Fugitive emission is a hazardous phenomenon that leads to pollution in the atmosphere and may lead to further environmental harm, including the greenhouse effect. Northern California refineries have many reasons to look for solutions to curb fugitive emissions below 100 ppm level to comply with the consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As per the EPA, fugitive emissions and control valve leakage go hand in hand. Leaky valves are responsible for 60% of the total fugitive emissions through uncontrolled volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Thus, with the right low emission valves in the system, refineries can achieve their emission quota with ease. Let's dig deeper.
The negative impacts and consequences of fugitive emissions can be realized from various angles, such as the cost of lost product, environmental degradations, health risks, and fire hazards.
Fugitive emissions from control valves may release carbon dioxide (CO2) and toxic hydrocarbons such as carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) and methane (CH4) into the atmosphere. These gases, due to their high density, stay in the upper atmosphere and form an invisible layer. This layer allows the sun rays to pass through but traps most of the reflected heat down from the earth instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. As a result, the earth's atmosphere gets warmer than it should be, leading to global warming. This entire effect is known as the greenhouse effect.
Needless to say, global warming is responsible for various environmental disasters such as melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and increasing incidences of drought, fire, and hurricanes.
Spillage of hydrocarbons in the form of oil and gas is a loss to production. They contain toxic compounds, like hydrogen sulfide (H2S), that are highly flammable in nature. If not addressed early, they may also cause fire and explosion. Moreover, more than 100 ppm H2S concentration in the atmosphere can be life-threatening for a human.
Fugitive emissions from leaky valves may also contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs)-specifically hydrocarbons- that are classified as pollutants. Their increasing concentration in the atmosphere could cause ozone layer depletion. This can weaken the earth's natural shield from harmful UV radiation of the sun, known to cause skin cancer and other health problems.
If the valves are leaking, it means their sealing and packing have been damaged, equating to a loss of assets.
To avoid these hassles, it is imperative to know how to select the right valve to keep fugitive emissions under control.
There are different types of control valves available. They have been specifically designed to meet different types of application requirements. For a lighter, less viscous fluid, needle valves are the best, whereas fine metering valves are ideal for applications requiring the most precise flow control. Quarter-turn valves that use a ball valve design are recommended for economical low throttling applications.
Make sure the valves meet ANSI, ISO and API standards for low emissions. The ANSI/ISA S93.00.01-1999 classification provides methods to test manual and automated valves against any external leakage. Similarly, ANSI/FCI 91-1 classification suggests local methods to check control valve stem seals for any leakage according to EPA method 21. The ISO 15848-1 standard tests a valve against different types of class in regards to endurance, tightness, and temperature. However, all tests are performed at room temperature, and you can choose either helium or methane as the test fluid. To ensure your valve's emission standards at elevated temperature, a secondary API test certification is highly essential. There are two standard API tests: API 624 (for rising stem valves) and API 624 (for ball valves). API 624 and 641 tests check your valve through 310 and 610 thermal cycles, respectively, at ambient temperature and high temperature alternatively. If a valve meets all these above standards, you can rest assured of its <100 ppm leakage design.
You should also consider replacing your aging valves with low emission valves for compliance. Conduct thorough routine tests for VOC leaks as per EPA Method 21 to ensure consent decrees are in place. The EPA Method 21 includes Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) programs to easily identify leaky valves. You can also seek the help of a local expert to assist you with valve analysis and replacement.
Swagelok offers low emission valves, also called Low-E valves, for every type of industrial application. Apart from standard company testing, these valves also come with a third-party API testing certificate issued by Yarmouth Research and Technology. With Swagelok valves, you can take advantage of the ease of use and reduced effort to rebuild assemblies, thanks to the Swagelok exclusive kit. The kit gives you clear information to easily replace the packing or rebuild the entire assembly for switching higher application requirements at any time.
While selecting a low emission control valve, your choices may seem overwhelming. Swagelok Field Engineers can help you select and size the right low emission valve for your refinery. They can also analyze your existing valves against different ISO and API standards applicable for fugitive emissions to recommend ideal replacements. You can also custom order your valve with a wide variety of material options available against different parts to accommodate your system temperature requirements. Switch to Swagelok dedicated low emission valves to keep your plant fugitive emissions in check and avoid unnecessary downtime and costs in the long run.
Available in a variety of standard materials and end connections. Offered in high flow and quick-quarter turn manual or pneumatic actuation. Engineered for repeatable, leak-tight shutoff. Low overall cost of ownership. Can be manufactured or configured to a wide range of specifications. Fill the form to get details.
Designed to safely bleed system pressure prior to maintenance, removal of an instrument, or when calibrating control devices. Knurled caps permanently assembled to the valve bodies to enhance safety. Fill the form to get details by email.
Stop the uncontrolled release of system media when a downstream line ruptures. Reset automatically when pressure is restored. Reduce maintenance time. Eliminate the need for complex bypass mechanisms. Fill the form to get details by email.
Swagelok offers several metering valves for low- and high-pressure service in 316 stainless steel and brass materials with flow coefficients from 0.004 to 0.16 for low-, medium-, and high-flow applications. Deliver accurate flow rate control in analytical, instrumentation, and research applications. Suitable for low- and high-pressure situations. Fine adjustments for precision applications. Fill the form to get details by email.
Swagelok offers a broad line of needle shutoff and regulating valves to control flow in general- and severe-service applications. Reliable and consistent flow control. Offered in a variety of materials, sizes, and end connections. Engineered to withstand corrosive and extreme conditions. Fill the form to get details by email.
Efficient transitions from process piping systems to instrumentation systems in a single configuration with fewer potential leak points. Lower installed weights and smaller footprints compared to assemblies featuring multiple valves and fittings. Fill the form to get details by email.
Economical, reliable alternative to ball valves. Dependable low-torque, quarter-turn operation. Simple, compact design to deliver full flow and positive shutoff. Available in a variety of materials, including stainless steel, brass, and lightweight PFA. Fill the form to get details by email.
Provide simple, reliable, over-pressure protection for a variety of general-industry applications. Have easy external set pressure adjustment. Fill the form to get details by email.