Improved Ethanol Sealing Protects Equipment

Improved ethanol sealing can be a massive benefit to the production process. It can also protect the critical pumps moving products, including waste. Even if a plant team thinks they have the best sealing technology, they could improve the tech or setup.

Why Are Ethanol and Other Biofuels Important?

Crude oil has a finite supply. Ethanol continues to be an essential fuel in the U.S. The use of ethanol and other biofuels may limit the amount of fuel and gasoline used from crude oil. In addition, ethanol is cleaner-burning than gasoline or diesel.

How Is Ethanol Made?

Ethanol is made by distilling different sugars. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, corn, sorghum, and barley are primary sources. Others are:

  • Rice
  • Sugar beets
  • Potato skins
  • Sugar cane
  • Yard clippings
  • Switchgrass

What Are the Challenges to Improved Ethanol Sealing?

Sealing specific equipment, especially pumps, during ethanol production is challenging. The feedstock becomes thick and sticky. It may adhere to equipment components, including the packing and mechanical seals. After the ethanol has been removed, the remnants are further evaporated. The end result is feed for livestock.

Examples of equipment that must be adequately sealed in ethanol processes are syrup pumps and evaporator pumps. At one East Coast ethanol plant, these assets’ failures were guaranteed in most instances before implementing a new systems approach.


What Seal Technologies Are Available?

At this ethanol plant, experiments in the following areas were carried out:

  • Mechanical seal choice
  • Barrier fluid selected
  • The environmental controls setup

Improved Ethanol Sealing


After pilot testing and assessments, particular seal technology saw more success in these challenging applications. However, selecting one component of this solution was only sometimes effective.

Combining the whole mechanical seal system typically experienced more success. A systems approach solved many things involving pumps and other industrial equipment.