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SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PIPING SYSTEMS CONTAINING BELLOWS EXPANSION JOINTS

Bellows pipe expansion joints are employed in piping systems to absorb differential thermal expansion while containing the system pressure. They are being successfully used in refineries, chemical plants, fossil and nuclear power plants, shipboard applications, heating and cooling systems, pulp and paper plants, and cryogenic plants. Typical service conditions range from pressures of full vacuum to 1,000 psig (70 kg/cm3) and -420F to +1,800 F (-251C to +968 C). Thus, pipe expansion joints must be specified as a highly engineered product. They cannot and should not be purchased and used as commodity items if the pipe expansion joints are to perform their intended function safely and reliably. The system operating requirements, the pipe expansion joint design and manufacturing quality, the installation, test and operating procedures must all be considered for all pipe expansion joint installations.

Unlike most commonly used piping components, a bellows is constructed of relatively thin gauge material in order to provide the flexibility needed to absorb mechanical and thermal movements expected in service. This requires design, manufacturing quality, nondestructive examination, handling, installation and inspection procedures which recognize the unique nature of this product.

In general, the most reliable and safe bellows pipe expansion joint installations have always involved a high degree of understanding between the user and manufacturer. With this basic concept in mind, the following recommendations are given in order to better inform the user of those factors which many years of experience have shown to be essential for the successful installation and performance of piping systems containing bellows pipe expansion joints.

Single Flanged Expansion Joints for a Leading Manufacturer & Designer of Transformers & Power Supplies for an Industrial Applications Company

November 8, 2022

U.s. bellows custom designed single fanged expansion joints for a leading manufacturer & designer of transformers & power supplies for an industrial applications company

Type: Single Flanged Expansion Joint
Size: 5″ Length | 6″ ID | 11″ O.D.
Material: ASTM A240-316 Stainless Steel
Design 200°F | 150 psig | 7,942 lb/in. Lateral Spring Rate
0.625 ” Axial Travel | 803 lb/in. Axial Spring Rate
0.125″ Lateral Offset | 225 psig Test Pressure
Testing: 100% Dye-Penetrant | Air, Soap, & Bubble

These units were sold to a company that manufactures customized power conversion solutions used in power supplies, transformers, inductors and capacitors for industrial and military applications. Expansion joints are used in a wide range of industries from automotive, food processing, biofuels, and wastewater treatment plants. This expansion joint is simply a bellows element with flanged end connections. Regardless of accessories, such as liners and covers, it will deflect in any direction or plane. It is the least expensive type of metal expansion joint but requires that the piping be controlled or guided as to the specified direction of the movements required. This type of expansion joint should not be expected to control the movement of the pipe. If the piping analysis shows that the expansion joint must accept axial compression, then the piping must be guided and constrained so that only that movement will occur. This expansion joint will not resist any deflection other than the resistance of the bellows, which is a function of the spring rate times the deflection amount. It is incapable of resisting the pressure thrust along its axis, which is the product of the pressure times the effective, or cross-sectional, area of the bellows. Large diameter units, even with low pressures, can generate very large axial pressure thrust forces, which must be contained by main and directional anchors. Otherwise, the expansion joint will exceed its designed function.

Piping Technology and its subsidiaries, in this case, US Bellows, prides itself on its long-standing relationships with ALL its customers. We have worked with this client for over 10 years with our first project in the early 2000s. We have been their vendor of choice for almost every expansion joint since then. We believe we must be strategic partners with our clients to understand their technical, delivery, and commercial needs to best move forward. This is where we are different than other key players as we have “in-house” technical and manufacturing expertise in our plant located in Houston, Texas to address customer queries or updates in real-time. An example of what our customers say:

“Thank you very much for the excellent work you and your associates at USB provided on my expansion joint order. Although we agreed to 10-day rush delivery, your shop responded to my project schedule and delivered 14 bellows assemblies in only 7 days from my order. This quick delivery helped us avert a scheduling conflict on a very critical project. I would be glad to recommend U.S. Bellows to anyone in need of a quality product with on-time or better delivery. 2022”

*Designed in accordance with the Standards of the Expansion Joint Manufacturers Association, 10th E, and welding per ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code Section IX.

PT&P REF. ORIGINAL POST 08252020

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66″ Diameter Hinged Expansion Joints Designed for a Chemical Plant (PT&P Ref#132483)

October 11, 2022

132483a1

 

Type: Hinged Expansion Joint
Size: 66″ in diameter and 39-3/8″ OAL
Material: Incoloy 825 / 321 stainless steel
Design 73 psig at 986°F with 4.25 degrees of angular rotation
Testing: Dye Penetrant, X-Ray, PMI, Hydrotest

These single hinged expansion joints were custom designed by U.S. Bellows for a chemical plant in Saudi Arabia. The units are 66″ in diameter and 39-3/8″ OAL. The bellows are fabricated from Incoloy 825 with the weld ends, hinges, liner, and cover from 321 stainless steel. The expansion joints are designed for an operating pressure of 73 psig at 986°F with 4.25 degrees of angular rotation. All units were dye-penetrant tested, X-ray tested on all bellows and pipe longitudinal weld seams, PMI tested on all alloy components, and the alloy steel plate for the pipe was ultrasonic tested prior to shipment. Hinged Pipe Expansion Joints also contain hinges or pivots which allow the unit to bend in a single plane. We’ve supplied this type of expansion joint for both methanol and ammonia plants. They are also used in piping systems for Air, Steam, Gas Turbines, Reformer Ducts, and Burners. These units are designed to restrict axial deflection in extension or compression. The hinge mechanism is typically designed to accept full-pressure thrust. Also, because of the hinge mechanism’s design, shear loads, such as from the weight of adjacent piping, can be accepted by this pipe expansion joint, relieving the piping designer of having to provide additional supports and anchors required by the Single type.

PT&P REF. ORIGINAL POST 06182019

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Fabric Expansion Joint Designed for a High-Temperature Duct Application

September 6, 2022

Usbellows fabric expansion joint 170218

Type: Fabric Expansion Joints
Size: 67″ Long x 67″ Wide x 14″ Tall
Material: 3-Layer Fabric Belt with Kaowool Insulation
304 Stainless Steel Angle Flanges
Design Operating Temp: 2012°F at +/- 100″ Water Column
1″ of Lateral Deflection
Testing: 100% Dye Penetrant Testing & Q.C. Inspection

Fabric pipe expansion joints are often used in ducts that carry hot gasses at low pressures. The major design parameters are the temperatures and flow rates of the gasses and the amount and abrasiveness of solids suspended in the gasses. This fabric expansion joint utilizes a bulky flexible material, also called an Insulation Pillow, to shield against high temperatures protecting the belting material. Refractory is also used in the construction of this joint but is designed so that it does not interfere with movement. Our experienced engineers know that every element of this expansion joint plays a role in its rating for certain temperatures and the number of hours of operation. View Fabric Expansion Joints Product Section.
Fabric expansion joints are key in the systems supporting power and refining plants focused around renewable carbon-neutral product offerings. We have worked with the new entrants in the marketplace but also helped our long-term clients transition their older fossil fuel-based assets to green technology. These plants include biochar from biomass processing, carbon black, clean hydrogen, styrene, and cement.

PT&P REF. ORIGINAL POST 03182020

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Hinged Expansion Joints Custom-Designed for a Process that Produces High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

August 10, 2022

Hinged Expansion Joints Custom-Designed for a Process that Produces High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

U.S. Bellows custom designed these hinged expansion joints for a Polyolefin process which produces High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) resin at a chemical plant. Polyolefins are a family of polyethylene and polypropylene thermoplastics. The job included expansion joints ranging from 12″ to 32″ NPS. The units pictured above have a nominal pipe size of 16″. The bellows and liner were fabricated from 304 stainless steel and the flanges, cover, and hardware from carbon steel. They are designed for an operating temperature of 176°F at 145 psig and 1° of angular movement. The expansion joints were 100% dye penetrant tested, the bellows longitudinal seam welds were 100% X-rayed, PMI examined, and hydro-tested prior to shipment.

PT&P REF. ORIGINAL POST 12162020

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Tied Universal Elbow Expansion Joint Custom-Designed for Ammonia and Waste Processing for a Liquid Nitrogen Fertilizer Plant

July 5, 2022

Usbellows tied universal expansion joint 143516

Type: Tied Universal Elbow Expansion Joint
Size: 20″ Dia. | 112″ Face-of-Flange to Center Line of Elbow OAL
Material: Inconel® 625 Bellows | 304 H Stainless Steel
Design Operating Temp: 1,150°F at 140 psig | 4″ Lateral Deflection
Testing: Dye Penetrant Examined | 100% X-Rayed Bellows | Hydro-tested

U.S. Bellows, Inc. custom-designed a tied universal elbow expansion joint for ammonia and waste processing for a nitrogen fertilizer plant. The bellows and liner are fabricated from Inconel® 625. The pipe, tie rods, and flanges are fabricated from 304 H stainless steel. It is designed for an operating temperature of 1,150°F at 140 psig and 4″ of lateral deflection. The assembly is 20″ in diameter and 112″ face-of-flange to the centerline of elbow OAL. The unit was 100% x-rayed, dye-penetrate examined, and hydro-tested before shipment.

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27″ Dia. Universal Expansion Joints Designed for a Wastewater Treatment Plant

June 6, 2022


27” Dia. Universal Expansion Joints Designed for a Pipeline in Florida

U.S. Bellows designed universal expansion joints for a wastewater treatment plant in Florida. This was done for a longtime client and market leader in wastewater management, energy services, water, and wastewater treatment. The units are 60″ tall and have a 26.75″ inside diameter. The bellows, cover, liner, and weld-ends are fabricated from 304 stainless steel. They are designed for an operating temperature of 1000°F at 11 psig, with 2″ axial compression and lateral deflection. The units were pneumatically tested at 12 psig prior to shipment. The on-site inspection was done by the client and the EPC firm at our manufacturing facility with our Engineers present to provide any additional clarity that was needed.

U.S. Bellows, EJMA member, is a leader in bellows design and manufacturing. With our manufacturing and engineering both in Houston, we have over 45 years of experience and have deployed over 250k expansion joints which does not include maintenance and repairs services conducted by our highly qualified field service team.

Custom expansion joint design and manufacturing is a complex process and we execute it effectively by focusing on the approval drawings from the customer side, training on customer support with all functional teams (production, engineering, shipping, and sales), and inter-team communication. We developed and deployed digital work instructions for all key production steps and added detailing and reviewing checklists of all of the expansion joint drawings before releasing them to fabrication. These improvements have reduced considerably the number of revisions and reworks. Some insight into jobs we have conducted successfully include:

  • Refurbished 6 48″-64″ Refractory-lined Expansion Joints for a Large Houston Refinery during a 45-day turnaround
  • Completed a large ducting project for a Major Chemical facility in Texas with on-time delivery
  • In the last 6 months, 40% of our expansion joint jobs have shipped in 2 weeks

Usbellows universal expansion joint drawing 159489

 

PT&P REF. ORIGINAL POST 11122018

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Rubber Expansion Joints for an 8” Dia. Pipeline at a Saudi Arabian Oil Company

May 11, 2022

Ptp rubber expansion joint 171379

U.S. Bellows, Inc. provided rubber expansion joints for an 8″ pipeline. This single open arch rubber expansion joint is fabricated from EPDM rubber and the retaining rings are galvanized A36 carbon steel and powder coated orange. The expansion joints were designed for an operating pressure of 250 psig with a 30″ vacuum, 1.75″ compression, 0.88″ extension, and 1″ lateral offset. Rubber pipe expansion joints are often used to compensate for minor misalignment and offset. Each unit was hydro-tested at 250°F at 75 psig. An advantage of a rubber expansion joint (also called an elastomer joint) over the metallic is the ability to prevent the transmission of vibration and to do this without significant harm to the joint. They can be utilized for pump inlets and discharges solely to stop vibration and noise from the pump. They have an integrally flanged design where no gaskets are required. Metal reinforcing rings can also be added to help resist pressure and flexing during operation. Fabric reinforcement within the rubber can also be added for applications to take the load of fluid pressure. At U.S. Bellows, our engineers are professionally trained and qualified to both design and manufacture units specifically for your application per expansion joint manufacturing association (EJMA).

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96″ Dia. Thick Wall Expansion Joint Designed for a Sulfuric Acid Plant

April 12, 2022

Us bellows thick wall expansion joint 169673

U.S. Bellows designed this thick wall flanged and flued head expansion joint at a sulfuric acid plant in Louisiana.  Sulfuric acid plants are located throughout the industrialized world and we have worked with most of them including market leaders. Most are located near their product acid’s point of use, i.e., near fertilizer plants, copper ore leach plants, and petroleum refineries. This is because elemental sulfur is cheaper to transport than sulfuric acid. By far the largest amount of sulfuric acid is used to make phosphoric acid, used, in turn, to make the phosphate fertilizers, calcium dihydrogenphosphate, and ammonium phosphates. It is also used to make ammonium sulfate, which is a particularly important fertilizer in sulfur-deficient. In various concentrations, the acid is used in the manufacture of fertilizers, pigments, dyes, drugs, explosives, detergents, and inorganic salts and acids, as well as in petroleum refining and metallurgical processes.

The expansion joint was fabricated from A516-70 carbon steel and painted with a special epoxy coat for protection from corrosion. The unit is 96″ x 124-1/4″ O.D. All of the butt welds for this expansion joint were 100% liquid penetrant, 100% radiographic, and soap and air bubble tested prior to shipment. This type of joint can be used as a “clamshell” joint used in conjunction with shell and tube heat exchangers, steam exhaust, hot water return lines, or chilled water lines.

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Rectangular Fabric Expansion Joint for a Heat Recovery System at a Cement Plant

March 15, 2022

Ptp fabric expansion joint 147379

U.S. Bellows, Inc. designed and fabricated this rectangular fabric expansion joint for a heat recovery system at a cement plant in Indiana. The unit was fabricated with a high-temperature PTFE fabric belt and carbon steel frame. The dimensions are 197″ in length, 118″ in width, and 18″ face-to-face. The expansion joint is designed for an operating temperature of -20°-400°F at +/- 60″ water column and 1″ of axial compression and lateral offset. A dye-penetrant exam was performed on all welds before shipment.

Fabric expansion joints are often used in ducts that carry hot gases at low pressures. The major design parameters are the temperatures and flow rates of the gases and the amount and abrasiveness of solids suspended in the gases. Rectangular fabric expansion joints are also used in power plant ducting that requires joints from the boiler or economizer outlet to the chimney.

Also, they can be used on ducting to the coal pulverizers and the furnace-air inlets. Combustion turbines will also use these types of joints in exhaust and heat-recovery ducts. The primary duct movement this type of joint absorbs is axial expansion and contraction due to temperature changes. The expansion joint designer can also design for lateral and angular movements. Elastomers and Plastomers are the basic flexible materials used to construct the belting material for these joints. These sheets can be used in combination with woven glass, metal wire, fluoroelastomers, insulation, and other materials for use in applications where there may be abrasive material, condensate, acids, and other particles that could reduce the expected life of the joint. Our experienced engineers are also skilled in the various methods and fasteners to connect the belting material to the metal frames of the expansion joint.

This expansion joint was designed for a cement plant for one of the largest building material manufacturers worldwide. Such facilities make products ranging from fly ash, slag, masonry, white, specialty and oil well cements for use in commercial construction, residential construction, and industrial applications.

 

USB REF. ORIGINAL POST 03132017

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26′-10″ Long Universal Expansion Joint & Ductwork for a Chemical Plant

February 16, 2022

 

Us bellows universal expansion joint 144495

Type: Universal Expansion Joints with Ductwork
Size: 322″ Centerline-to-Centerline | 48″ Diameter
Material: 304 Stainless Steel | Carbon Steel
Design 400°F Operating Temp. @ 91 psig | 3.3″ Lateral
Testing: 100% Dye-Penetrant | PMI | Hydro-tested

U.S. Bellows custom designed this 26 ft. -10 in. long universal expansion joint with ductwork for a chemical plant. The bellows, ductwork, and flanges were fabricated from 304 stainless steel and the rest of the components from carbon steel. The unit is designed for 48″ diameter piping with an operating temperature of 400°F at 91 psig and 3.3″ of lateral deflection. The expansion joint was completed in 12 weeks and was 100% dye-penetrant, PMI, and hydro-tested before shipment. Chemical plants for which these are typically required process chemicals such as ethylene oxide/glycols, toluene diisocyanate, methylene diphenyl isocyanate, hydrochloric acid, polyether polyols, butanediol, GBL, n-methyl pyrrolidone, tetrahydrofuran, 2-pyrrolidone, PVP/PVPi, specialty amines, aniline, acetylene, surfactants, polytetrahydrofuran, and methylamines. The end products include furniture, automotive antifreeze, foams, carpets, construction, steel pickling, oil well acidizing, biodegradable plastics, lithium-ion battery production, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, gas treatment, water treatment, toothpaste, detergent, spandex fibers, engineered high-performance plastics, and animal feed.

U.S. Bellows has the scale and manufacturing agility to produce expansion joints and ductwork ranging in order size from a small scale of sub-1000 of dollars to upwards of 1M dollar large capital projects. We regularly support overnight lead times and tight project deliverables with evolving project requirements per the client and site needs. Last month, over half of our production capacity, was dedicated to this kind of work. A glimpse into our capabilities is outlined below from some projects we did last year:

– Refurbished 6, 48″-64″ diameter refractory-lined expansion joints for a large Houston refinery during a 45-day turnaround
– Completed a large ducting project for a major chemical facility in Texas with on-time delivery
– In the last 6 months, 40% of our expansion joint jobs have shipped in 2 weeks

We invite you to visit our facility and meet our team to get a first-hand look at our capabilities for your upcoming projects.

US-B REF. ORIGINAL POST 11122019

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