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The Fluid Systems Engineering and Management Blog

by Swagelok Northern California

When Should You Switch to a Dry Gas Seal Application in California Bay Area Refineries?

by Malik Durojaiye, on 11/3/21 9:00 AM

Design-AsemmblyRunning a new process in a refinery can be difficult in terms of engineering and operational challenges. The components of the processing operation should be effective and efficient at meeting processing needs. The system needs to be able to operate at peak performance with limited maintenance for as long as possible. Further, the processing operation needs to be compatible with the processing needs—that is, the components of operating need to be congruent with the temperature, pressure, and materials of the processing operation. With all this in mind, it can be difficult to make engineering choices for how best to meet processing needs.

Consider utilizing a dry gas seal application for new processing operations. When implemented and operated correctly, dry gas seals require less maintenance than other options, have a long production life, and have the flexibility for a range of operational needs. Though engineering options for a dry gas seal application can seem daunting, a local expert can help with utilizing a dry gas seal and dry gas seal support system to make for a long-lasting efficient processing operation.

In this article, we will examine the benefits of a dry gas seal application, the engineering options for a gas seal support system, and the importance of having a local expert to meet dry gas seal support system needs.

The Benefits of a Dry Gas Seal

Dry gas seals are crucial for refinery operations; they separate process gas from other chemicals and components of processing. These seals have two faces that separate as gas flows across the faces of these seals, and this allows the dry gas seal to separate and close with minimal contact occurring between the faces. There are several benefits from this way of operating.

Long Production Life

Due to minimal contact between the faces of the dry gas seal, there is less wear and tear on dry gas seals as there is in other types of seals. This results in dry gas seals having a long production of life—around 10 years if dry gas seals are properly implemented.

Less Maintenance

Similarly, the minimal wear and tear to dry gas seals during operations means that less maintenance is typically needed to maintain operations. This not only limits maintenance costs but allows for operations to run continuously and efficiently which has large economic benefits.

Several Processing Options

Processing can involve many different chemicals. Some of these chemicals are heat sensitive, corrosive, toxic, or combustible. In many instances, the dry gas seal is the only option that can work with these chemicals while maintaining minimal risks to operations.  

Flexibility in Operational Needs

Dry gas seals can be utilized for operations that need to be run continuously, semi-continuously, or only at distinct junctions. The temperature and pressure requirements of the system can also be accommodated by dry gas seals.

The dry gas seal on its own is not the end of the story for meeting operational needs. The dry gas seal support system must also be installed and operated correctly. We will now discuss the seal support system and the importance of its proper implementation.

Implementing the Appropriate Seal Support System for Dry Gas Seal Application

Dry gas seal support systems allow for efficient operations when properly aligned with seal configuration and processing conditions. The seal support system is important for several major tasks during operations including the following:

  • preventing liquid from forming in the seal; 
  • monitoring the dry gas seal for leakage and alerting operators to gas leakage; 
  • containing gas leakage; and 
  • the continual function of managing the flow of gases to and venting the flow of processed gas from the dry gas seal.

Operational design relies on the dry gas seal support system. The seal support system and its components need to meet operational needs for the chemicals used and for the processing characteristics of operations.

Compatibility with Chemicals Used in Production

The materials used to construct a dry gas seal support system need to work with the chemicals used in operations. The chemicals used in operation are often corrosive and reactive to certain materials. A poorly implemented seal support system can lead to additional maintenance issues, risks of gas leakage, and system shut down.

Compatibility with Processing Characteristics

The dry gas seal support system must align with the pressure, volume, and flow of gas and liquids in operations. The materials of the dry gas seal support system need to be able to withstand the variation in temperature and pressure that occurs during operations. The flow of gas and liquids need to be properly controlled in order to prevent a build-up of pressure and leakage of chemicals to the surrounding atmosphere.

Component Considerations

The components of the dry gas seal support system include the compressor (which prevents gas leakage into the atmosphere), the seal panel (which monitors dry gas seal for leakage and monitors gas flow and pressure), and the rotating seat (which creates gas film stiffness). The selection of each of these components of the dry gas seal support system requires taking into account their interaction with other components of the system. For instance, the seal panel must be properly configured with the dry gas seal cartridge and with the constraints of the operation; the rotating seat may have space constraints based on the operational configuration. Further, the operational needs for the flow of gas (e.g. a continuous or discrete flow of gas) will impact the choice in many components such as which type of valves to use.

Switch to a Dry Gas Seal Application with Expert Guidance

Running a new process in refinery operations can be challenging. There are multiple engineering considerations that need to be made to achieve optimal performance.  A dry gas seal application is often the best choice for long-term peak performance while lowering maintenance costs. Dry gas seals and dry gas seal support systems offer numerous engineering choices. For a dry gas seal application to be beneficial to the unique specifications and operational needs, it requires knowledge and expertise.

A local expert in gas seal systems can help identify the dry gas seal and the seal support system best suited for operations. They will consider the chemicals used in operations to avoid corrosion, the characteristics in operations (e.g flow, pressure, and temperature), and the overall goals of the operations. Swagelok has the local experts to help with all dry gas seal and dry gas seal support needs. Swagelok’s team of experience Field Engineers can ensure that new process operations cohesively work with overall operations.

To find out more about how Swagelok Northern California can help you with your dry gas seal and all your seal support system needs, contact our team today by calling 510-933-6200.


About Malik Durojaiye | Field Engineer, Assembly Services

Malik Durojaiye began his Swagelok career in 2019 as a Custom Solutions Engineer in our Assembly Services group. Prior to Swagelok, Malik developed as a design engineer as well as a manufacturing engineer for 6 years serving Kentucky and California with Altec Industries; a leading provider of products and services to the electric utility, telecommunications, tree care, lights and signs, and contractor markets.

Topics:Assembly ServicesMission CriticalSeal Support Systems

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