Engineering a new solution for bitumen pumping

Specialist engineering and out-of-the-box thinking were the driving forces behind the pumps at a new bitumen storage facility in NSW. Viking N323E electrically heated internal gear pumps were chosen for the site, and became the first Australian supply to be fitted with double mechanical seals.

Cost benefits of electric heating

Kelair Pumps Australia Industrial Sales Engineer (NSW), Tim Howell, said the electrically heated internal gear pumps were critical to operation at the facility and provide a range of benefits to pump operators. This is because electric heat, available on the Viking Universal Seal series cast iron pumps, can be used as an alternative to heating with hot oil or steam.

“First and foremost, electric heating lowers installation costs in remote locations when steam or hot oil is not an option,” Mr Howell said.

“It also provides savings in energy, as the heat source is within the pump rather than external heat tracing of a jacketed pump.”

Mr Howell said electric heat also reduces environmental costs, improves safety of the pump and makes them easier to service.

“This is due to there being no hot oil or steam pipe connections to look after, and therefore no hot steam or oil leaks.”

Overcoming site challenges

These pumps were chosen for the bitumen storage facility because they addressed the specific challenges of the site.

“Bitumen pumps are typically sealed with gland packing, but the problem with gland packing is that leakage is unavoidable, and can increase over time,” Mr Howell said.

“In contrast, mechanical seals offer a leak-free, clean and high spec solution, and this is exactly what the owner of the facility was after.

“However, this did present a challenge. To prevent the bitumen from solidifying, both the pump and mechanical seal needed to be kept hot whereas the lubricant between the seal faces needed to be kept cool.”

Mr Howell said Kelair worked closely with the pump manufacturer, seal manufacturer, engineering consultant and end user to overcome these challenges.

“The big advantage of working with Kelair Pumps is our team’s ability to provide engineered pump solutions tailored specifically to the requirements of the site given our wide range of equipment and close relationship with manufacturers,” Mr Howell said.

Why choose electric heat?

To melt solid material like bitumen in the pump prior to startup, Viking pumps are available with traditional jacketing to circulate steam or hot oil, or with built-in electric heat cartridges.

Electric heat cartridges offer a number of advantages over steam, heat transfer oils or electric heat tracing, including:

  • Precise temperature control to just above melting point, compared to steam or hot oil which use higher temperatures to compensate for heat loss through long piping runs
  • Allows specific temperatures for specific products, eliminating the need for separate heating systems
  • Minimizes energy use as heaters shut off when setpoint is reached compared with steam or hot oil in constant circulation
  • Eliminates heat loss on long steam or hot oil piping runs to remote pumps
  • Eliminates the possibility of heat transfer oil leakage
  • Eliminates the possibility of cracked jackets due to steam condensate freezing.

For more information on Viking electrically heated pumps, please contact the Kelair Pumps Australia on 1300 789 466.

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