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Human Factors Can Cause a Disaster—or Prevent One

Human Factors Can Cause a Disaster—or Prevent One

Process industry plants are complex and ...

Improving Valve Sealing Performance and Reliability

Improving Valve Sealing Performance and Reliability

From time to time, we are re-posting wel...

A Primer on Fugitive Emissions

A Primer on Fugitive Emissions

Fourscore and seven years ago, no one ha...

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Industry Headlines

Industry Headlines

Emerson Expanding Mississippi Facility

3 DAYS AGO

Emerson plans on delivering $500,000 in new equipment to its facility in Sherman, MS. Because of this investment , and its promise of new jobs for the region, the Sherman Economic Development Corp. has approved $150,000 in grants for Emerson.

"We have a relatively new Fisher product that will be reloca...

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REXA and CCC Form Joint Initiative

3 DAYS AGO

REXA and Compressor Controls Corporation (CCC) have formed a joint initiative to modernize steam turbine controls for enhanced performance based upon each company’s core competency.

There are more than 10,000 turbomachinery trains worldwide powered by CCC. By upgrading mechanical and hydraulic go...

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Energy Transfer Partners Building New NGL Fractionation Facility

-1 DAYS AGO

Energy Transfer Partners’ subsidiary, Lone Star NGL LLC, will construct a fifth natural gas liquids (NGL) fractionation facility at Mont Belvieu, TX. The construction of Fractionator V is a result of the tremendous production growth in the Delaware and Permian Basins.

Fractionator V, including NG...

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Chevron and Pembina Sign Deal to Build Pipelines, Other Facilities

3 DAYS AGO

Calgary-based Pembina Pipeline Corp. has signed a 20-year deal with Chevron to build natural gas pipelines and processing facilities for a potential production operation in northwest Edmonton, Alberta. The infrastructure developed over the term of this agreement has the potential to represent a multi-...

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Kansas City Fed Survey Shows Regional Manufacturing Jump

-1 DAYS AGO

According to Chad Wilkerson, vice president and economist at the Kansas City Fed, the district’s February Manufacturing Survey revealed that manufacturing activity expanded further with continued strong expectations . The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City serves the tenth Federal Reserve Distr...

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U.S. Private Sector Growth Slows from January’s 14-Month Peak

3 DAYS AGO

At 54.3 in February, the seasonally adjusted Markit Flash U.S. Composite PMI Output Index dropped from 55.8 in January but remained above the 50.0 no-change value for the twelfth consecutive month. The latest reading signaled that private sector output growth moderated from the 14-month high recorded ...

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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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