Fort Vale is launching a brand new high-pressure version of its Safeload API coupler to complement the existing range. It is aimed at applications that demand up to 16 Bar internal pressure on the rack and 10 Bar when coupled.
The well-established Safeload range of API couplers is unique in design. Safeload was the first, and remains the only coupler on the market with extended “wrap around” latches that follow the profile of the API adaptor, covering over 50% of the circumference. This exclusive feature ensures maximum safety and security of connection, drastically reducing any risk of product leakage. In comparison to conventional narrow triggers, the increased surface area contact significantly reduces wear to both the latches and the adaptor, which prolongs the serviceable life of both units.
To withstand the high-pressure application, the existing model has been extensively re-engineered. The spindle, crank and poppet have been re-designed and now offer greater inherent strength and reduced turbulence, which enhances flow characteristics. In addition, the new coupler has a smaller “active pressure area” and a dual seal system, which reduces the effect of product displacement, making it easier to close the coupler against a retained line pressure.
The high-pressure Safeload coupler also incorporates a brand new additional safety feature, the interlock latch, which is designed to eliminate accidental actuation of the coupler in case of lateral impact, thereby preventing the risk of product spillage. The interlock latch will be a key element of all the current range of semi-automatic and manual couplers by 2016.
In line with BS EN12266-1 and EN12266-2, Fort Vale has subjected the new high-pressure coupler to extensive testing in their own purpose-built Research, Development & Testing facility at its U.K. headquarters. To replicate the endurance testing previously carried out on the standard semi-automatic Safeload, the high-pressure coupler is currently undergoing 250,000 cycles whereby it is pressurised with fluid to 16 Bar in the disconnected position, de-pressurised, connected to the adaptor and opened, pressurised with fluid to 10 Bar, closed, de-pressurised and de-coupled. To give some idea of the scope of this test, 175,000 cycles constitutes approximately 5 years of service at 4 operations per hour, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, representing a “busy” terminal. At regular intervals, the coupler was removed and disassembled to monitor any wear. Fort Vale is delighted to report that no significant wear is evident on critical components. Furthermore, the amount of liquid loss on disconnection has been measured and, over 100 cycles, is 74% less than the regulation permitted 5cc, which is based on just three consecutive disconnects.
During the cycle testing programme, a 10 minute pneumatic test at 16 Bar was conducted to look for any leakage, for example from the sealing areas or castings, since any micro-porosity may not be apparent with only a liquid test. No pressure-drop or leakage was evident. Also a 10 minute low-pressure pneumatic test at 0.2 Bar was carried out to ensure that the seals did not leak in a non- pressure-energised scenario. Again, no leakage was detected.
“Customers consistently praise the long-term reliability of the Safeload coupler. One of our European clients has 150 Fort Vale couplers in service and has had zero maintenance issues after 7 years of constant heavy use, reports Euan Fisher, Business Development Manager for Petroleum Transfer Products.
“As an organisation, we are constantly seeking to develop new products that meet the needs of our existing and future oil terminal customers. Because the new Safeload high-pressure API coupler inherits the same reliability and usability that our existing couplers offer, Fort Vale is confident to offer its unrivalled 3 year warranty across the entire range of couplers.* he concludes.