrade, we have whatever material you need in stock in the USA, Europe, and Singapore.
If you need any material or have any questions. Please contact us today. Until next time.
There is great satisfaction in doing a job all the way.
In South Africa, when you make a statement that someone agrees with, they say “100 %”–similar to how other English speakers say “absolutely.” With that in mind, we want the pumps upgraded to Vespel® CR-6100 to be upgraded 100% whenever possible.
When you upgrade your pumps to Vespel® CR-6100, there are two steps:
- Eliminate the metal-to-metal contact points in the pump
- Reduce the running clearance (of wear rings, center bushings, and throttle bushings)
Upgrading your pumps to Vespel CR-6100 Step #1
Our recommendation when upgrading to Vespel® CR-6100 is to convert all of the stationary wear parts to Vespel® CR-6100. All of the rotating parts remain metal, thus eliminating all of the metal-to-metal contact points in the pump. This essentially eliminates the risk of pump seizure.
Yet, once in a while, customers try to make a small change instead of fully upgrading the pump. The three partial upgrades we run into are:
- Trying to stabilize the shaft of an overhung pump with a throat bushing
- Only doing the center and throttle bushings of a multi-stage horizontal pump
- Only upgrading the shaft bearings of a vertically suspended pump
Older pumps with long slender shafts (high L/D ratios) create problems for mechanical seals due to excessive shaft deflection. If you want to increase the rotor stability of these pumps using the wear parts, you will want to upgrade the wear rings to Vespel® CR-6100 and reduce the clearance.
The reason is that the Lomakin Effect-the hydraulic force which stabilizes the rotor-is driven by differential pressure and the surface speed at the differential pressure interface. Wear rings have significant differential pressure and high velocity, creating a lot of stability from the Lomakin Effect. Throat bushings? Not so much.
Horizontal Multi-Stage Pumps
If a horizontal multi-stage pump like a boiler feed water pump seizes, it will usually occur at the center bushing or throttle bushing, depending on the pump type. These two components generally have the tightest clearance in the pump and will be the first points of contact. In these services, there is a temptation to only upgrade the one or two components which seized.
While this approach has been successful in reducing pump seizures, there are some limitations. Metal-to-metal contact points remain and thus there is still a possibility of seizure. If all of the wear parts are upgraded, the risk of seizure is essentially eliminated. Furthermore, the wear rings also add to the rotor stability and efficiency of these pumps. Upgrading the wear rings as well as the center and throttle bushings will make for a much better pump. Especially if you use the Boulden PERF-Seal™ design (patent-pending).
Vertically Suspended Pumps
Vespel® CR-6100 is a great material for vertically suspended pump shaft bearings in LPG, butane, natural gas liquids (NGL), and other flashing products. It can survive running dry at start up with limited wear. It doesn’t break like a carbon part. This application for Vespel® CR-6100 is so common that Boulden carries a huge inventory of standard stock sizes for the dimensions typically used for shaft bearings.
What some users miss is the opportunity to also upgrade the case rings of these pumps and reduce the clearance. This addition to the upgrade eliminates the other potential seizing points in the pump. Furthermore, reducing the clearance increase the pump efficiency and reduces the NPSHR–all of this making the pump easier to operate.
The only partial upgrade above which we do not recommend is trying to stabilize a rotor with a throat bushing. In our experience, this approach is marginally successful at best. The other partial upgrades have worked and there are situations where they are necessary. But, given the choice, why not do the job 100%?
The main point is to recognize that the maximum improvement in reliability, safety, and efficiency will be achieved if you upgrade all of the wear parts (Table 1) in your pump to Vespel® CR-6100.
Table 1: Components to upgrade to Vespel® CR-6100
|Overhung Pumps||Between Bearings Pumps||Vertically Suspended Pumps|
|Case Wear Rings||Case Wear Rings||Case Wear Rings|
|Throat Bushings||Throat Bushings||Throat Bushings|
|Inter-Stage Bushings||Line-shaft bearings|
|Center-Stage Bushings||Bowl bearings|
|Throttle Bushings||Bottom bushings|
Contact Boulden Today for your Vespel® CR-6100 Needs!
If you have a pump operating at less than 500 F (260 C) where you want to improve the reliability or efficiency, contact Boulden today. We can provide you all of the details required for your upgrade and have the Vespel® CR-6100 material required for the upgrade in stock in a wide range of sizes available for immediate delivery.
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
Part 2: 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