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The Real Secret: ASEPCO’s Radial-Diaphragm Seal

“Beware of the little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

The basic, but finicky, weir valve seal is the bane of many engineers’ existence. While a simple technology, it’s tricky to install, prone to leaks, and often the culprit in product contamination.

The solution: the ASEPCO Radial-Diaphragm Seal. With Tom’s passing I was reminiscing about the development of the ASEPCO Radial-Diaphragm Seal back in the early 80’s. This seal was ASEPCO’s first breakthrough product to show you how we think about your challenges. We were sure that there was a need for a better tank bottom valve.

To check our hunch, we decided to focus on the outer weir seal, which is made when placing a flattened diaphragm between the valve body edge and the actuator edge.

So, we talked to end users like you. We showed a simple diagram of weir seal failure to over 800 engineers, and 97% of them recognized the problem immediately.

We listened to their stories and confirmed their challenges:

  • The weir valve requires that each bolt be tightened in a specific pattern (time consuming).
  • The tightness must be the same for each bolt or you get leaks (not so easy).
  • If you do it wrong, your product can leak right out onto the floor (messy).
  • Even when you do it perfectly, with differential pressures and time and wear, you get leaks anyway (!!!#@$).

They were frustrated, and there were no other solutions. It was just one of those things you “have to deal with.”

So we took on the weir seal challenge. We went into the R&D labs and brought some of the brightest minds in the industry together to find a creative solution. We tried many different models (I wish I had the photos to show you–some of them are pretty funny).

Finally, late one Friday night one of our inventors got an idea while watching an old movie and after a weekend in the lab, the ASEPCO Radial-Diaphragm Seal was born.

So, what is the Radial-Diaphragm Seal and how does it work? While the weir seal is basically like sticking a gasket between two pieces of metal and screwing it down, the radial seal is more like sticking your finger in a dike. Let me explain how our Radial-Diaphragm Valve works.

First, by replacing the nuts and bolts with a simple clamp, you can easily assemble the valve body, diaphragm, and actuator. This saves you time and energy, as it closes and releases easily and quickly.

Second, the diaphragm seal moves independently of the shoulder seal (the seal between the inside and outside of the valve). Using a manual or pneumatic actuator, you can easily open and close the seal.

(Go here to see a video of the diaphragm in action:

Third, the cylindrical shape of the diaphragm, when squeezed into the sealing position, holds the seal (it’s been tested to an internal water pressure of 300 psi without leakage).

Fourth, it’s rugged and easy to manage. It takes less than two minutes with a standard clamp to assemble and close an ASEPCO valve. No tools required. In fact, it’s so easy, even a caveman could do it.

Fifth, when the valve is closed, the unique CIP/SIP “behind-the-seat flow path” can be created if you add a CIP or SIP port. This flow path makes it easy to steam or clean the valve while the valve is closed. This allows for validated aseptic and sterile connections and transfers to be performed.

When we first brought the valve to market, pharmaceutical engineers were excited and a little skeptical. Most of them were still using weir-style valves for tank bottom drain valves. Over 21 years later, the majority of tank bottom valves now use a Radial-Diaphragm style design.

Continuing the evolution of valve design, we’ve taken that same radial-diaphragm technology and created a “weirless” line valve to complement our original tank valve.

You can simply drop our valve in place of any of your standard 20th century weir valves and bring your system into the 21st century.

Along the way you’ll save time and money by reducing maintenance time, improve performance with a less restrictive flow path, and simplify installation with 180 degrees of orientation.

If you haven’t been lucky enough to catch us at a show to get your hands on one of these valves, now’s your chance to see one. Email or call us today and we’ll get a demo in your hands tomorrow.

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