Gas filling achieves new highs for productivity and accuracy thanks to valvesNovember 24, 2014 REDWIRE is news you can use from leading suppliers. Powered by FRASERS.
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At the Norco gas filling plant in Boise, Idaho, gas filling has taken on a whole new meaning.
The 53,000-sq.-ft. plant houses an automated gas fill system by Weldcoa, and a 1,250-sq.-ft. research lab for Norco’s specialty gases line NorLab. It was designed using hundreds of CPV Manufacturing FloMaster Air-Operated Valves and CPV O-Seal Valves and fittings. And because this plant fills cylinders with many different types of high pressure gases, CPV valves and fittings were specified due to their proven leak-proof performance and operating reliability.
”The valves,” according to Weldcoa's chief engineer, Carl Schmidt, ”were specified in the needle valve configuration because with high pressure gases, 3,000 psi and above, valves were preferred to be opened slowly in a controlled manner.”
Inside the plant are two double-sided palletized fill islands with 13 fill heads capable of handling as many as 10 cylinder pallets at one time. Half of the fill islands are fully automated and the other half are manually operated.
Gases from the plant's main cryogenic tanks are directly pumped into cylinders and also transferred and pressurized continuously during the day into separate exterior ground storage tanks. Each cryogenic tank has two high pressure pumps associated with it — one to primarily fill cylinders at the islands and one to pressurize and refill each ground storage tank. These separate ground storage tanks provide the pressurized gases that run most of the specialty gases filled in NorLab, the industrial gas blend cell and small medical oxygen cylinders. A motor control centre both automates and controls the gases being pressurized at the auto-fill island and to the exterior ground storage tanks. This automated control centre has the capability of routing the discharge of each of the two cryo pumps to either the island filling or to the ground storage. It is also able to be programmed to combine both pumps to a single process in the event of heavy use such as tube trailer filling. This hybrid system was designed to eliminate waiting for product availability throughout different fill areas in the plant.
The Boise plant does a lot of helium filling for use by labs and welding operations. To keep up with the volume, helium from tube trailers is transferred and pressurized to 3,000 psi during the night when the plant is closed, and controlled by the automated compressor control panel. The helium is transferred into four exterior ground storage tanks at the site. This extra pressurization/transfer and top-filling step makes the helium ready for automated filling by morning when the plant reopens. The pre-pressurization step of all Norco gases dramatically boosts the plant's filling productivity at the fill island. For example, a 20-cylinder pallet of helium can be automatically filled in about seven minutes, versus 20 to 30 minutes if the gases were being filled directly by a compressor.
”FloMaster valves inside the plant, on the fill island, plus the FloMaster valves outside the plant on the ground storage tanks, which are subjected to extreme Idaho winter weather conditions, have all performed flawlessly since installation,” says Goicoechea.