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reduction is at a factor of 800:1. The reduced power requirements of mechanical seals mean energy conservation and savings in power costs. Reduced leakage means savings in many forms. These are reduced product loss, reduced load on effluent treatment plants, less dilution of process fluids and reduced evaporator cost. Mechanical seals represent large potential savings to the pulp and paper industry. The following examples will demonstrate the savings in power costs, as well as a dramatic savings in evaporation costs, when mechanical seals are applied in black liquor recovery pumps. It will also be demonstrated that mechanical seals will reduce the chance of a recovery boiler explosion by eliminating all water dilution from stuffing boxes to recovery systems. Compression packing is usually a braid of one of many materials which is woven or extruded into square cross section, then cut and formed into rings. These rings are “packed” into the stuffing box and control leakage due to their proximity to the shaft they are sealing. The degree to which they contain leakage is dependent on regulation of the packing gland or packing follower, but in all cases requires some leakage to cool and lubricate the shaft. This leakage for our comparison will be established to be 25 drops/min and used in our first two examples, which is a conservative average. Some pump companies recommend a leakage rate as high as 40 to 60 drops per minute for proper packing lubrication. It stands to reason there must be a balance. Tightening to slow leakage to slow leakage will increase power draw and vice versa. An end face mechanical seal is a controlled leakage device which established a seal by intimate contact or two flat and parallel faces perpendicular to the axis of rotation of a shaft. Contract is maintained at the faces by a compression unit consisting of a collar, springs, drive pins, and compression unit acting on the rotating face. The stationary seal face is held in place by a gland ring or follower flange at the face of the stuffing box. The rotary unit is usually mounted in the stuffing box where hydraulic pressure generated by the pumps aids in holding the faces in close proximity. The faces of the rotating seal ring and the stationary insert are lubricated by a microscopic film of liquid that is able to migrate between them. Although it is true that when this film reaches the atmosphere. It can be classified as leakage; It is usually so slight that it will vaporize before it can be detected. Normal leakage of a seal for purposes of this discussion will be established at 45 drops per day. This is a normal average for mechanical seals. A basic comparison with the leakage rates for the compression packings yields the following: 25 drops/min x 60 min/hr x 24 hr/day + 45 drops/day = 800 A leakage ration of packings to seals of 800:1. Due to the design of mechanical seals, power requirements can be precisely calculated. A typical ANSI pump will be used in our first two examples. This pump has a shaft size of 1 ¾”, shaft speed of 3600 RPM, and a 50 psig pressure imposed on the stuffing box. Under the described conditions the power requirement would be.33KW/hr of operation for a mechanical seal. Precise power requirements for compression packings are difficult to establish due to its dependency on the packing gland for adjustment, varying lubricants and materials used for its manufacture. However, tests have established an average power requirement of 2 KW per hour of operation. We now have a basis for comparison: 2 KW ------- = 6:1 Power requirement ratio. .33 The fist example is based on 8,160 operation hours per year. Example #1: Water at ambient temperature by our typical ANSI pump described earlier. Since untreated water is of low cost, we will not consider it as having any value. Five rings of packing would cost about $15.35 based on an average of the types of packing which can be found in this application in industry. A mechanical seal would cost $113.00. A gland ring would cost $120 for a total $233 if this were an initial installation. Using simple unit conversion, annual operating costs can be established:
Figure I Cost of packing for power: 8,160 hours x 2KW x S.0275 -------------- ------------- = $448.80/yr yr hr KW
Cost of mechanical seal for power: 8,160 x .33 KW x S.0275 --------------------- = $74.05/yr yr hr KW Total cost of packing for material and power: $448.80 power costs 15.35 cost of packing $464.15 Total Total cost of mechanical seal for material and power: $ 74.05 power costs 233.00 cost of seal $ 307.05 Total Savings first year based on power savings alone = $157.10 The design basis for mechanical seals is 15,000 hours in a given application. Projecting the above figures to these limits is the basis for the next example.
Figure II Savings of mechanical seals vs packing over the design life (15,000hrs) of a mechanical seal. Packing Seal $ 825.00 power (2 KW/hr x S0.275/KW) $136.12 power (.33 KW/hr x $.0275/Kw) 30.70 two sets packing 233.00 seal cost 76.50 labor 54.00 labor 75.00 sleeve repair _44.00 seal repair $1,007.00 Total $467.12 Total
Conservatively, the cost of the mechanical seal is less than 50% of the cost of packing. Labor is based on $9.00 per hour allowing 15 minutes per month for packing adjustment plus three hours for sleeve replacement and repacking once during 22 months. Sleeve repair cost is based on an average between replacement and / or repair of a used sleeve. Labor in the seal is based on three hours for two installations. The seal repair cost is very realistic, and sleeve repair cost is not considered since a seal with elastomer secondary elements will rarely damage a shaft sleeve. This example demonstrated the large savings associated with the use of mechanical seals in just power and maintenance costs. This is even greater when one considers savings in product loss and savings in evaporation costs. The next example illustrates the savings when mechanical seals are installed in black liquor evaporator system pumps. A typical packed stuffing box requires a water flush of 720 to 1,440 gallons per day per stuffing box! This amount of dilution adds directly to evaporation costs. Chem Seals has seal designs which will eliminate this dilution thus saving money and reducing the chances of a recovery boiler explosion. Chem Seals has successfully applied single mechanical seals without any water flush in concentration up to 50% black liquor. Double seals are generally recommended for heavier concentrations. In either case, all water dilution can be eliminated. The purpose of this system is to remove water from black liquor in order to use it as fuel in the recovery boiler and to reclaim the chemicals for re-use. This is basically a very efficient system and it also operates under a vacuum to take advantage of the lower boiling point of water in a cascading, multiple effect evaporator.
In this example we will be using the large recirculation pumps which operate under a vacuum. These pumps have a water seal on the packing to effect a good vacuum seal on the system. It is also common practice to flood the back of the stuffing box with water from a hose to maintain vacuum when the packing is nearly worn out. One major paper manufacturer in the Southeast stated it cost them 1.3Φ/ gallon of evaporation in their system. At that rate they are “evaporator poor.” A good average can be established at 0.5Φ / gallon based on steam costs of $2.75/1,000 lbs. 5:1 evaporation ration and an overall thermal efficiency of .9. This example is based on an actual application. The pumps operate at 720 RPM, have a 4/12” shaft size, and a double seal for this pump costs $2,500. The company is replacing shaft sleeves at the rate of 2/yr per pump at $300 per sleeve and repacking 4 times/yr at $60/set of packing. Another problem was water infiltration into the bearing housing causing bearing failure. The calculations in Figure III are based on an inleakage rate of ½ GPM. In actual practice pumps can be found to draw as much as 5 GPM.
Figure III Evaporator cost of packing: .5 GPM x 60 min/hr x 8,160 hr/yr = 244,800 GPY per pump 244,800 GPY x 7 pumps = 1,713,600 GPY 1,713,600 x .005/gal avg. evaporation costs = $8,568
Total costs of seals vs. packing in black liquor evaporator pumps over two years: Packing 1st year 28 sets of packing ($60 ea) $ 1,680 14 sleeves ($300 ea) 4,200 Labor ($9 per hr) 2,331 (packing, repacking & adjustment) Power (2 KW/hr x $.0275 x 8,160 x 7) = 3,142 Evaporation costs 8,568 Total 1st year $19,921 Packing 2nd year Same costs as 1st year $19,921 Total for 2 years $39,842 Seals 1st year 7 seals ($2,500 a) $17,500 (4 ½” doubles w/tungsten carbide faces) Labor ($ 9 per hr) 1,008 (installation) Power (.66 KW/hr x .0275 x 8,160 x 7) 1,037 Evaporation cost 0 Total 1 st year $ 19,545 Seals 2nd year Same costs 1st year except seals Are repaired at 35% of initial cost 8,170 Total for two years $ 27,715 Savings $ 12, 127 over 2 years Return on investment 69% over 2 years Generally speaking, it can be stated that timber is 50% water, and it would follow that a mill’s capacity in production is equal to the capacity of the evaporators to process weak liquor from the digester on a pound-for-pound basis. This is a reference to the term “evaporator poor.” Assuming there is capacity in the paper machine for added production and the lost production of water is applied to actual production in this example, it would be as follows: .5 gal x 60 min x 8,160 hr x 8,337 lb x ton ------------------------------- = 1,020.4 tons/yr x 7 = min hr yr gal 2000 lb 7,143 tons/yr in paper output, 7,143 tons/yr of Linerboard x $200 = 1,428,628 yr.
If we consider seal costs and divide it by this increased revenue minus production cost, it might look like this: $ 19,545 $ 19,545 --------------------- = --------------- =.036 years or an amortization of about two weeks! $1,428,628 - $892,875 $535,753 The production cost figure may not be accurate for all mills, but it provides an illustration of how much seals can contribute to the economy of the pulp and paper industry. One must consider the effects of mechanical seals on plant effluents. They provide containment of fluids that are considered pollutants and ordinarily must be removed by some means prior to discharge, and there are many areas in industry where government regulatory agencies are prohibiting the discharge of fluids that were not scrutinized in prior years. Regardless of what the fluid intake rate of a given plan is, the cost of removing pollutants from plant effluents can quadruple the cost of handling them. The mechanical seal industry has grown from an art to a highly refined technology in the process industry over the past 40 years. Today fluids are being successfully sealed that would have never been attempted back in the middle 1950’s. In fact, to properly pack a pump is an art in itself, and this skill is not readily found in today’s labor market. It requires a judgement, skill, and a touch on the part of the maintenance man that is only acquired through years of experience. Good people today are advanced to higher positions so rapidly that this skill is not passed on. Mechanical seals only require the use of basic hand tools found in any maintenance shop. We feel mechanical seals can play an important role in helping the paper industry conserve energy, reduce pollutants, and save money.
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