Technical Topic of the Month

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This Valve Will Evacuate The Air From Your System Without The Risk Of Product Loss – Discussion with Tim Gorrell ( Top Line Application Engineer)

The Top Line TOP-FLO® TL60ARV air relief valve is a great way to evacuate the air from your system without the risk of product loss.

The valve will not allow air to enter into the line or container under vacuum but will automatically let air escape when you’re introducing product. Some of the applications for this valve include, but are not limited to, mounting it on top of a pipe line at high points in the line where air may get trapped and cause air/vapor lock, on top of the suction line prior to a pump to aid in priming the pump, and even on top of a vessel to evacuate the air during the filling operation. Top Line’s TL60ARV air relief valve has a maximum pressure rating of 150 psi @ 275° F. The material of construction is 316L stainless steel body, polypropylene ball, FKM elastomers with 304 stainless steel clamps. The standard finish is 32Ra ID/OD. The valve base comes in 1-1/2”, 2”, and 2-1/2” tri-clamp.

The valve must be mounted in the vertical position in order for it to work properly and the product density must be 1.0 or higher. If you’re designing a system and would like advice in the proper use or position for this valve, please contact us and we would be happy to help you.

“New” Inoxpa RF Flexible Impeller Pump – Discussion with Brad Gregg ( Top Line Sales Engineer)

The Inoxpa RF flexible impeller pump is a self-priming pump designed to transfer both thin fluids and viscous fluids with and without suspended particulates. The neoprene impeller with flexible vanes is an excellent choice for transferring dairy products, edible oils, wine, wine must, concentrates, and beverages. This pump can also be used with viscous food products such as jam and marmalade, custard, as well as cosmetic products such as soap, gel, toothpaste, and creams. This pump is also used in the dying, textile and chemical industries.

The RF pump is available with two drive options: standard motor and gear motor types. The standard motor type is intended to only be used when fluid is to be transferred in one direction. The gear motor type can move product in both directions with the use of a variable frequency drive (VFD). Maximum suction lift of 16′ can also be achieved dependent on the pump size.

Due to the simple design of the RF pump, it is easily cleaned manually by removing the four front cover bolts. Optional stainless steel portable pump carts are also available for easy mobility around your process area.

Flexible Impeller PumpMore information on RF Flexible Impeller Pump

What is A Sanitary Ball Type Check Valve and How does it Work? Discussion with Brad Gregg ( Top Line Sales Engineer)

Ball type check valves are one of the styles of check valves used for low viscosity fluid backflow prevention in a sanitary piping system. A variety of typical applications where a Top Line ball check valve would be found in a sanitary system are water, CIP, raw and finished milk, soft drink, and fruit juice. This style of valve depends on downstream fluid back pressure to seat the ball into the internal inlet area of the valve which prevents reverse flow when there is no inlet fluid or pressure.

What is an advantage of using a ball type vs. a disc type check valve?

Unlike a disc type check valve, the advantage of a ball type check valve is that the fluid flow path is unrestricted. When there is fluid flow, the ball is pushed into the enlarged “Y” portion of the body and out of the way of the fluid stream. This feature reduces the pressure drop created across the valve when the elevated flow rates (i.e. during a CIP cycle to create turbulent flow) are required.

Why use a Top Line Sanitary ball check valve?

  • The valve carries the 3-A certification so it can be used in USDA inspected dairy applications.
  • The 2-piece body design allows for the elastomer seat to be easily replaced if damaged or worn.
  • FDA conforming FKM elastomer seat & seal to handle harsh CIP chemicals.
  •  The solid virgin PTFE ball eliminates the possibility of delamination of an elastomer ball covering as found in many competitor ball check valve designs
  • Traceability available for all 316L wetted components.
  • Readily available seal and full repair kits for regularly scheduled maintenance.
  • Standard size clamp end for air blow check valve installation.

Click here for information on ball check valves

What is the Benefit of Electropolishing with Top Line’s Technical Team

Electropolishing is the greatest form of passivation on stainless steel. Electropolishing removes surface metal by attacking high points on the surface. This process makes the surface smoother while eliminating contaminants which results in a clean and sterile surface. Electropolishing is intended to reduce corrosion and extend the life of the product.

Food and beverage process equipment, tubing and pipe, medical equipment, and heat exchangers are just a few of the products that benefit from electropolishing. The smoother surface finish derived from the electropolishing process will naturally reduce the collection of processed materials and contaminants on the product contact surfaces. The equipment will clean faster and more effectively using a smaller volume of cleaning products. It saves downtime expenses, cleaning materials, and disposal of cleaning products if environmentally controlled near your facility.

After electropolishing, the appearance of the surface finish is a bright and smooth polish with a great light reflection showing clarity of the item. Although the better physical appearance is pleasant to view, the more important benefit is the corrosion resistance. Corrosion resistance is created by the passive layer created on the surface of the metal from the electropolishing process. Free iron is removed from the surface of the metal.

Work has begun to To Revise 3-A Sanitary Standard to New General Requirements with Tom Nicola (3-A Work Group Member & Top Line Application Engineer)

After a two year stand still, work has begun to convert existing 3-A equipment-specific standards to reference the new General Requirements criteria. Eventually, all current 3-A Sanitary Standards and Accepted Practices will be revised to the new format with the General Requirements listed as a normative reference.

3-A SSI recently announced the release of “ANSI/3-A 00-00-2014, 3-A Sanitary Standards for General Requirements.” The new General Requirements Standards was approved by American National Standards Institute as an American National Standard on September 8, 2014. The General Requirements Standard is a valuable reference for the entire range of food and beverage industries, where many upgrades in hygienic equipment design are expected for the prevention of food-borne illness.

The new standard covers the sanitary design, materials of construction, and fabrication techniques for dairy, food, and beverage equipment used to process, handle, and package consumable products where a high degree of sanitation is required.

How to select a Top Line Sanitary Butterfly Valve discussion with Brad Gregg (BPE Committee Member & Top Line Sales Engineer)

Sanitary butterfly valves are a good alternative to more expensive valves for use with fluids that are not intended to be used on USDA dairy products. Due to the butterfly valve’s simple design it’s easy to maintain with minimal parts involved during servicing. Sanitary butterfly valves are typically found in applications that have a low internal line pressure (less than 145 PSIG). They can be utilized as either shut-off or throttling valves depending on the controls or top works applied to the valve itself. Top Line offers three different types of sanitary butterfly valves to better service industry specific applications.

TOP-FLO® Value

The Value type butterfly valve is a low cost, 2-piece manual valve alternative, specifically for the micro or craft brewery industry and also for smaller wine production facilities. The multi-position thermoplastic/stainless steel trigger style handle is well suited for both shut-off and manual throttling capability.

TOP-FLO® Standard

The Standard type butterfly valve is an option oriented, mid-range priced, 2 piece valve that is well suited for most fluid process applications. The key to the standard type valve is its ability to be customizable with a full range of both manual handle and automation options.

Premium – Definox

The Premium type butterfly valve is a heavy duty style valve that is available in both standard 2-piece and 3-piece “between flange” type. The 3-piece type allows for even greater ease during maintenance, and is more forgiving with slight misalignment issued during installation. Multiple manual handle options allow the user to control the valve in several ways. The automated version comes standard with a heavy duty, long life, vertical stainless steel pneumatic actuator.

When properly selecting a sanitary butterfly valve, several points should be considered.

  • What is the fluid? This will assist in determining the chemical resistance of the seal material required.
  • What is the fluid temperature and internal line pressure? Since sanitary butterfly valves have low seat holding pressure, this information will assist you in determining if a sanitary butterfly valve is the right option for your application.
  • What is the required operation of the valve – manual or automated? If the valve is manual, all three butterfly types may work for your application. If the valve is automated, your choice is limited to Standard and Premium types.
  • Is the on/off cycle frequency of the automated style valve high? Consideration should be made to select either the Standard type with rack & pinion actuator or the Premium type with heavy duty pneumatic actuator.

Not sure which butterfly valve best suits your application?

Our sales and technical staff can help!

Contact us Today! Download the butterfly brochure

BioClean™ BPE Fittings – What is the significance of controlled sulfur content for BPE fittings? discussion with Carlyle Conn (BPE Committee Member)

The growth of the biopharmaceutical industry has led to the increasing emphasis of quality standards for the design, construction and validation of process systems and facilities. Bioprocessing Equipment Standard (BPE-14) states welding for a sterile environment shall not result in a surface that will contribute to microbiological growth and contamination of the product.

The ability to make a repeatable, smooth, crevice-free inner weld bead has led to orbital welding being the preferred material joining technique for biopharmaceutical industry. Weldability problems are found with 316L stainless steel with low sulfur content in the base metal, and may occur in the mid-range or higher sulfur concentrations. When parts being welded have different surface active elements, most specifically sulfur, phenomena called “pool shift” can occur. The lower sulfur content on one side of the joint can have a stronger tension than the higher sulfur side, causing the pool to be drawn to one side of the joint. Although a full penetration of the weld can still occur, the weld bead can miss the joint leaving the inner diameter unconsumed.

Sulfur is present in steel as an impurity and affects weldability to a much greater extent than other trace elements. It is certainly impractical to match sulfur contents exactly, or require the same heat of material for joining. However, through empirical evidence, the biopharmaceutical industry has determined an acceptable range of sulfur content between 0.005% and 0.017%. This range eliminates the lowest range of sulfur content that may be difficult to weld, and the highest end of the range which may result in a rougher weld bead.

Top Line provides certified BPE fittings in ranges from ½” to 4” in exact compliance with BPE dimensions, tolerances, surface finish and required sulfur content for repeatable high quality orbital welding results.

Learn more about BPE Fittings

Pump Seals in Brewery Process Applications – discussion with Jim McCormick (Applications and Technical Sales Engineer)

The recent surge in growth of the Craft Brewing industry has brought about many new opportunities. It has also brought with it some challenges especially when speaking about the seal. Many of today’s brewers are batching at very high temperatures and an unwitting customer may overlook this and use Buna-N Rubber gaskets and O-Rings. Buna begins to break down at around 190 °F. At Top Line, we strongly recommend FKM elastomer materials.Another obstacle is the ingredients used in today’s beers and ales. Any type of abrasive elements like coffee, cocoa, spices and such can become trapped between the sealing surfaces and can compromise the carbon rotating element and the stationary surface in a very short time.When transferring wort to the fermenter, you may see an excessive amount of a gooey substance that looks a lot like caramel around the sealing area. This is likely to be sugars. When it cools and hardens, the white residue of crystalized sugars will then appear. Sugars are produced by the malt during the mash process and are an important by-product of brewing. When it cools, the sugar crystallizes and, in effect, glues the carbon rotating element to the stationary surface. When the pump is re started, the initial torque is going to break that binding loose and occasionally it cracks or breaks the carbon.This can be solved with the Water Cascade assembly. This option gives the user the ability to dribble a very low flow to the seal to cool it and lubricate it. In addition, it helps to clean the seal of sticky substances when the pump shuts down. These substances tend to cake, or crystalize when cooled down. Our C-Series Pumps are available with our “DG” Seal option, which is comprised of a Silicon Carbide Stationary Seat vs. Carbon Rotating Element and is standard with FKM elastomer. This combination will allow for higher temperatures and the ability to pump small abrasive and / or sticky ingredients. The Water Cascade and the “DG Seal options are only available on models TF-C114 through TF-C328. As with most sanitary centrifugal pumps, our pumps should never be allowed to run dry.Please note: Neither the Water Flush Assembly, nor the “DG” Seal are available on the model TF-C100 Pump.

Pictures below show seal from brewery with sugar buildup, and water flush assembly.

The Heart and Soul of Automated Flow Control Valves – discussion with Tom Nicola (Applications Engineer at Top Line)

The heart and soul of the TOP-FLO® DCX3 and DCX4 Automated Flow Control Valves are the plug seal and O-ring seals. At Top Line, sanitary process equipment is our business. The components in our TOP-FLO®DCX Seat Valves are manufactured of FDA compliant compounds which are held to the highest standards for use in the production of food, beverage, pharmaceuticals, BioPharm and cosmetics.

Our sales and technical staffs take the time and ask the right questions when selecting the optimum sanitary seals and O-rings for specific applications. First, we must have an understanding of the total process environment. It is important to consider the product or solution passing through the valve, its temperature and chemical composition. We must also learn what cleaning and sterilization processes are employed at the facility, and the physical properties and chemical resistance of the sanitizing solution. This knowledge assists us in selecting the correct elastomeric compound for a specific process, by cross checking all of the information with a chemical resistance chart. Click here for more information about elastomeric compounds.

Overcoming Over-pressure Situations – discussion with Tom Nicola (Applications Engineer at Top Line)

The TOP-FLO® DCX3 adjustable relief valve is an innovative solution for protecting piping and equipment from damage do to pump over-pressure situations and unexpected pressure spikes in the food, dairy, beverage, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical industries.The sanitary design allows the user to adjust the desired cracking pressure by turning the fine thread adjusting nut on top of the actuator with a standard wrench.These TOP-FLO® DCX3 adjustable relief valves are clean-in-place (CIP) without having to over pressurize the system to open the valve. Just supply air to the actuator to open.

Instructions Specific To Correctly Positioning The Drive Collar on a TOP-FLO® C-Series Centrifugal Pump – discussion with Jim McCormick (Applications and Technical Engineer at Top Line)

Step 1: Before beginning, follow your company’s lock-out/tag-out procedure. Wear proper PPE. Reference the Top Line maintenance manual online for additional safety precautions and technical information at Step 2: Insert the O-ring into the carbon (no lubricant). Install the spring, cup and carbon w/O-ring onto the drive collar to create one assembly and slide it onto the stub shaft. Be sure that the “slot” in the cup aligns with the “pin” on the drive collar. Step 3: Install back plate, casing, and casing gasket and secure with casing clamp. Step 4: Slide the drive collar & seal assembly forward to the back plate until it pushes the carbon/O-ring tight up against the back plate. Now back the drive collar away from the back plate, a distance of approximately 1/32” (.79mm) and tighten the set screws. Step 5: Remove the casing and back plate. If this procedure is done properly, the pump shaft should rotate by hand. If it does rotate, or requires a lot of effort, check to ensure all components are installed and the drive collar is positioned properly.

If you’re working with a “DG” seal, assemble the PTFE gaskets, seal seat, gland ring, and secure to the back plate by uniformly tightening the cap screws. Note: The PTFE inboard (80R) and outboard (80P) gaskets are different thicknesses. The thicker gasket (80R) must always be installed on the impeller side to prevent contact between the impeller hub and the stationary seal.

Too Much Information? Not When Selecting Pumps – discussion with Jim McCormick (Application and Technical Engineer at Top Line)

Too much information, or TMI as it’s called in social circles, is a slang term meaning ” I really didn’t need to know that”. It’s used a million times a day in legal speak, on Twitter and at the cooler in your office, but it’s never used by the people who size your pumps. Top Line utilizes several tools which assist us in selecting and sizing the correct pump for a specific need, including pump sizing programs, calculations and conversion software and well over a hundred years of experience and knowledge in our sales and technical engineering departments.The first task in sizing the proper pump is to obtain as much information about the client’s application as possible. Let’s review some of the data we request and why it’s important.Fluid Information will assist in selecting which pump is best suited, Centrifugal, Rotary Lobe or Circumferential Piston Pump.Temperature is critical to selecting the right seals and elastomers. In the case of Positive Displacement Pumps, it could also determine whether or not thermal expansion will occur, in which case, undersized rotors would come into play.Viscosity is crucial information to the determination of what type of pump to use. Higher viscosity liquids won’t move with a centrifugal pump and extremely high fluids may even cause suction problems which need to be considered.Specific Gravity is necessary in determining pump model selection as well as power required to run it.

Flow Rate is helpful because in certain environments like breweries, for example, there may be a need to run the pump at a lower speed to prevent damage to the product, but require a high speed for CIP (clean in place). This is accomplished with the use of an AC inverter, also known as a VFD (Variable Frequency Drive).

Discharge and Suction Pressures must be calculated to get proper performance. This is why we ask questions like line size, total feet, both vertical and horizontal, number of elbows, presense of spray balls, filters, heat exchangers, etc. All of these factors combined tell us the friction loss in the application and is considered and converted into TDH, or total head-in-feet. The souce of the liquid entering the pump inlet, like from an open tank, is important to determine if it will be adequately fed to the pump.

Seal Type is an important decision for the long term performance and reliability of the pump based on your application. Is the fluid tacky and/or abrasive? Does it crystalize when cooled? Single mechanical or double mechanical, carbon or silicon carbide material. Buna, EPDM or FKM? We will help you make the right choice!

Power Requirement accuracy is essential and we will determine the horsepower and speed requirements for you. What is often left unknows or unspecified is what type of motor enclosure is required. We offer Premium Efficient TEFC, wash down, stainless steel wash down, or explosion proof enclosures as well as special service motors like 575volt and 50Hz power.

To help you select a pump now, we created a “Pump Application Data Worksheet” which addresses all the elements listed above. Once completed, we will have the information needed to prepare “your pump”, specific to “your needs.”

Click here to download the worksheet. If you need assistance, please go to our website or contact one of our experienced employees.

Controlled Sulfur Content – Why? – discussion with Brad Gregg (BPE Member and Top Line Engineer)

Controlled sulfur content of 316L BPE fittings and other components is just one of the critical aspects of creating both consistent and quality orbital welds within a high purity tube system. BPE 2012 section MM-5.1.1 specifically states that components intended to be autogenously welded shall have a sulfur content of 0.005-0.017%. The restriction of the sulfur range of components intended to be orbital welded assist in the prevention of arc deflection which is important for proper penetration and weld pooling. Maintaining a narrow range of sulfur content also assists the weld machine operator during field installation since they can set up their orbital welding machine and make repeatable quality welds without making major adjustments to compensate for base material inconsistencies.

What makes a MPTFE faced diaphragm “steam grade”? – discussion with Brad Gregg (BPE Member and Top Line Engineer)

Steam grade MPTFE faced diaphragms are manufactured in a specific way to increase their life expectancy under repeated SIP (Steam-In-Place) conditions that occur during bioburden control of a pharmaceutical system. Modified PTFE (MPTFE) is used for steam grade rated diaphragms in lieu of virgin PTFE due to its superior physical and mechanical properties. The finished MPTFE diaphragm face has both increased resistance to cold flow (deformation of the material itself under load), and the ability to withstand both intermittent and constant elevated temperatures due to SIP. Top Line MPTFE faced steam grade diaphragms are manufactured under a unique high pressure molding process that ensures a fully homogenous part and virtually eliminates the inherent micro-fissures that are found in traditional diaphragms that are simply molded straight from base resin. This unique manufacturing process ensures longevity during repeated automation, and the repeated exposure conditions of SIP. All Top Line MPTFE faced diaphragm grades 1KS, 1PS, and BK are steam grade and have been fully tested to resist SIP conditions.