PROSHIELD™, a new coating solution from Protectoseal that prevents media build-up in vapour control safety equipment, is now available in southern Africa through sole distributor, Energas Technologies.
As chemical and related processing technology becomes more complex, the need for safe and efficient support equipment for these operations has become more critical. With that in mind, Protectoseal, a globally renowned manufacturer of safety products, has developed its PROSHIELD, a unique fluoropolymer-based coating option that – when properly applied to the company’s vapour control products – results in a smooth, nonporous surface with a low coefficient of friction.
This surface condition minimises the retention and attachment of condensed vapours from the stored liquid media. Droplets that form on the coated surface are able to rapidly drain back into the tank before polymerisation can take place. Laetitia Jansen van Vuuren, Product Engineer at Energas Technologies, explains that PROSHIELD may be a good option to consider for applications where sticky media and/or the tendency for unwanted build-up may hinder the proper operation of the vapour control equipment.
Controlling unwanted build-up
This coating has been successfully tested in one of the most ‘build-up prone’ environments – in styrene monomer storage tanks. Styrene monomer is a building block in the plastic industry, yet it is a volatile, flammable liquid that – if not inhibited properly – tends to polymerise.
A leading global supplier of resin chemistries for composites and cast polymers was facing operational difficulties due to a rapid and frequent build-up of polymerised styrene in their vapour control equipment.
Such build-up, if not managed properly, could prevent the equipment from properly venting, putting the safe operation of their storage tanks at risk. Weekly inspections and significant maintenance hours were often required to remove the hardened polymer. The maintenance process was time-consuming, often causing unintended damage to the vapour control equipment.
Protectoseal recommended an end-of-line pressure/ vacuum conservation vent offered with its PROSHIELD coating option. The coating was applied to all wetted surfaces with the primary objective of controlling or reducing polymer formation.
The trial unit was successfully field-tested for over 10 months and exhibited little to no build-up during that period. The PROSHIELD coating option helped the client significantly reduce their maintenance costs and completely eliminated unnecessary replacements. Overall, the solution facilitated the achievement of a safer storage tank operation.
Jansen van Vuuren explains that PROSHIELD offers two value propositions to the end-user: enhancing process safety as well as lowering maintenance and overall operating costs. “In the styrene monomer storage application, polymerisation often results in unwanted material build-up on the vapour control equipment – hindering its proper operation,” she says.
In the most extreme case, ‘runaway polymerisation’ can result in the temperature inside the tank reaching the boiling point of the styrene; if the vapour control equipment is not functioning properly, enough pressure could build to rupture the tank.
“The maintenance required for the removal of the hardened styrene is a time consuming, manual process which, if not executed properly, often results in unintended damage to the vent itself. The overall cost to properly maintain this equipment under these unfavourable operating conditions can be a significant concern. With the arrival of the new PROSHIELD, this is a problem of the past,” concludes Jansen van Vuuren.