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Steve Grinter, Managing Director - Hyphose ltd

Custom Fittings are considered a close and valued business partner of Hyphose Ltd. We have found their staff knowledgeable, helpful with a professional approach and supply high quality products from t... Steve Grinter, Managing Director - Hyphose ltd

Chris  Hargreaves, Managing Director - GS Hydro UK

"Custom Fittings are a 1st tier supplier to GS Hydro for stainless steel high and low pressure hydraulic components. For over 20 years Custom Fittings have been our preferred supplier due to the high ... Chris Hargreaves, Managing Director - GS Hydro UK

Janet Dixon, Events Manager - The British Fluid Power Association

“Custom Fittings; those guys know how to enjoy themselves. If you want a good night out or a restaurant recommendation, look no further. They also produce some very good hose fittings and other ... Janet Dixon, Events Manager - The British Fluid Power Association

Anthony Smith, Sales Director - Fluid Power Services Ltd

"Custom Fittings have been the number one supplier for stainless steel fittings to Fluid Power Services for over 25 years now.In the early years our requirements were for standard off the shelf parts ... Anthony Smith, Sales Director - Fluid Power Services Ltd

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Our latest news posts

  • Scratching the Salty Surface of Desalination!

    30 Oct 2014

    Scratch beneath that salty surface of desalination, and the process reveals itself to be a bit of an adventure. There is a history to the removal of salt from seawater, and it makes for an interesting read.

     

    Desalination in Nature

    Before looking on the story of desalination, it should be noted that seabirds have employed the process for centuries. Ever wondered what migrating seabirds drink during the gruelling trips, which sometimes find them hundreds of miles from the land? As they can’t drink seawater, these birds have developed a counter current exchange process in their beaks. The highly concentrated brine is sneezed out through their nostrils. Pelicans, albatrosses, gulls, petrels and terns all have desalination systems within their beaks. Sea ice also removed salt from seawater, which is largely expelled during the freezing process. And mangrove trees are adept at purifying seawater, by filtering it into their leaves, which they then shed, or by trapping it in their roots system, which are then eaten by sea crustaceans.

     

    Desalination Plants

    How has man adapted this process to suit his needs? Desalination plants are in a state of flux, currently. Whilst they are globally widespread, their cost and high-energy needs makes them a mixed blessing, environmentally. Two methods have been used in modern plants since the 1950s – reverse osmosis and multistage flash, which have improved the cost and energy requirements, however not significantly enough.

     

    Reverse osmosis

    Reverse osmosis is, simply, as form of filtration, but one that requires the saltwater to be put under high pressure in order for it to pass through the incredibly fine filtering membranes. Because the filter is so fine, hydraulic pumps are needed to force the water through. Hydraulic hose fittings come under extreme pressure during this process, as the larger salt crystals are left on one side of the membrane, and pure water is produced on the other. The process is high-maintenance, as the filters need frequent cleaning and de-clogging.

     

    Multistage Flash

    This method requires high levels of heat to convert saltwater into pure water, by boiling. This happens rapidly (hence ‘flash’) and during each boiling stage the water vapour produced is collected. The brine is left behind at the end of this multi-stage process.

     

    The Future of Desalination

    Clearly, desalination is labour and energy intensive. Currently, on two-tenths of a percent of the water consumed globally comes from desalinated salt water. With temperatures destined to rise, and hot countries most at risk, the hunt is on for a more efficient way of processing saltwater. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is currently working on a way of purifying seawater at a nano level, by employing electrostatic ion-selective membranes. This removes the need for high pressure and heat associated with existing methods. However, ‘ion concentration polarization’, as they have named it, cannot be used to produce vast quantities of water at this stage. Current applications would be only for portable water purifying units, powered by solar energy. These could be lifesavers in disaster areas, when infrastructure has broken down. This exciting new phase in desalination heralds a new dawn, and one that we expect to hear more about in the future.

     

    World Leaders

    Leading the pack when it comes to desalination is Israel, who produce 40% of their domestic usage water via desalination. The largest desalinations plant in the world, however, is in the UAE. The Jebel Ali Desalination plant is a modern wonder, with eight multi-stage flash units. We tried to calculate the length of stainless steel piping, the number of stainless steel hose fittings and BSP Adaptors they must have used in its construction, but we gave up. Suffice it to say, the plant produces 17.5 million gallons of pure water a day…

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  • Brewing Beer and the use of Stainless Steel Hose fittings

    22 Oct 2014

    Stainless steel is used in almost every stage of the beer brewing process. It is a material ideally suited to food and drink production, as it is easy to clean, does not taint food products, and can be sterilized. It is also extremely robust, and is used in products that boil liquids for long periods of time. It is also perfect for use in the chilling processes. The lorries that we see on our roads transporting milk and beer carry these liquids in stainless steel tanks, which are hosed out after each journey by specialist truck cleaning operators.

     

    Brewers make extensive use of stainless steel, but sometimes, smaller breweries will clad their equipment in copper, for a traditional look, this will not extend to the fittings used. They will always now be stainless steel to prevent conamination. Old-fashioned brewing techniques are no longer possible, due to health concerns. Before the arrival of stainless steel, beer was fermented in wooden barrels, which needed a great deal of maintenance. Not only did they have to be laboriously cleaned out but, even when clean, there were often bugs and organisms still present which could easily taint batches of beer. The inside of the wooden containers would need to be re-pitched to keep them waterproof, and there is no doubt that pitch would taint the beer during the storage process.

     

    Hygienic hose fittings and other technical advancements, mean that contamination of beer via dirty equipment is a thing of the past. Stainless steel has offered revolutionary improvements to the food and drink industries: from the super-effective stainless steel hydraulic hose fittings used in lifting gear, to easily sterilized tanks and joints, every aspect of transport and production has benefitted the food production business.

     

    The Brewing Process Brewing can be broken down in to about nine processes, almost all of which involve stainless steel equipment. After milling and malting the grain goes through the following procedures before beer is finally produced.

    • Mashing – this is a process whereby malted milled grain is mixed with water, and heated, to allow the production of maltose. Enzymes are triggered to break down the starches in the grain, and convert them into sugars. This is process takes place in vast stainless steel tanks.

    • Lautering is a process that aims to separate extracts produced during the mashing stage, which is known as wort. This is done in a stainless steel ‘lauter tun’, or a mash filter.

    • The wort is then boiled to sterilise it, and hops can be added in various quantities. Each beer has a different recipe. The boiling takes place in stainless steel boiling tanks, and must be an even boil which last between one and two hours.

    • The cooled wort is then allowed to ferment, a process that begins with the addition of yeast. Once the yeast is added and fermentation has begun, the liquid can finally be called beer.

     

    Fermentation tanks can be huge, depending on the size of the brewery. Some large breweries have cylindroconical tanks that look like silage silos, and which are conical at the base and cylindrical at the top. The yeast and other debris created during fermentation will collect in the cone at the bottom of the tank, and can be drained out via a port. During fermentation, the sugars from the malt begin to metabolise into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Whilst this occurs, the yeast and other solids will gradually sink down to the base of the tank. Heating and Cooling

     

    The heating processes in small breweries are sometimes done via direct fire techniques – literally heating kettles of wort over a fire. Smaller breweries will maintain this quaint tradition, but commercial breweries use pressurised steam. The cooling process is facilitated by the use of cooling jackets, which are applied to the storage tanks, with the temperature controlled by the cooling operator. The operators have full control of the temperature of each tank, allowing for adjustments to be made to each recipe. If large batches of one type of beer are being made, the whole area containing the tanks will be cooled.

     

    Next time you raise a glass in your local pub, think of the stainless steel used at every stage of its production, all of which has contributed to its taste and safety.

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