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Flow Solutions and Technologies for Chemical Processing

The chemical processing industry relies heavily on flow processes, such as mass air and compressed air flow, process and waste gas flow, tank blanketing, and pump protection. Reliable flow measurement and instrumentation is key to the efficiency and safety of these processes. Flow technology can ensure that chemical processing runs smoothly and without leaks or spills. In this article, the last in Magnetrol’s series on the chemical industry, we will discuss flow technology applications and solutions for chemical processing.

Mass Air & Compressed Air Flow
Application: The flow of air is monitored in nearly all industrial settings, including applications for processing, air/gas mixing, cooling, blowing & drying, combustion, aeration, ventilation, filtration, and ingredients mixing. Compressed air (CA) is essential for pneumatic tools, materials handling, oxidation, fractionalization, cryogenics, dehydration, filtration and aeration.

Challenges: Significant air-flow variables include pipe diameters, wide flow ranges, varying velocities and low flow sensitivity. Flow meters help ensure efficient operation at rated SCFM output and detect air leaks. A flow meter with a totalizer provides an accurate measurement of CA consumption.

Flow Technologies:
– Thermatel® Model TD1/TD2 Thermal Dispersion Flow Switch for flow alarm
– THERMATEL Model TA2 Thermal Dispersion Mass Flow Meter for continuous flow

Process & Waste Gas Flow
Application: Common process gases used in chemical, pharmaceutical, plastics, semi-conductor, food, beverage, and petrochemical processing include compressed air, natural gas, nitrogen, argon, hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. Industrial waste exhaust gases are present in a wide variety of compositions from benign to toxic. Measurement of the flow of these later gases is often required for reporting environmental emissions.

Challenges: Continuous mass flow measurement of compressed gases help improve plant efficiency. Often these applications require high turndown capabilities and low flow measurement with varying gas pressures and temperatures. Thermal mass flow measurement ideally handles these applications providing high accuracy and high turndown with reliable, dependable operation.

Flow Technologies:
– THERMATEL Model TD1/TD2 Thermal Dispersion Flow Switch for flow alarm
– THERMATEL Model TA2 Thermal Dispersion Mass Flow Meter for continuous flow

Tank Blanketing
Application: Nitrogen—the most widely used commercial gas—is the ideal tank blanketing gas when injected into the vapor space of a storage tank. It prevents ignition of flammable liquids, inhibits vapor loss, and protects chemicals, pharmaceuticals and foods from oxygen and moisture degradation. Nitrogen is also used as a purging agent and in cryogenic applications.

Challenges: Mass flow measurement will monitor the nitrogen blanketing gas. A mass flow meter can track usage as a cost control measure by determining when and where gas is used. Flow monitoring of feed lines can prevent unsafe conditions that may arise when gas supply is insufficient.

Flow Technologies:
– THERMATEL Model TD1/TD2 Thermal Dispersion Flow Switch for flow alarm
– THERMATEL Model TA2 Thermal Dispersion Mass Flow Meter for continuous flow

Pump Protection
Application: Pumps are used throughout chemical operations for moving process fluids. Whether caused by a closed valve, a plugged line downstream or by pump cavitation, pumps operating in a reduced or no-flow condition can overheat and rupture the pump’s seal and cause a dangerous deviation in process pressure and temperature.

Challenges: A flow switch along a pump’s discharge piping will actuate an alarm and shut down the pump when liquid flow drops below the minimum flow rate. Solid state switches provide the highest level of protection in these instances by offering low flow sensitivity, wide temperature operation and high turndown.

Flow Technologies:
– THERMATEL Model TD1/TD2 Thermal Dispersion Flow Switch for flow alarm
– THERMATEL Model TD1/TD2 Thermal Dispersion Flow Switch for pump protection