Best Practices for Expansion Joints in the Process Industries

THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT AND PROPER MAINTENANCE CAN EXTEND THE LIFE OF EXPANSION JOINTS, AND ADD TO A SYSTEM’S TOTAL LIFESPAN.
Operating equipment in the process industries can be fraught with dangers. Specifically, rubber expansion joints used at high temperatures or improperly installed, and operating pumps away from the best efficiency point (BEP), can cause wear, failure and extended downtime in operation. One common issue with rotating equipment is vibration, and one way to avoid vibration is to use expansion joints and use them properly.

In addition, piping systems require flexibility, according to the Fluid Sealing Association (FSA). Inadequate flexibility and vibration from fluid borne noise can lead to wide-scale damage, and expose personnel to the risk of injury.

Rubber expansion joints are flexible connectors fabricated of natural or synthetic oil-based elastomers with fabric reinforcement. Some typical materials used in their construction include:

Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM)
Neoprene
Chlorobutyl
Hypalon
These materials usually combine with polyester or nylon and wire reinforcing. These connectors are particularly suited to combat the fluid noise that is common with rotating machinery.

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