09272016Tue
Last updateTue, 27 Sep 2016 7pm

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The Critical Stem Nut: Who is Responsible for Maintenance?

The Critical Stem Nut: Who is Responsible for Maintenance?

One of the most important components of ...

An Alternative Basics Education: Valve Ed Comes to You!

An Alternative Basics Education: Valve Ed Comes to You!

For the first time in the seven-year his...

Give Your Flow Meter a Happy Home

Give Your Flow Meter a Happy Home

Increased emphasis on the need to improv...

What’s in Store for the Construction Market?

What’s in Store for the Construction Market?

As was the case with many of the present...

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Industry Headlines

Wolseley Reports 2016 Full Year Results

-1 DAYS AGO

Wolseley plc delivered an improvement in overall results for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2016, up 8.5% from last year. Revenue of $18.7 billion was 4.2% ahead at constant exchange rates and 2.4% ahead on a like-for-like basis. Price deflation, particularly in the U.S., reduced revenue by 1.5%. Imp...

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ValvTechnologies Joins MSS of the Valve and Fittings Industry Committee

1 HOUR AGO

ValvTechnologies, Inc. has been unanimously approved for membership in the Manufacturers Standardization Society (MSS) of the Valve and Fittings Industry Committee. Representing ValvTechnologies is Tony Majka, director of engineering.

The MSS is a non-profit technical association organized for develo...

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Alaska, ConocoPhillips Forming LNG Joint Venture

20 HOURS AGO

The State of Alaska, through the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC), and ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc. have executed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding negotiations to form a joint venture (JV) that could facilitate marketing LNG from the Alaska LNG project to global LNG markets and acqui...

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Many Houston Chemical Facilities Could Be Operating Illegally

20 HOURS AGO

“Firefighters once routinely visited buildings in their districts to plan for emergencies — including ferreting out hazmat sites — but those visits stopped in April 2014. The department had started entering old plans into a new, sophisticated database and didn't want to create a ba...

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U.S. Consumer Confidence Surges to Nine-Year High

1 HOUR AGO

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had increased in August, improved further in September. The Index now stands at 104.1, up from 101.8 in August. The 104.1 figure is the highest since August 2007.

“Consumer confidence increased in September for a second consecutive month and i...

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Texas Manufacturing Strengthened in September

1 HOUR AGO

Texas factory activity increased markedly in September, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey . The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, rose 12 points to 16.7, suggesting output picked up at a notably faster pace this month...

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The Biopharm Industry

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This segment of the chemical processing industry must deal with levels of cleanability and sterility that will ensure the safety of those who use or make the products.

As the world’s populations grow and age, developing countries expectations rise and new research brings new health solutions to the world, the biopharmaceutical (biopharm) industry flourishes. Like all chemical processing, biopharm has its own set of standards, special processing needs and challenges in materials and design.


THE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY

At its most general level, one can define the chemical industry as the aggregate of entities engaged in processing raw materials using chemical reactions (often aided by pressure and/or forms of energy such as heat) to convert those materials into products. That general level has numerous subgroups, such as biopharmaceutical, organic/inorganic chemicals, industrial gases, petrochemicals, agrochemicals, polymers and paints. These subgroups are categorized further by the end-product goods and commodities such as dyes, acids, alcohols, fertilizers, hydrogen, nitrogen, herbicides, ammonia, soaps, detergents, hair sprays, enamels, varnishes and many more.

Commonly, the processes required to manufacture these products use constituents or conversion enablers that are toxic, or they result in products and byproducts that may be toxic themselves. The inputs and outputs to those processes can present additional challenges because of physical and chemical properties that can make media extremely corrosive or abrasive. Also, the media can be difficult to propagate and control throughout the process flow in situations where physical/chemical properties result in media that is semi-solid.

In each segment of the industry and in every subcategory of these segments, valves play a critical role. A variety of valves are appropriate for various applications and deployed for handling different types of media. Covering the entire industry is too great a task for one article. Therefore, the information that follows highlights where and how valves are used in chemical processing for the biopharm market.


THE MARKET

The biopharm industry can be divided into two segments: Pharmaceutical, which uses chemical processes to manufacture therapeutic and health-related products; and biotechnology (biotech), which uses living organisms and biological processes to create products used in many fields such as pharmacology, medicine, agriculture and many others. A primary example is therapeutic protein used for medical and therapeutic applications. Most biotech applications involve cell cultures of genetically modified organisms including yeasts, insect cells, bacteria cells or mammalian cells.

A full range of pumps, valves and instrumentation comparable to other processing systems can be used in the biopharm industry. However, stringent requirements regarding cleanability and materials of construction mean that some products that perform ordinary and useful flow control functions in other applications must either be used with great caution or not used at all. An example is check valves. Check valves are installed tentatively because even sanitary check valves allow formation of “dead areas,” despite the fact they are functioning according to specifications. Such areas potentially harbor contaminants or toxic agents.

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