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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.

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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Neoprene Expansion Joints for a Combined Cycle Power Plant

January 18, 2022

Neoprene Expansion Joints for a Combined Cycle Power Plant in Western Europe

These neoprene expansion joints were custom-designed for a gas turbine facility in Western Europe. Neoprene expansion joints are typically used in turbine inlets and turbine exhaust and can accommodate the full temperature of hot gas flows while absorbing the thermal expansion and reducing stresses in the system. Neoprene expansion joints can be lined with different materials such as metal, fiberglass, or PTFE for increased temperatures. These types of expansion joints can also absorb contraction in cryogenic lines and assist in reducing vibration. In addition to gas turbines, these units can be used in coal-fired plants, renewable energy plants such as Biofuels Green energy plants, geothermal plants, chemical and other types of power plants where high-pressure pulsations and turbulent flow conditions exist.

Some other end applications for these types of expansion joints include:

  • Engineered wood building products (such as OSB)
  • Building materials such as cement, concrete, and aggregates
  • Carbon blacks for industrial, automotive, and conductive coatings, pigments, tire components, mechanical/industrial rubber goods (including membrane roofing, automotive rubber parts)
  • Metal ore mining

The expansion joint is a conical design and is 42” x 36” and 12” face-to-face. The fabric belt is made from reinforced neoprene and the framework is made from stainless steel and incorporates the use of stainless steel bolting to prevent corrosion. Units can be supplied with several different bolting patterns and configurations to accommodate various operation/installation requirements or allow access for periodic maintenance. They are designed for an operating temperature range from-30-120°F with a +/- 100” water column and 1” of axial compression and 1.25” lateral deflection. A 100% dye-penetrant test was performed before shipment. US Bellows, a subsidiary of Piping Technology and Products, has a long history of providing neoprene and fabric type expansion joints to meet the parameters, temperatures, and flow rates of gases and can be designed to operate when there are abrasive solids that could be suspended in the gases. Due to our experienced staff, we offer the special ability to both assist in the design and development of expansion joints along with the ability to manufacture these units at our 450,000 Square feet facility to meet your specifications. Our expansion joint capability has been greatly expanded production and allowed us to meet customer expectations on the most demanding projects from refurbishments to replacements, to new innovative designs for emerging verticals such as waste-to-energy plants aimed at reducing carbon footprint. In the last 6 months, we shipped over 40% of our expansion joints in two weeks or less to meet customer timelines and deliverables.

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Expansion Joint with “Testable” Bellows for Auxiliary Column Overhead Line

December 14, 2021

Custom Universal Tied Expansion Joint with 2-Ply "Testable" Bellows for an Auxiliary Column Overhead Line

U.S. Bellows, a division of PT&P, custom-designed universal tied expansion joints with oversized, testable bellows for an auxiliary column overhead line in a refinery. This design can also be used in BioFuels plants, Wastewater Treatment Plants, and various Green Energy facilities. The expansion joint pictured is 100″ long and fabricated with carbon steel flanges, liner, cover, and hardware. The bellows are 36″ diameter and formed utilizing Inconel-625 LCF material. The expansion joints are designed for an operating temperature of 650°F at 50 psig with 2.75″ lateral movement. Tests included dye Penetrant examination of all welds, x-ray test of butt-welds, and bellows long seams. We conducted PMI tests on all alloys along with the welds, as well as, a pneumatic test and bellows ply leak test.

The bellows, being two-ply, provide for 100% redundancy; therefore, if a leak occurs in the inner ply (which can be detected by a leak detection system), the outer ply is designed for the full pressure and temperature. Pipe strain, misalignment, and vibration can affect the lifecycle of expansion joints located near pumps, compressors, and other rotating equipment. This design allows for the critical piping system to continue operating while plans for replacement can be formulated. This can prevent unexpected shut-downs saving field maintenance valuable time and money. Two-ply bellows also make it possible to pressure test (using the installed test ports) and inspect for leaks during field inspections and in some cases, if conditions permit, the expansion joint can be tested while in service. Most expansion joints in oil refineries, especially FCC units use two-ply bellows, but they are also ideal for regenerated catalyst standpipe, spent catalyst standpipe, recirculation cooled catalyst flue gas piping, and hot gas expanded piping.

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Universal Elbow Expansion Joints for Glycol Heat Transfer Piping

November 22, 2021

Universal Elbow Expansion Joints for Glycol Heat Transfer Piping
U.S. Bellows, a division of PT&P, custom-designed universal elbow expansion joints for glycol heat transfer piping for one of the largest chemical and refining companies in the world. Such industrial complexes produce chemicals such propylene oxide used for making plastic goods, tertiary butyl alcohol used in making flavors, perfumes, and as a solvent, ethylene oxide is used as an intermediate product in the production of fabrics and antifreeze, polypropylene is used for making consumer products such as those for automobiles, and Catalloy process resins which are used in packaging and automotive production. Glycol heat transfer enables effective process cooling. The bellows, flanges, plates, pipe, nuts, and threaded rods are all fabricated from 304 stainless steel and the units were painted for added protection. The expansion joints are designed for a 16” NPS and are 68-3/8” long. They are designed for an operating pressure of 67 psig at 378°F with 854 lb/in. axial spring rate and 0.2” of axial compression and with 205 in/lb lateral spring rate and 1.51 in lateral movements. Both expansion joints were hydro-tested at 101 psi and QC inspected before shipment. Generally, a universal expansion joint is composed of two bellows connected by a common pipe or center spool. This type of assembly allows any combination of the three basic movements: axial, lateral, and angular allowing for safe absorption of temperature-induced expansion and contraction of building materials, and vibration, or to allow movement due to ground settlement or seismic activity. In addition to expansion joints, PT&P provides a full range of engineered pipe supports, pre-insulated supports, shock control, restraint, and support devices, ASME fabricated vessels, tanks, pig launchers, and more.

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Externally Pressurized X-Flex Expansion Joints for a Overseas Facility

September 14, 2021

Externally Pressurized X-Flex Expansion Joints for a Overseas Facility

“Decarbonation” and “Carbon Neutral” are two key terms used to describe efforts to lower the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted into the atmosphere. Efforts are now underway to gradually convert existing Coal-Fired, HRSG (Heat Recovery Steam Generated or Natural Gas Powered) and other power plants utilizing fossil fuels onto plants that emit far fewer greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. U.S. Bellows, Inc. received unique specifications to design and manufacture externally pressurized expansion joints for a facility overseas. The bellows are fabricated from 316 stainless steel and all other components are carbon steel. They are designed for a temperature of 200°F at 150 psig with 8″ axial compression. The units are 4″ NOP x 63″ L, 6″ NPS x 61.44″ L, and 12″ NPS x 64″ L.

3d drawing externally pressurized ej 171063Externally pressurized pipe expansion joints, also known as X-Flex expansion joints, are suited for piping systems that require large amounts of axial compression or extension. In externally pressurized pipe expansion joints, the bellows elements are arranged so that the media flow is on the external surface of the bellows. Externally pressurizing the bellows eliminates pressure instability as a limitation to the design and permits the absorption of large amounts of axial expansion. Our QC department conducted various NDT examinations (X-Rays, PMI, Penetrant Tests, and Hydro Tests). Also provided were “weld maps” and MTR’s for client review and inspection. At U.S. Bellows, we are constantly developing and assisting client engineers in this effort toward decarbonation by designing innovative products to accommodate new and unusual design specifications.

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Custom Single Ply X-Flex Bellows Designed for a Manufacturing Company of Flooring Products

August 16, 2021

Custom Single Ply X-Flex Bellows Designed for a Manufacturing Company of Flooring Products

U.S. Bellows customized single-ply X-Flex bellows for the world’s largest manufacturer and supplier of flooring products with locations throughout the U.S. Flooring products such as carpet, ceramic tile, natural stone, laminate, vinyl, and hardwood require many of the same piping systems as traditional indoor plants for the automotive, food processing, semiconductor, textile, and pulp & paper industries. Plants that manufacture flooring are usually quite large requiring large tracks of land. As a result, the “pipe runs” can extend hundreds of feet requiring various types of expansion joints to accommodate the movement of the pipe while also relieving stresses in the piping system. Externally pressurized expansion joints are especially suited for piping systems that require large amounts of axial compression or extension. In externally pressurized pipe expansion joints, the bellows elements are arranged so that the media flow is on the external surface of the bellows. Externally pressurizing the bellows eliminates pressure instability as a limitation to the design and permits the absorption of large amounts of axial expansion. These expansion joints are fabricated with 304 stainless steel bellows, flanges, and pipe. They are designed for 300°F at 14.7 psig with an 8″ extension. The units are 3″ pipe x 40″ long, and 4″ pipe x 40″ long. The expansion joints were hydro-tested and underwent NDE quality control inspection tests such as liquid penetrate inspection (LPI) before shipment.

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Super U-Loop Expansion Joint Designed for a Chilled Water Line

August 1, 2021

Super U-Loop Expansion Joint Designed for a Chilled Water Line for Paint and Body Shops in Automotive Manufacturing Plants

U.S. Bellows, a division of PT&P has developed its Super U-Loop and Super V-Loop product line for applications requiring accommodation of axial growth typically on longer runs of piping. The Super U-Loop and Super V-Loop designs restrain pressure thrust without any anchoring in the piping system. U.S. Bellows is the first company to bring its advanced expansion joint technology used in the world’s most challenging applications to a standard V-Loop and U-Loop product offering. U.S. Bellows expansion joints are used in key process areas in oil and gas, chemical, power, semiconductor, food, automotive, and other operating plants in extreme environments which include temperatures over 1000°F, pressure over 200 PSI, and a wide variety of highly corrosive materials. This particular U-loop shown in the picture below was designed, manufactured, and shipped in less than 9 days from our Houston-based manufacturing facility.

Us bellows universal expansion joint loop 185130 b
Super U-Loop for Automotive Plant – 14” NPS, 4” Axial Movement
Option Super U-Loop Advantages Super U-Loop Disadvantages
Pipe Loop · Super U-Loop requires far less space

· Can be designed to accommodate large amounts of axial movement

· Pipe loop is a lower cost if the space is available
Flexible Metal Hose Based U-Loop and V-Loop · Flow liner protects the interior of the bellows

· Cover on Bellows protects exterior of bellow – Flexible metal hose can be damaged easily by accidental bumping, banging, etc.

· Super U-Loop can be designed with varying thickness to optimize strength versus lower spring rate

· Super U-Loop can be made with custom metals to accommodate environmental conditions – includes Hastelloy, Inconel, Monel, …

· Designed to better withstand vibration in Piping System

· Standard designs can be delivered in as little as 1 week

· Flexible metal hose offers a very low spring rate

U.S. Bellows/PT&P’s Super U-Loop and Super V-Loop offer a breakthrough option for accommodating large amounts of axial growth in both commercial and high-temperature industrial environments. The traditional option used when space was not available for a pipe loop was a flexible metal hose which introduced the risk of failure into the piping system. U.S. Bellows design is built around minimizing the risk of failure by:

  • Flow Liner – protects the interior of the Bellows
  • Cover – protects the exterior of the Bellows for damage such as falling wrenches, accidental banging by a forklift, etc.
  • Limits Excessive Cycling – if vibration in the piping system “cycles”, a flexible metal hose may not be an adequate solution. The reason is that neither expansion joints nor flexible metal hoses are designed to support millions of cycles. The low spring rate of the flexible metal hose makes it more vulnerable to being cycled by unintended continuous vibration in the piping system. Even 1 Hz of vibration rapidly leads to excessive cycling with 86,400 cycles per day. By incorporating either a Super U-Loop or Super V-Loop with an expansion joint, we are able to accommodate a large amount of movement with the ability to dampen vibration due to the higher spring rate of the expansion joint design.

Us bellows universal expansion joint loop 185130 c

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