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How BioGas Sightglass Keeps an Eye on Green Energy

     Say green energy, and the first words that spring to most minds are likely either solar power or wind power. But there’s another important player in the alternative energy marketplace─biogas generation.

     Biogas is produced when organic matter breaks down in the absence of oxygen. It’s produced by anaerobic digestion by bacteria or fermentation of biodegradable materials such as manure, sewage, municipal waste, or plant material. Like solar and wind power, it’s a renewable energy source. It can be used as a fuel in a variety of applications; when cleaned and compressed, it can power motor vehicles.

     In the United States, anaerobic digesters for farm animal waste are typically large, heated stainless steel tanks fitted with tightly sealed sight glass windows to allow operators to monitor mixing and digestion to ensure efficient operation. These biogas sight glasses are often equipped with explosion-proof LED lighting and cameras, as well as spray nozzles and wipers to keep the window clean despite the often-messy process material. To learn more about what goes into matching the sight glass to the application, watch our new video: “Biogas Sight Glass Use and Selection.”

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What Makes Metaglas® Super Strong?

“Learn the Secret of Sight Glass Strength” is a recent video from L.J. Star that outlines the precision process of fusing borosilicate glass to a stainless steel ring, then cooling it carefully to create a Metaglas® sight glass window. Once the process is complete, the ring compresses the glass continuously, which gives it its exceptional tensile strength, preventing dangerous ruptures or fragmentation for greater reliability and safety. By combining the transparency of glass with the strength of steel, Metaglas virtually eliminates the possibility of a sudden, unexpected rupture, and any crack that might develop, at worst, may slightly affect visibility. In addition to the unsurpassed pressure and impact resistance, the metal frame provides rigidity to prevent breakage if bolts are tightened unevenly during installation. Metaglas products have been tested and approved by safety testing departments of several major chemical and other companies under a variety of conditions, most exceeding those normally encountered in practice.

No Metaglas window has ever been known to fail in service, even those subjected to significant overpressure and/or temperature surges. That high strength in extreme conditions has made Metaglas is the top selling fused sight glass, proven in thousands of installations around the world. Unlike some other sight glasses, it meets stringent DIN 7079 and DIN 7080 quality standards, and has been tested and proven to meet the USP Type 1 standard. To get all the details, watch the video at: http://www.sightglassblog.com/blog/08.html.

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Are You a Smooth Operator?

     For a process engineer, being smooth means more than knowing which wine to order in a fancy restaurant. In plant operations, the surface finish of a process vessel, piping, and related components can have profound effects on how well a fluid system performs. Surface roughness can affect fluid flow resistance (friction), adsorption/ desorption, bacteria growth, the build-up of chemicals from a process fluid, corrosion formation, pressure drop, etc. Ultimately, the smoothness of a surface finish can affect service life and maintenance costs. In a sight glass, for example, the surface roughness of both the glass and the metal mounting ring are critical for achieving a good seal in the installation.

     Increasingly stringent specifications are creating greater demand for improved surface finish on most metal components that are part of process equipment. In particular, the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries require surfaces in contact with the process media to have finishes that meet the ASME-BPE-2009 Standard. This standard provides specifications for the design, manufacture and acceptance of vessels, piping and related components for application in equipment used by the bioprocessing, pharmaceutical, and personal care product industries. This standard includes aspects related to sterility and cleanability, materials, dimensions and tolerances, surface finish, material joining, and seals.

     To learn about techniques commonly used to reduce the surface roughness of metals used in fluid vessels, piping, and related components, request your free copy of the L.J. Star white paper, Surface Finish: An Important Characteristic in Fluid System Components.

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What’s Lurking in Your Plants’ Pipes?

Any plant operator can tell you that an innocent-looking set of pipes can conceal nasty secrets, some as petrifying as the monster hiding in the plumbing in a Harry Potter movie. A sight flow indicator is a good way to discover what’s lurking within.

These simple, low-cost devices provide a visual means of verifying liquid flow for direction and approximate rate, and also to observe the color and clarity of process fluids. The body of a sight flow indicator is equipped with one or more viewing windows, usually with gaskets, and a way to mount the indicator to the pipeline, such as a flanged, threaded, or sanitary clamp fitting. They are available to fit standard pipe sizes ranging from ¼-inch to 16 inches and carry ANSI pressure ratings.

Sight flow indicators are applicable to almost every phase of process media movement, whether the media is liquid, gas or powder. Here are some examples:

  • In the processing of bulk solids such as plastic resins, inorganic powders, and food products, sight flow indicators make it possible to observe blending and confirm the free flow of materials.
  • Sight flow indicators allow personnel to inspect pipelines for residue, scale, and foreign matter, especially during cleaning routines.
  • For pipes carrying steam, sight flow indicators can be used to alert personnel to the presence of condensate so they can take steps to eliminate it.
  • A chemical processing system often involves a number of pipelines used to move liquid product though cooling lines, filters, and transfer/pumping lines. Sight flow indicators let operators observe line conditions for signs of clogging or blinding filters.
  • In discrete manufacturing, machines depend on adequate lubrication to operate smoothly. Equipment with sight flow indicators allows maintenance personnel to detect the absence of oil and to inspect the color of the oil, which may indicate it needs to be changed.

The first step in choosing the right sight flow indicator for a specific application is to define the process to be observed, including temperature, pressure, the physical characteristics of the process media, the direction of flow, and the process’s sanitary requirements (if any). To learn more about what’s involved, download a free copy of L.J. Star’s Sight Flow Indicators Handbook: Selection and Application of Sight Flow Indicators in Process Applications.

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