Formaldehyde, also known by its systematic name methanal, is a colorless organic compound with the chemical formula CH2O. It is a widespread precursor to other chemical compounds and materials. The worldwide annual production capacity for formaldehyde is estimated to be close to 10 million tons. In 2003, the value of purchased formaldehyde and its derivatives was over 145 billion USD. In the U.S. and Canada alone, over 4 million people work in the formaldehyde industry.
Considering the toxicity, and volatility of formaldehyde, it poses a significant danger to human health and should be handled with great care and contained at all costs.
What are Some Applications of Formaldehyde in the Industry?
Some of the common use cases of the chemical are as follows:
- In Cars and Trucks: Formaldehyde is used to manufacture various components for the electrical system, transmission, engine block, brake shoes, and door panels, just to name a few. Even the paint is created with the help of formaldehyde.
- Vaccines: The chemical is used as an agent to inactivate viruses, effectively preventing them from causing diseases. Bacterial toxins, like the toxin used to produce diphtheria vaccine, are also neutralized with formaldehyde.
- Flooring, Furniture, Stairs and More: Glues that are created with the help of formaldehyde are excellent bonding agents. For instance, formaldehyde-based resins are used to make composite products. These resins are very common in manufacturing cabinetry, furniture, moldings, shelving, flooring, stair systems and other household furnishings.
- Other Use Cases: These other uses include the production of inks, wrinkle-free clothing, and preservatives.
What are the Properties of Formaldehyde that Will Affect the Pump Type and Pump Material you Select?
Formaldehyde is highly corrosive and extremely volatile. It is also extremely toxic and very small amounts can be deadly to humans and animals alike. These properties make a leak-free high-quality system for handling formaldehyde imperative. For pumping the chemical at room temperature, centrifugal sealless magnetic drive pumps built with Kynar Plastic or Polypropylene are recommended. Encapsulated Impeller and Teflon O-Rings will help to avoid any leaking of formaldehyde.
Depending on temperature and the concentration, formaldehyde can be heavy. To handle cases where specific gravity is more than 1.1, it is extremely important to use a trimmed impeller to avoid decoupling or overloading the motor.
What Materials Can Best Handle Formaldehyde?
While some metals like Hastelloy “C” can handle formal formaldehyde, plastics are more resistant to the chemical and bestow the pump with a longer leak-free life. In particular, Ryton, Polypropylene, Delrin, and Kynar show enhanced endurance when coming in contact with formaldehyde, but on the other hand, Nylon is not recommended at all. For bushings, Carbon, Ceramic, Mica Fill Teflon, and Ryton Teflon Carbon are all good choices depending on specific gravity and temperature. For O-rings, Teflon is recommended, while Viton should be avoided at all costs and Buna “N” shows performance problems and is not very wise to use.
Figure 1: Formaldehyde Concentrations and Pump Materials
A single or collection of material/s may be rated for a higher temperature/s then the pump as a whole is capable of. It is important to contact a March representative to determine if the pump as a complete unit is suitable for the concentration and temperature of any chemical.
Choosing the Right Formaldehyde Pump
Here at March Pumps, we offer a wide range of chemical pumps that cover virtually over any industry and special use case. The type of the pump you choose greatly depends on the concentration of the chemical, its temperature, specific gravity and many other factors.
For further info, we encourage you to have a look at our specially designed pumps for handling formaldehyde and contact our friendly support team for further assistance. Please give us a call or contact us online.