Low Emission Gaskets and Packing: About Leak Detection and Repair Programs

Leaking equipment, such as pumps, valves, and jointed connections can be a large source for fugitive emissions of volatile compounds (VOC’s) and volatile hazardous air pollutants (VHAP’s). Fugitive emissions of these compounds can cause breathing difficulties for people in proximity to the source of the leak, and they may contribute to disease processes, including cancer.

Fugitive emissions are defined as any chemical in physical form that can leak unexpectedly from a facility or equipment. These emissions are important because they contribute significantly to greenhouse gases and global warming.

According to the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), valves are the single largest source of fugitive emissions of VOC’s and VHAP’s. Flanged connections are the second largest contributor. For both types of leaks, gaskets and packing have a key role to play in preventing fugitive emissions.

What is a Leak Detection and Repair program?

A Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) program can help a company to reduce the incidence of fugitive emissions from equipment. Through an LDAR, a company can implement a structured formal process for monitoring equipment condition and preventing leaks before they occur.

An LDAR is an important component of any strategy for achieving zero emissions. With an LDAR, leaks from valves, flanged connections, and other sources can be detected early, leading to prompt repair.

How does an LDAR work?

The EPA has a publication, Leak Detection and Repair: A Best Practices Guide, which explains how companies can run an effective LDAR. The guide highlights five key elements of a good LDAR:

  • First, companies should identify which equipment and components in their operations should be tested for leaks. A general guideline to follow is that any equipment or component that uses a gasket or seal should come under the auspices of an LDAR program.

  • Secondly, a company should establish quantifiable criteria for what constitutes a leak. While standard and regulations often specify permissible amounts of leakage, the EPA recommends setting criteria below those established by any applicable standards or regulations.

  • Thirdly, a company should establish a formal monitoring program. The EPA publication outlines a formal monitoring process, known as Method 21.

  • Fourthly, a policy and supporting procedures for dealing with and repairing leaks should be established and implemented. While not all leaks can be repaired immediately, the expectation is that any detected leak will be corrected as quickly as possible. This will require a company think through its procedures for either stocking or obtaining quickly the gaskets, seals or packing that are required to repair a leak. A key part of dealing with leaks is prevention; this can be accomplished by using low emission gaskets and packing that are especially designed to reduce the incidence of fugitive emissions.

  • Finally, the EPA recommends that records of all leaks and repairs be kept. Not only are these evidence of corrective action, but leak data can be analyzed to reveal important trends and facilitate problem solving.

Low emission gaskets and packing from CRG

CRG recognizes that industries and companies are increasingly concerned with reducing and eliminating fugitive emissions. To help companies reduce their emission load, CRG can supply a variety of low emission (Low E) products, including the following:

  • Low emissions valve packing, including Teadit style 2236. This packing is well suited for power plants, refineries, petrochemical industries, chemical processing as well as sealing applications in steam at high pressure and temperatures.

  • Low emission spiral would gaskets, including Teadit style 913M-LE. The design of these gaskets provides low-emission performance at a level significantly below the minimum ASME seating stress rating for spiral wound gaskets – making the 913M-LE a truly low seating stress design.

  • Low emission thread seal tape, including Teadit ECOtape-LE. Due to the excellent properties of PTFE and graphite, this combination ensures a wide degree of chemical resistance, low coefficient of friction, excellent heat dissipation due to the high thermal conductivity of graphite and superior mechanical resistance.

To find out more about how CRG can help with low emission gaskets and packing, please contact our sales team at crg@canadarubbergroup.com.