Pump Seals in Brewery Process Applications

The recent surge in growth of the Craft Brewing industry has brought about many new opportunities. It has also brought with it some challenges especially when speaking about the seal. Many of today’s brewers are batching at very high temperatures and an unwitting customer may overlook this and use Buna-N Rubber gaskets and O-Rings. Buna begins to break down at around 190 °F. At Steel & O’Brien, we strongly recommend EPDM elastomer materials.

Another obstacle is the ingredients used in today’s beers and ales. Any type of abrasive elements like coffee, cocoa, spices, and such can become trapped between the sealing surfaces and can compromise the carbon rotating element and the stationary surface in a very short time. When transferring wort to the fermenter, you may see an excessive amount of a gooey substance that looks a lot like caramel around the sealing area. This is likely to be sugars. When it cools and hardens, the white residue of crystalized sugars will then appear. Sugars are produced by the malt during the mash process and are an important by-product of brewing. When it cools, the sugar crystallizes and, in effect, glues the carbon rotating element to the stationary surface. When the pump is restarted, the initial torque is going to break that binding loose and occasionally it cracks or breaks the carbon. This can be solved with the Water Cascade assembly. This option gives the user the ability to dribble a very low flow to the seal to cool it and lubricate it. In addition, it helps to clean the seal of sticky substances when the pump shuts down. These substances tend to cake or crystalize when cooled down.

Our C-Series Pumps are available with our “DG” Seal option, which is comprised of a Silicon Carbide Stationary Seat vs. Carbon Rotating Element and is standard with FKM elastomer. This combination will allow for higher temperatures and the ability to pump small abrasive and/or sticky ingredients. The Water Cascade and the “DG Seal options are only available on models TF-C114 through TF-C328. As with most sanitary centrifugal pumps, our pumps should never be allowed to run dry. Please note: Neither the Water Flush Assembly nor the “DG” Seal is available on the model TF-C100 Pump.

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