Breakaway couplings are safety devices that protect personnel and terminal and loading/unloading equipment during the transport of high-value yet hazardous service liquids such as petrochemicals, solvents, and acids. They prevent the catastrophic and costly consequences of a sudden break in fluid transfer processes and pull-away/drive incidents.
These high-quality couplings are designed to disconnect or break away upon reaching a predetermined load or tension, such as when there is an abrupt change in pressure in the hose/pipeline, the hose ruptures, or if a vessel accidentally drifts away from its mooring. Breakaway couplings are available in marine and industrial types, which are fit for different use cases.
What are marine breakaway couplings?
As its name implies, a marine breakaway coupling is an essential safety feature used in fluid transfers in marine and offshore environments for loading or discharging vessels. The basic idea is that given the unpredictability and quickness of the events that put fluid transfers between a tanker and installation at risk, these breakaway couplings act as a breaker or cut-out that shuts down fluid flow and separates the coupling before the hose breaks to prevent product spillage. This mechanism prevents disastrous safety and environmental consequences that can vary depending on the fluid transferred.
Marine breakaway couplings are generally larger and more robust than their industrial counterparts due to being designed for the harsh conditions in the marine environment. In addition, they come with additional external features that provide improved resistance to bending and torsional movement forces that could affect the coupling and ensure premature activation does not occur.
These couplings are always installed between two strings of hose that transfer fluids such as LNG, crude oil, and other volatile chemicals between ships, onshore facilities, and offshore platforms. It is important to note that MBCs will only break away at a straight pull, will not release at an angular pull, and can be automatically or manually reset.
What are industrial breakaway couplings?
On the other hand, industrial breakaway couplings are used in all sorts of applications, but mainly for transferring chemicals, gas, and oil industrial settings. They share many similarities with their marine counterpart, mainly to protect personnel and equipment from unwanted product spillage due to a sudden hose or pipe breakage. Industrial breakaway couplings also work in the same way by automatically separating the pipe or hose into two parts upon reaching a predetermined load or tension threshold. They can also be automatically or manually reset.
Where industrial couplings begin to differ from marine couplings is in their size, release angle, and installation. First, they are smaller than marine couplings, which means reduced flow rate and velocity. Second, they should always be installed on at least one fixed point, whether at the end of pipes, loading arms, or hose assemblies with one side fastened to a secure joint. And lastly, industrial breakaway couplings can typically release at any angle ranging from 0° to 90° instead of just a straight pull, allowing for more flexibility and leeway for disconnection.
Although both types of breakaway couplings share many similarities, they have minute differences to take note of. Marine breakaway couplings are specifically designed for use in the open seas. They are thus more robust and come with additional features, while industrial breakaway couplings are better suited for general industrial settings.
Here at Pharmchem Engineering, we offer a vast assortment of dry disconnect couplings and breakaway couplings that ensure the total safety of your operations. In addition, we also provide many other components and parts for all your industrial engineering needs, including hoses, sanitary fittings, and expansion joints. And should you need a more customised solution, our experts can deliver everything you need for your project.