Glass reactors and equipment are designed to be utilized for various chemical activities that involve chemicals such as specialty chemicals, pharmaceutical drugs, agricultural products, and polymers. This is because an advantage of glass is its ability to be resistant to the harsh effects of many chemicals such as corrosion. Its anti-stick surface makes it easy too clean and eliminates the risk of impurities entering the chemical activities it handles.
However, these glass reactors and equipment can be prone to many faults and defects that are usually due to manufacturing or mechanical problems and thermal shocks. These issues can be mitigated and avoided by following a rigorous safety procedure so that you and your personnel do not have to experience the consequences of dangerous glass reactor operations. Below are some examples of how you can ensure safety when handling glass reactors and equipment.
How To Ensure The Safety of Chemical Reactor?
1. Preventive Maintenance
The fundamental step for safety when handling chemical glass reactors is preventive maintenance. It is critical to practice this step because it inspects and identifies any signs of damage at an early stage.
This process begins by inspecting the glass reactor or equipment immediately upon delivery to detect whether it was damaged in transit. Hereafter, the reactor should be checked up at consistent periods and intervals of time and testings should be conducted to gauge whether or not there are damages.
External inspection is a crucial process in preventive maintenance. The following parts should be inspected under this inspection:
- Shell and Jacket
This includes all nozzles, cervices, joints, insulated and uninsulated areas.
- Inside the Jacket
This includes steel surfaces, clean-out ports, and nozzle impingement plates.
- Lifting Lugs and Supports
This includes welds.
The jacket may also undergo an ultrasonic thickness gauge which should be measured at the same locations in each subsequent inspection for accurate safety results.
It is important to remember that something as small as a scratch should be equally regarded as larger damages. This is because if scratches and other small damages are not repaired, the equipment may be harmed and other components of the equipment can corrode.
2. Spark Testing
As mentioned previously, safety tests of the equipment should be regularly conducted. One example of this is spark testing by applying electricity to the glass lining to detect any pinholes. This is done by first brushing the glass surface in a semi-circular motion, coating the whole surface. Should the brush detect a pinhole, current flows will be transmitted to the steel shell and arcing.
There are two types of spark testers: Direct Current (DC) testers or Alternating Current (AC) testers. While DC spark testers are used to probe vessel lining defects, AC spark testers are designed to check components completely encased in the glass. DC spark testers are designed to work for grounded products and are also known to be preferred methods as they are gentler and do not generate corona and heat. On the other hand, AC spark testers generate electrically conductive corona along with heat.
3. Monitor Glass Thickness
Glass thickness monitoring of a reactor is another critical component to take into account. One can accomplish this by making use of a magnetic coating thickness gauge which is applied to the surface of the glass. A magnetic instrument will be used to probe the surface of the glass and will send out a current. The time it takes to receive the feedback signal is an indication of the degree of glass thickness.
This test, however, should be conducted at the same locations for accurate safety results.
4. StatiFlux Testing
This type of test is conducted when the glass vessel has experienced mechanical or thermal stress to identify cracks that cannot be visually detected or spark testing. This is done by using electrically charged talc powder. It is applied to the surface of the glass which will affirm the presence of cracks.
In addition to the steps above, below is a general outline of the do’s and don’ts when handling glass-lined equipment:
Safety Considerations You Need To Pay Attention To When Using Chemical Glass Reactors:
1. Inspect the equipment upon arrival
2. Be aware of the vessel’s design limitations
3. Immediately flush spills with water
4. Neutralize surfaces after spills
5. Use plastic or PTFE-lined tools to scrape build-up of products
6. Wear clean rubber shoes when entering a vessel
1. Extend equipment operation over the vessel’s design limitations
2. Use spark testers not recommended by the manufacturer
3. Lean over a vessel with items in your shirt pocket
4. Charge materials through nozzles with filtering the contents prior
5. Weld components on the interior or exterior of the equipment
6. Leave a manway cover open as it can accidentally fall and damage the glass
Though this is a guideline for how you can ensure you and your personnel’s safety in handling glass reactors or equipment, it is important to remember that well-qualified technicians should conduct these inspections. Nonetheless, safety procedures are for everyone, and if you want to avoid any detrimental problems in the future, then you should practice these safety procedures, inspection programs, and tips in mind.