Dry Disconnect Coupling – Handling Hazardous, High-Value Chemicals Doesn’t Have To Be High Risk

Being able to minimize the amount of harmful chemicals lost during the connection and disconnection of coupling systems offers significant benefits to operators and handlers, but it can also lead to substantial cost savings. High-value chemicals are utilized throughout most manufacturing industries, and the utmost care has to be taken in order to maximize profits while reducing losses and, thus, maximizing safety as well.

The OPW Engineer Systems dry disconnect coupling systems are capable of reducing risk to those handling high-value chemicals.

Butadiene. Xylene. Toluene. Sulphuric Acid. Potassium Hydroxide. These are just some of the many chemicals being transported at this very moment across the continent with the use of railcars, trucks, and other transport systems. Even the names sound dangerous, and the potentially harmful effects for humans and the environment would be truly devastating if these chemicals are mishandled. But, they also have another thing in common: they are incredibly expensive to produce.

This is why everyone involved in the handling and transportation of these highly hazardous, high-value chemicals enter into a tacit agreement with all of their employees, the environment, and their bank accounts. Each moment of every day, they reinforce that these valuable and volatile liquids have to be handled with the utmost care, from the manufacturing plant all the way to the bulk-storage facilities that house them.

The equipment used to transport materials in the chemical processing supply chain act as a key link. These systems help take volatile chemicals from the manufacturing facility all the way to the storage terminal. For many years, dry disconnect couplings have been the accepted technology, enabling the connection of hoses to storage tanks and transport vehicles with a poppet-style design.

However, the use of poppets–no matter how popular–can compromise the safety of handlers while also potentially harming the environment. This is because the poppers inside of the coupler form a crevice where chemicals can nest, meaning there is always the potential that a small product spill can occur where the couplings are disconnected.

Fortunately for the handlers, there is an alternative technology that addresses all of the operational shortcomings of poppet-style couplers. This alternative is known as the Epsilon Dry Disconnect Coupling system, produced by OPW Engineered Systems in Ohio. The one thing that sets it apart is the innovative use of a ball-valve design.

Poppet Style Couplings

Poppet: Refers to the type of valve used to stop fluids from flowing when the two mating parts of a quick disconnect are separated. Chosen for its simplicity in both function and manufacturability, poppet style hose couplings are used in more applications than any other style of coupling. It is a true multipurpose hose coupling.

When utilizing poppet-style disconnects, liquid transfer is initiated when the poppets are opened by the operator (Step 1). The liquid-transfer is completed when the operator closes the poppets (Step 2). However, at this time, a small amount of liquid can be trapped and during disconnection, it is possible that the trapped liquid can escape, leading to a minor product spill (Step 3). When hazardous, high-value chemicals are being handled, this potential product spill can be harmful to site personnel and the environment.

With poppet-style disconnects, the liquid transfer is initiated when the operator opens the poppets. It is then complete when the poppers are closed. However, this is when chemicals can become trapped during disconnection making it possible for them to escape and lead to a minor product spill. With hazardous and high-value chemicals, this potential spill could be harmful to site personnel and the environment.

The ball-valve design, on the other hand, allows a convex ball to sit within a concave ball while the valve is opened. This makes for a straight-through passageway which allows liquid to transfer freely through the adaptor with no reduction in flow rate. When disconnected, no cavities are created, which means no product can build up or be spilled. This zero-spill operation is accomplished with the use of five independent, redundant mechanical interlocks. These interlocks require deliberate and sequential action by the handler, which eliminates unintentional spills.

Ball Valve Couplings

The ball-valve operation disconnect allows a convex ball to seat with a convex ball when the valve is opened (Step 1). This straight-through design allows the liquid to transfer through the adaptor and coupling with no reduction in flow rate (Step 2). Upon disconnection there are no cavities created in which product can nest, meaning no product will be spilled (Step 3). This no-spill operation is accomplished through the use of five independent and redundant mechanical interlocks that require deliberate sequential action by users, thereby eliminating unintentional spills and catastrophic chemical releases.

This design was also engineered by Epsilon to be easier to maintain than a poppet-style design. Epsilon allows for quick, in-field replacement of the transfer seal without any locket required. This helps to minimize downtime when seals are being replaced, along with stems and bearings. No special tools are required, either. Other standard setting benefits and features that make this system stand apart include:

  •      Straight-through flow that allows for fast and optimized loading and unloading.
  •      Seals, stems, and bearings that can be easily replaced with minimal downtime.
  •      Wetted components are available in Hastelloy C or SS-316.
  •      Spring-loaded and spring-energized PFA, PTFE, and TFM seals.
  •       An optional keyed interface which isolates transfer lines and prevents product cross-contamination.
  •      Available in 1″, 2″ or 3″ sizes.

So, when you are after a reliable transfer method for hazardous and high-value chemicals, the Epsilon Dry Disconnect Coupling is the ultimate choice.

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