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Vacuum Systems: Recommendations For Safe Operation

By Stanley S. Grossel, Process Safety & Design Consultant |

This article is the first in a two-part series, in which the types of process vacuum equipment (steam ejector systems and mechanical vacuum pumps) are discussed.1 Emphasis is given on how they are constructed and operate, and how to design associated parts of the systems (such as foundations, suction piping, discharge piping, and so on), to ensure safe operation. Many unit operations — including distillation, evaporation, drying, crystallization, filtration, and others — are often conducted under vacuum conditions. To achieve the desired vacuum, the following three process- vacuum systems can be used: • Steam ejector systems • Mechanical vacuum pumps • Integrated vacuum systems (which combine steam ejectors and mechanical vacuum pumps) Available capacities and operating ranges for vacuum pumps and vacuum pumping systems that are most often used in process operations throughout the chemical process industries (CPI) are listed in the Table on p. 60 [ 1]. FIGURE 1. Shown here is a schematic of a three-stage steam ejector system with inter-condensers (Reprinted with permission from Ref. 1)[/caption]   This article reviews the hazards associated with steam ejector systems and mechanical vacuum pumps, and recommends design…
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