Isolators meet gas-tight butterfly valves

Jozo Colic, RICO Sicherheitstechnik, explains the use of gas-tight butterfly valves to contain the dispersal of hazardous gasses, viruses or other media and focuses on pharma and cleanroom applications

Sealing certain areas in isolator applications, which are often used for the production of pharmaceuticals, is an imperative measure. Thus, a specific atmosphere for processing sensitive or hazardous substances is created that must stay in the working area. It is also important that neither germs nor bacteria enter the area, which could contaminate the product.

Sealing isolators often involve containment solutions or toxic processes, which are involved in weighing, filling, loading and unloading of freeze dryers or other critical procedures. To use these processes, a barrier is built between the operator and the product through the isolator housing. A ventilation system including a monitored pressure control built within the manufacturing plant increases the safety of the products, as well as the user.

The loading and unloading of substances take place via so-called mouse holes or adequate transfer systems. The plants provide an additional supply and return air system that cleans the airflow. The isolator interior, including its installation is sterilised via an integrated gas supply system before the process start of aseptic applications to ensure ideal conditions for the production procedure. It is essential that the gas does not reach the ambient air, hence requiring 100% gas-tightness. The gas-tight butterfly valves of the RICO Sicherheitstechnik are suitable for supply and return, on the air side of the isolator.

Costumer specific implementation

The RAPIDO gas-tight butterfly valves can be delivered in different nominal widths and are capable of controlling the airflow in the ventilation duct, therefore sealing the pipe 100% gas-tight. Depending on the application area, the dispersal of hazardous gasses, viruses or other media is effectively contained due to the absolute tightness.

Gas-tight butterfly valves are also available in different versions; options are based around the housing, the valve disc and the sealing material, but also around the drive. Depending on the needed requirements, the drive can be controlled manually, pneumatically or electronically.

RICO reviews its proven butterfly valves constantly in a move to meet the market’s current requirements. The round butterfly valve has been welcomed in the marketplace because of its compact and light design, its smooth housing surface and a proven test groove. The so-called "perkect" system allows for testing the valve’s tightness in its installed condition by means of a hand pump. As a control measure, the perkect system saves time in case of a leak; it is an effective tool to control the gas-tight capability.

The test pressure is built via a test groove, which is screwed in the housing. The seal implemented at the disc valve ensures that no pressure is released.

Another advantage is the very low wear that offers an outstanding functionality and hence the maximum possible security. Accruing maintenance work can be conducted quickly and without creating lengthy operation interruptions. The controls are in general orientated towards the supplier’s requirements.

The valves are thoroughly tested, especially when used in isolator plant applications. A frequent verification of the valve function is conducted automatically: plants in the pharmaceutical field, for instance, have to undergo a pressure test before commissioning. The process cannot start if the test is not successful. It would immediately stand out if anything was leaking.

All in all, the gas-tight RAPIDO butterfly valves create an ideal condition for smooth processes in isolators and production plants with especially high requirements regarding cleanliness and hygiene. It also offers employees a high level of safety since the reliable control of the plant’s leak tightness is easily managed.

In addition to the isolators, RAPIDO can also be used in cleanrooms. In this field, they are predestined for air regulation in cleanrooms, during filter changes and other applications.