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M COLUMN: Q&A SEALING SOLUTIONS


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Q&A
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NE Sealing Want more on sealing?
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Pump Engineer is proud to announce Q&A: arƟcles by Michael Huebner.
Sealing Solutions. This section will address
common questions and challenges faced
in sealing centrifugal pumps. Readers are
encouraged to submit to questions which or into a buffer fluid can be
will be considered for future editions. tolerated. In these applications,
the goal of the Plan 32 is to
Submit your questions to the editor at isolate the seal and prevent the
s.schroer@kci-world.com process fluid from entering the
seal chamber.
By Michael Huebner, Principle Engineer, Flowserve
In other cases, however, the

Q What are the


considerations
physical properties, such a high
viscosity, or have a tendency to
solidify or crystalize under some
goal of the Plan 32 may be only
to dilute the process fluid to
improve the physical properties.
in determining a Plan set of conditions (e.g. standby). This is common in applications,
Whatever the justification, a Plan such as some chemical slurries
32 flush flow rate? 32 can be useful in providing or very vicious hydrocarbons
a better environment for seal (e.g. asphalt). The fluid properties

A Plan 32 piping plan is a


common method of improving the
operation and improving seal
reliability.
in the seal chamber will be
dominated by the Plan 32 flush.
Low concentrations of process
environment for the mechanical The Plan 32 injection fluid may fluid in the seal chamber will not
seal. Rather than exposing the serve several functions: isolation, adversely impact performance.
seal to the process fluid in dilution, and heat removal. In
the pump, an external fluid is many cases, the injected fluid is In virtually every Plan 32, the
introduced into the seal chamber intended to positively displace external flush also carries away
which displaces the process fluid the process fluid from the seal the seal generated heat. In high
and prevents or minimizes the chamber and prevent any temperature applications, the
process fluid from contacting the process from contacting the seal. Plan 32 may also be required
seal. There are several reasons Examples of these applications to reduce the seal chamber
why a Plan 32 may be used. The include highly corrosive temperature to prevent coking or
process fluid may contain solids processes or applications where prevent excessive heat soak into
or abrasive particles which may even small amounts of the the seal buffer or barrier fluid.
cause seal hang-up or damage process fluid can compromise
the seal faces. The user may want seal performance (e.g. slurries One of the critical considerations
to minimize leakage of process or fluids with abrasive particles). of a Plan 32 is determining the
to atmosphere for environmental This may also be required in required flush rate of the external
or housekeeping reasons. The applications where no process fluid. A high flow rate may
process fluid may have poor fluid leakage to atmosphere provide excellent isolation, but
has the drawback of high usage
of the Plan 32 flush fluid. The
user must balance the benefits
provided by the Plan 32 against
operational costs for providing
the flush and the potential
impact of the flush on equipment
performance and downstream
operations. The answer to this
question requires considering the
function of the Plan 32 flush
in the specific application.

If the goal of the Plan 32 is to


provide isolation, the process fluid
must be prevented from entering
Figure 1: Piping Plan 32. the seal chamber. The most

Pump Engineer, December 2015 30


COLUMN: Q&A SEALING SOLUTIONS

common method for achieving


this is to maintain a high flush
velocity under the throat bushing
in the seal chamber. This high
velocity effectively prevents
process fluid from migrating
against the flow under the
bushing. Most industry practices
use a target fluid velocity of 4.6
m/s (15 fps) for the flush in the
bushing. While this figure is
somewhat arbitrary, it has proven
to be very successful in the field.
The velocity is a function of Figure 2: Plan 32 flush velocity under the throat bushing.
the shaft diameter, diametrical
clearance under the bushing, and the temperatures in the seal the seal chamber. By adding a
volumetric flow rate of the flush. chamber, it may be possible to low flow rate Plan 32 to a Plan 23,
Flush flow rates can be reduced provide cooling by incorporating it is possible to operate a system
by using tighter clearances a Plan 23 into the system. A Plan that is continually purged and has
between the bushing and shaft. 23 piping plan is designed to effective cooling.
recirculate fluid from the seal
If the goal of the flush is to chamber to a seal cooler and The goal of most Plan 32 systems
dilute the process in the seal back to the seal chamber. This is is to provide the lowest flush
chamber and absolute isolation the most effective and efficient flow rate consistent with the
is not required, it is possible to method for dissipating heat requirements for application. This
greatly reduce the flush rate. loads and reducing seal chamber requires a thoughtful evaluation of
In these cases, it may be useful temperatures. By its nature, the Plan the isolation, dilution, and/or heat
to consider the flush rates in 23 does not promote interchange removal functions of the piping
term of fluid exchanges in of fluid between the process and plan for the specific application.
the seal chamber. As a given
volume of flush enters the seal
chamber, it will theoretically
displace the same volume
of fluid that is already there.
Based on the volume in the seal
chamber and the volumetric
flow rate of the Plan 32 flush, it is
straightforward to calculate the
number of seconds between fluid
exchanges. Adding an effective
throat bushing in the seal
chamber can not only provide
better isolation of the seal
chamber from the pump process,
but can also reduce the seal
chamber volume and thereby
reduce the time between fluid
exchanges in the chamber.
Figure 3: Combination of a Plan 23 and Plan 32.
In reducing the flow rate to an
absolute minimum, the user must ABOUT THE EXPERT: Michael Huebner
also consider the thermal balances
Michael Huebner is a Principal Engineer at Flowserve Corporation in Pasadena,
in the piping plan. The flush flow
Texas. He has over 30 years of experience in the design, testing, and application
not only provides isolation and
of mechanical seals both in the USA and Europe. He has authored numerous
dilution, but may be required
articles and lectured extensively around the world. He has a BS in Engineering
to carry away seal generated
Technology from Texas A&M. Mr. Huebner is a member of the API 682 Task
heat and heat soak into the seal
Force on Mechanical Seals, the ASME B73 Committee on centrifugal pumps,
chamber. This is especially
the Advisory Committee for the Texas A&M Pump Symposium, and the ASME.
critical in higher temperature
He is also on the Steering Committee for a brand new pump event coming to
applications. If the proposed flow
Houston in 2016 called Pump Summit Americas.
rate cannot effectively control

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