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Wikipedia about piping union
A union is similar to a coupling, except it is designed to allow quick and convenient disconnection of pipes for maintenance or fixture replacement. While a coupling would require either solvent welding, soldering or being able to rotate with all the pipes adjacent as with a threaded coupling, a union provides a simple transition, allowing easy connection or disconnection at any future time. A standard union pipe is made in three parts consisting of a nut, a female end, and a male end. When the female and male ends are joined, the nut then provides the necessary pressure to seal the joint. Since the mating ends of the union are interchangeable, changing of a valve or other device can be achieved with a minimum loss of time. Pipe unions are essentially a type of flange connector, as discussed further below.
In addition to standard, simple unions, other types of union exist:
Dielectric unions are unions with dielectric insulation, used to separate dissimilar metals (such as copper and galvanized steel) to avoid the damaging effects of galvanic corrosion. When two dissimilar metals are in contact with an electrically conductive solution (even tap water is conductive), they will form a battery and generate a voltage by electrolysis. When the two metals are in direct contact with each other, the electric current from one metal to the other will cause a movement of ions from one to the other, dissolving one metal and depositing it on the other. A dielectric union breaks the electric current path with a plastic liner between two halves of the union, thus limiting galvanic corrosion.
Rotary unions are unions that allow for rotation of one of the united parts.
Different types of valves
Valves vary widely in form and application. Sizes typically range from 0.1 mm to 60 cm. Special valves can have a diameter exceeding 5 meters.
Valve costs range from simple inexpensive disposable valves to specialized valves which cost thousands of US dollars per inch of the diameter of the valve.
Disposable valves may be found in common household items including mini-pump dispensers and aerosol cans.
A common use of the term valve refers to the poppet valves found in the vast majority of modern internal combustion engines such as those in most fossil fuel powered vehicles which are used to control the intake of the fuel-air mixture and allow exhaust gas venting.
Boilers and safety issue
To define and secure boilers safely, some professional specialized organizations such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) develop standards and regulation codes. For instance, the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code is a standard providing a wide range of rules and directives to ensure compliance of the boilers and other pressure vessels with safety, security and design standards.5
Historically, boilers were a source of many serious injuries and property destruction due to poorly understood engineering principles. Thin and brittle metal shells can rupture, while poorly welded or riveted seams could open up, leading to a violent eruption of the pressurized steam. When water is converted to steam it expands to over 1,000 times its original volume and travels down steam pipes at over 100 kilometres per hour. Because of this, steam is a great way of moving energy and heat around a site from a central boiler house to where it is needed, but without the right boiler feed water treatment, a steam-raising plant will suffer from scale formation and corrosion. At best, this increases energy costs and can lead to poor quality steam, reduced efficiency, shorter plant life and unreliable operation. At worst, it can lead to catastrophic failure and loss of life. Collapsed or dislodged boiler tubes can also spray scalding-hot steam and smoke out of the air intake and firing chute, injuring the firemen who load the coal into the fire chamber. Extremely large boilers providing hundreds of horsepower to operate factories can potentially demolish entire buildings. 6
A boiler that has a loss of feed water and is permitted to boil dry can be extremely dangerous. If feed water is then sent into the empty boiler, the small cascade of incoming water instantly boils on contact with the superheated metal shell and leads to a violent explosion that cannot be controlled even by safety steam valves. Draining of the boiler can also happen if a leak occurs in the steam supply lines that is larger than the make-up water supply could replace. The Hartford Loop was invented in 1919 by the Hartford Steam Boiler and Insurance Company as a method to help prevent this condition from occurring, and thereby reduce their insurance claims.