HomeFeatures & AnalysisKSB Pumps and Valves to supply hi-tech pumps to Russian refinery

KSB Pumps and Valves to supply hi-tech pumps to Russian refinery

The contract grants KSB Pumps and Valves’ magnetic drive pumps to be used to pump potentially hazardous gas oil, Goudron and Mazout products.

The locally developed RPHmdp pumps were selected for their ability to completely separate the drive-ends from the wet-ends of the pumps which are in contact with the dangerous materials being circulated.

Instead, KSB’s RPHmdp pumps use separate magnetic drives to power the impellors and so negate the need for the traditionally used Plan 53 pumps.

The magnetic drive pumps require significantly less maintenance and are a safer option than the older Plan 53 pumps, which are complicated and require pressure regulated seals on either end of the pump to prevent hazardous liquids from leaking with potentially disastrous consequences.

The older pumps also require constant management and maintenance to ensure that they are 100% sealed and operational at all times.

Strict requirements

By contrast, KSB Pumps and Valves product manager, Jan van Vuuren, says the 18 locally developed RPHmdp pumps supplied for the project do not require seals and therefore do not need nearly as much maintenance nor supervision as the old type.

“In the case of the Russian Samara Transneft Refinery project, the deal was awarded to KSB Russia on merit of the advanced nature of the pumps, quality construction and the long-term ability of our global group to support and maintain the pumps within a mission critical environment,” says van Vuuren.

The pumps also needed to be specially manufactured to withstand extreme operating temperatures of between -70˚C and 380˚C, as well as withstand pressures of up to 40 Bar as per API requirements.

“This was vetted by our Russian counterparts who conducted an in-depth inspection of our manufacturing facility to ensure production of the highest quality would be met and that API standards were in place,” he adds.

In addition, KSB Russia representative, Vladimir Dragonman, also needed to be satisfied that the South African operation would be able to provide full back-up and support of the pumps whenever required.

“Needless to say, we far surpassed his expectations and he went back to Russia more eager than ever to continue with the deal,” says Dragonman .

He continues that another key reason why the refinery, one of the largest of its type in the world, chose RPHmdp pumps is due to the pumps’ good track record at a number of petrochemical companies throughout the world (including Sasol) where they are successfully using these pumps in place of the old Plan 53 pumps.

In Russia, and globally, the company has also sold hundreds of standard-type RPH pumps to the petrochemical industry and these have proven to be well supported throughout their lifespan by the company.

The popularity of magnetic drive pumps has also been spurred by stricter requirements of TÜV and other verification agencies for seal-less pumps to be used in chemical and petrochemical plants where potentially hazardous materials are being handled.

Moreover, the pumps are easily serviced, do not need constant supervision and have wet-ends that are fully interchangeable with the company’s standard RPH pumps making for commonality of spares and maintenance.

“With European standards calling for seal-less pumps and the movement towards simplicity, reliability and durability in the petrochemical and other industries, we are confident that the KSB RPHmdp will become the defacto pump wherever potentially hazardous materials are required to be pumped under difficult conditions,” van Vuuren concludes.

Specialised pump for world’s largest refinery

KSB Pumps and Valves locally has developed a unique and specialised pump for the pumping of the highly dangerous Isobutane with HF (Hydrofluoric Acid) on behalf of one of the world’s largest refineries, PCK Schwedt.

The chemical is regarded as one of the riskiest materials on earth to pump and called for special engineering to manufacture one of KSB Pumps and Valves special magnetic drive (RPHmdp) pumps entirely out of Monel, which is one of the few materials able to withstand the acidity of the Isobutane HF chemical.

Van Vuuren notes that monel is super tough and difficult to work with, as there are only a few people around the world who are prepared to try it, adding that it is tough to drill, difficult to machine and takes hours to perform the simplest machining.

However, in South Africa and in KSB Pumps and Valves manufacturing facilities in Germany, they are able to work with monel and are currently in the process of manufacturing the pump as specified.

“When finished it will cost twice the price of a standard magnetic drive pump as a result of the difficult manufacturing process, but this pales into insignificance if one were to try and manufacture the pump according to the traditionally used Plan 53 pump which requires double seals, pressure balanced valves and a number of other technical requirements to prevent the dangerous chemical from leaking,” van Vuuren says.

By comparison, the RPHmpd pump only exposes the wet-end of the pump to the chemical and the drive-end is completely separated.

This makes it safer and much more cost effective than Plan 53 pumps.