How a Fire at a Lubricants Plant Sparked Innovation

Problem:

In 2003, Armour Valve received an urgent call regarding a fire that had taken place in a customer’s lubricants plant. The plant had been offline since the August blackouts that left millions in Ontario and the northeastern United States without power. When the plant was brought back online, a pipe rupture caused an explosion and fire.

Exposure to extreme temperatures led to the failure of several globe valves, 26 of which could be salvaged. The plant had been using the same valve throughout their facility for years. The valves were originally used in steam generation/boiler applications that did not require them to meet the API 6FA high-temperature standard called for by other applications within the plant.

Armour Valve’s Service Manager, Mike Huston, visited the plant to inspect the damaged valves. It was determined that the yoke bushings had melted due to the extreme heat of the fire. 

 

North American 2003 blackout
Over 50 million people were without power in 2003

The extreme heat led to the expansion of the yokes which caused the valve to leak and further feed the fire

Mike Huston Service manager

Solution:

The valve yokes were removed and they were brought back to the Armour Valve repair facility. As a temporary solution, the bushings were upgraded to a more heat resistant ductile iron. They were returned to the plant in under 3 weeks.

The plant changed their specification to require a valve that meets the API 6FA standard. Armour Valve, Conval, and the plant collaborated to develop a valve that met their requirement.

Correct material selection is crucial when dealing with chemical and petrochemical applications, both for the longevity of the valve and for safety in the event of an emergency.

Impact

The result of this collaboration was the Conval Clampseal Fire-Safe valve which is an API 6FA-rated Fire Safe valve. The new design:

  • Can be retrofitted onto existing in-service valves without incurring downtime
  • Is ideal for plants where fire safety is a major concern
  • Is in-line repairable making it a low cost of ownership option over the serviceable life of the valve

The plant now only purchases Conval Clampseal Fire-Safe Valves for these applications.

Conval Fire-Safe valve
Conval Fire-Safe Valves are ideal for plants where fire safety is a major concern

“The excellent response provided by your staff helped us all to meet the challenges required to practically re-build a complete process unit in record time. The people at Armour Valve should be proud of their accomplishment. ” 

Maintenance Manager, Lubricants Plant