Closed System Technology Drives the Trend Toward Safer Dispensing of High-Purity Chemicals
- Friday, 01 October 2010
Fully closed systems also have additional safety mechanisms, such as a ported vent system, which allows air into the system to speed chemical flow and safely manage venting without releasing vapors. The vapors can either be routed to atmosphere by using a check valve to prevent harmful vapors from contaminating the work environment while allowing makeup air in, or it can be connected to a pressure source to force liquid out of the container. It can even be connected to an inert blanket gas source (N2, CO2, etc.) to protect sensitive liquids from oxidation resulting from contact with air.
This type of integrated system eliminates the need to install, remove, or clean a dip-tube, minimizing the potential for fluid or vapor contact while allowing fast container changeovers. Moreover, because the dip-tube can be disposed along with the drum after use, the chemical remains benign to the end user. Where previously the cost of such integrated closed systems could only be justified by large facilities, today’s newer technology also offers advantages for smaller end user applications. These systems provide more user-friendly features for companies looking to better control costs while maintaining cleaner performance and greater worker safety.
These systems offer users a number of cost-saving advantages and are ideally suited to cost-sensitive, one-way container applications. For example, the diptube is designed for single use and can be incorporated into the cost of the drum without significantly adding to the unit cost, while the coupler can be reused thousands of times. In addition, post-use handling, cleanup, and disposal of the drum is much more straightforward because the low-cost drum insert and closure are recyclable right along with the drum. For high-volume users, cost savings and return on investment are realized very quickly.
Any open system can be converted to a closed system using integrated dip-tubebased technology, such as the DrumQuik® PRO or the DrumQuik® PUR from Colder Products. These systems are ideal for high-volume, singleuse applications as well as for smaller end user systems. The drum insert assembly is made from virgin natural polyethylene or HDPE material so it can be easily recycled with the drum. The coupler is available in superior polypropylene or PVDF to assure long-term chemical resistance with most general and high-purity uses.
Safety Meets Efficiency
Core benefits of an integrated closed system include:
- Reduced liability risk and cost
- Improved worker safety due to minimized exposure
- Reduced environmental contamination
- Less product waste
- Easy setup and operation
- Support of cost-sensitive one-way and single-trip packaging
- Elimination of return shipping costs
The first priority in considering the need for a closed system is always the safety of people. In other words, is anyone’s health being affected by the chemicals you’re using or their contact with them? If the answer is yes, then you should immediately begin implementing a plan to minimize this exposure.
A second consideration is the potential for incorrectly mixing incompatible chemicals, resulting in wasted product, or worse, the destruction of an entire facility. Depending on the application and the environment, the ability to prevent misconnections or accidental blending of incompatible chemicals is critical. If this is a potential concern, a closed system with integrated color and/or mechanical keying is an important option to consider.
Additional operational and safety benefits can be realized with innovative RFID technology that can be incorporated into the dispensing system. With these systems, before the final connection of the body and insert is made, the RFID system automatically exchanges product data to help prevent misconnections or to validate process steps. Manufacturers can use this feature to verify machine cycle counts, improve quality control, and automatically calibrate dispensing equipment for the fluid being dispensed.
Evaluation of the entire closed system, not only the drum connection, is recommended. The connection at the process end of the line should also be taken into consideration. Typically, this is a piece of equipment or some end-user process that also requires a safe, reliable connection. This is where non-spill, quick-disconnect couplings can play a key role by providing an easy-to-use connection. This is an important but often overlooked part of a safe, reliable, closed system design.
When considering an integrated closed system, compatibility is a critical component. Select a system that is compatible with many types of common drums and containers. Depending on your application requirements, it should also be capable of passing United Nations and U.S. Department of Transportation approval standards for the transport of HAZMAT-grade chemicals.