“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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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“.
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.
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:
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 single installation of Vespel® CR-6100 saved a lot of money and troubles.
Several years ago, a refinery upgraded a Catacarb® pump with Vespel® CR-6100 case rings. The pump was a single-stage, between bearings, double suction pump. Catacarb® is a mixture of potassium carbonate and other chemicals which is used to strip gases such as CO2 and H2S from hydrocarbon streams.
Then, one day…
One day, the Operators heard one of the Catacarb® pumps making a loud pounding sound. They shut it down and switched to the spare. The noisy pump stopped without issue. The pump did not seize, the seals did not leak, and there was no release of the process to the atmosphere.
When the pump arrived in the shop, the Maintenance crew found the problem. A piece of metal had broken from an upstream valve, lodged itself in the impeller and proceeded to pound against the pump volute. The impeller suffered substantial damage shown in Figure 1:
Disassembly revealed that the pump had been fitted with Vespel® CR-6100 case rings. The rings showed signs of contact and perhaps a negligible amount of wear, but remained in working condition as shown in Figure 2:
According to the refinery Maintenance team, without the Vespel® CR-6100, the pump would have likely seized, causing severe damage to the pump, along with the potential for seal failure and leakage of the process to the atmosphere. Instead, the plant continued to run. How much money did they save? How much trouble did they avoid? Fortunately, no one will ever know. Because the pump did not seize, the only cost was a standard repair plus a new impeller.
If you want to help your pumps avoid seizure, 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, Merry Christmas, enjoy the holidays and be safe.
3MW Boiler Feed Pump Case Study
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.
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.
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%.
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.
A refinery in North America experienced recurring issues with their diesel charge pumps. The pumps provide feed into the refinery HDS unit. Loss of feed to the unit can result in reduced refinery production and significant losses.
The refinery has 3 total pumps in this service–two pumps running in parallel with an installed spare. The pumps are 1200 HP (900 kW), 13-stage, axially-split, between-bearings pumps (API Type BB3), running at 3550 RPM. The product is diesel fuel at approximately 250 F (120 C).
The original design of these pumps included metal wear rings, throttle, and center bushings. During the previous process upsets, these metal wear parts had seized, requiring expensive pump overhauls. The overhauls required the services of an outside shop, exposing the refinery to production risk due to operating without a spare pump for several weeks.
Earlier this year, the refinery upgraded the first of the three pumps to Vespel® CR-6100, using Boulden’s patented PERF-Seal design for all of the stationary wear parts. The rotating wear parts remained metal, using the original metallurgy and surface finish.
Soon after the upgrade, a process upset caused a temporary loss of flow to the pumps. Figure 1 shows the process flow data during the upset condition. Each box along the x-axis represents one hour and the y-axis represents flow rate. Without sufficient flow to the pumps (blue and cyan lines), minimum flow (yellow line) could not be immediately established, causing the pumps to run at extremely low flow rates for nearly an hour. Partial flow was re-established, but the pumps continued to operate far below the design flow rate for nearly 4 more hours.
normal process conditions were finally restored, the pumps were individually shut down for inspection. The pump with metal wear components seized upon shut down had damage to both bearings and required significant repair work.
The pump with Vespel® CR-6100 rotated freely, with the inspection revealing some damage to the thrust bearing. The thrust bearing was replaced in the field and the pump returned to service where it ran at full rate with no evidence of reduced performance or vibration issues.
In an ideal world, plant processes always operate per design. Unfortunately, there are times when things do not go as planned. When that happened to this refinery, the pump with Vespel® CR-6100 survived where the pumps with metal components could not.
Beyond surviving this incident, the refinery also reports that the pump is running with lower vibration than the pumps with metal components. With reduced clearance at the wear parts, the pump is almost certainly consuming less power, further reducing the life cycle cost of the pump.
If you have a service causing any issues at your plant, 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.
3MW Boiler Feed Pump Case Study
A couple weeks ago, we looked at all of the negative consequences from increasing the wear part clearance in you pumps: wear rings, inter-stage rings, throttle bushings, and center bushings. In the past, increasing the clearance was a typical response to pump seizure.
Now, there is a better way to address the issue and make your pump more reliable and efficient at the same time. Instead of increasing the clearance of the metal parts, replace the stationary wear parts with non-seizing, non-galling Vespel® CR-6100 and reduce the clearance. With this simple change, all the contact points in the pump become metal-to-composite and the risk of seizure is minimized.
When you reduce the clearance at your wear parts, essentially every aspect of the pump hydraulic performance improves. Reduced clearance also tends to produce lower vibration levels. In short, the pump will likely be easier to operate, more reliable, and consume less power.
|Hydraulic Benefits||Mechanical Benefits|
|Higher head||Increased rotor stiffness|
|Higher flow–higher potential maximum flow rate||Potentially lower vibration|
|Increased efficiency–reduced power consumption||Potentially reduced shaft deflection|
|Lower NPSHR–lower risk of cavitation||Reduced risk of shaft breakage|
|Reduced motor load||Potentially longer seal life|
|Steam turbine drivers can run at lower speeds||Potentially longer bearing life|
|Reduced need to run pumps in parallel||Reduced potential for motor tripping or over-heating|
The benefits of reducing the clearance can be augmented using the patented Boulden PERF-Seal™ design. The design is simple to implement, increases the potential efficiency gain from the upgrade, adds a significant amount of hydraulic damping, and generally amplifies the benefits of your upgrade to Vespel® CR-6100. Contact Boulden for details.
Two weeks ago, we wrote about an 11-stage horizontal pump which had seized several times. Each time it seized, the wear part clearance was increased. After the clearance had been increased multiple times, the pump would vibrate beyond alarm limits and the pump was no longer operable.
The plant upgraded the pump with Vespel® CR-6100 case rings, center bushing, and throttle bushing, using the Boulden PERF-Seal™ design. They subsequently reduced the clearance to less than the original design clearance. After the upgrade, the pump ran without seizing, very low vibration, and a significant efficiency gain.
What do you think of our list of benefits from reduced clearance? Is there anything we should add? Anything you disagree with? Let us know your ideas. We will be happy to hear from you.
Until next time, if you have a pump in your shop which can benefit from an upgrade to Vespel® CR-6100 and reduced clearance, contact Boulden. We can answer your questions and we have material in stock and available for immediate shipment.
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.
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.
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.
We have discussed how to measure your pump, prepare the metal parts, and establish the press fit for your Vespel® CR-6100 installation. The final two dimensions you need to establish are the part length and the clearance.
Vespel® CR-6100 has an extremely low coefficient of thermal expansion in the radial plane (perpendicular to rotation). This is one of the principal reasons it performs so well in centrifugal pump components. The low coefficient of thermal expansion is achieved through the use of radially-oriented, long carbon fibers.
Conversely, the coefficient of thermal expansion along the axis is relatively high. Therefore, the part length for a Vespel® CR-6100 component should account for the axial thermal expansion at operating temperature. Table 4 of our installation guide provides the details on how to make this adjustment.
The clearance for the part is set depending on the diameter and component type. Tables 2a and 2b in the installation guide show the clearance recommendations for horizontal pump components such as pump wear rings, throttle bushings, center bushings, inter-stage rings, balance bushings, and throat bushings.
Tables 3a and 3b show the clearance recommendations for vertical pump components like vertical pump shaft bearings, wear rings, and throat bushings.
The best way to set the clearance is to press the component into place, and then final machine the bore to the desired clearance. This is shown in steps 5a-7a in our installation guide, pages 8-9.
Where final machining after the press fit is not practical, you can design the component to have the correct clearance after the press fit. For most component geometries, you can assume the Vespel® CR-6100 will reduce at a 1:1 ratio with the press fit. This method is shown in steps 5b-7b in our installation guide, page 9.
Some sites have implemented a hybrid method. They measure the inside diameter of the Vespel® CR-6100 case wear ring after installation, and then machine the metal impeller wear ring to set the desired clearance.
Installing Vespel® CR-6100 is an easy upgrade to make your pumps more reliable, safe, and efficient. Follow the steps in our installation guide and you can make your pump even better than the day it was new. If you need material, Boulden carries inventory of stock sizes in the USA, Europe, and Singapore.