The term alcohol identifies a class of organic substances used in many industries such as chemical, food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics.
Chemical Characteristics of Alcohol
Alcohol is a chemical product with excellent solvent capacity and as a consequence, it has the ability to extract substances from the materials it comes into contact with. Alcohol is often diluted in different concentrations (the most common is the solution water-ethanol). For this reason, the capacity of the alcohol to extract may change considerably.
Not surprisingly, alcohol is used to perform migration testing according to European Standards for the food industry, to check the behaviour of rubber compounds and the release of substances into the contact liquid.
There are two other important characteristics of the alcoholic products: high volatility and easy flammability. It means that the alcohol-based liquid can evaporate easily and as a consequence the vapour spreading in the workplace can easily generate a potentially explosive atmosphere also called “ATEX area”
Applications in the Food and Beverage Industry
The most popular example of the use of alcohol is certainly in the beverage industry (ethyl alcohol). In this case, the alcohol may be present at high concentrations (at the beginning of the production process), or in medium / low concentrations in the case of final product (distillate, wine, beer etc.). The two applications may require different hoses.
Alcohol in High Concentrations
In the first case, MTG suggests a hose for chemical products. In fact, highly concentrated alcohol is easily flammable, so for this application an antistatic hose is recommended, such as our product MANICHEM UPE MARBLE or MANIPHARM UPE.
Both hoses are produced with a UPE inner liner also suitable for contact with beverage and foodstuffs. The chemical resistance and the degree of impermeability of this thermoplastic material are normally higher than rubber compounds. The result is a greater ability to resist the extractive action of alcohol, offering the possibility of preserving the purity of the latter and the organoleptic properties of the alcoholic beverage at the end of the production process.
Alcohol in Medium / Low Concentrations
In the second case, since the alcoholic beverage is the result of a production processing and therefore it is suitable for human consumption, MTG suggests a food grade hose. The proposed solution varies according to the type of drink and the alcohol content: here are some examples.
LIQUORFLEX and FLEXYFOOD hoses are both used for the transfer of distillates. The second is produced with a helix wire resistant to accidental crushing. The BREWART hose line is used in breweries, while the hoses DRINKS and SLIDEFLEX find application for transfer of wine and other beverages with medium-low alcohol content.
Pharma and Cosmetic Industry
Alcohol is used in many different applications also in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry. In both cases, alcohol is an ingredient used as a solvent for the production of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) or as main ingredient. The hoses used for these applications, i.e. at the first stage of the production process, are chemical hoses, which, in addition to chemical resistance to the product conveyed, has to face the risk of potential electrostatic charges generated by the medium. In this case, the hose has to be designed with antistatic materials.
Extractables & Leachables
In the pharmaceutical as well as in the cosmetic industry, whatever the stage of the production process, the analysis of the Extractables & Leachables and the level of biocompatibility of the materials become crucial. In fact, operators of this industry must pay particular attention to the possible contamination by “extractables”, i.e. substances extracted from the material of the hose inner liner or resulting from any cross-contamination, which can alter the purity of the product conveyed.
Risk Assessment in Production
Pharmaceutical companies are studying Extractables & Leachables as an integral part of the risk assessment in the production environment. The hoses for the production of active ingredients, as well as the hoses for the intermediate processes, must guarantee chemical resistance to the medium, but also ensure the purity of the latter in all phases of product processing up to packaging.
Therefore, all the hoses for pharmaceutical applications have to meet the requirements of biocompatibility according to the pharmaceutical standards of the US Pharmacopoeia and the safety standards of the ICH Guidelines.
Applications in the Pharmaceutical Industry
For critical applications in the pharmaceutical industry, it is frequently required a hose with perfluoropolymer liner, with antistatic or insulation properties. Hoses must ensure excellent chemical resistance and maximum impermeability at every stage of processing. For these purposes, MTG has developed the DYNAMIC® hose line with inner liner in PFA (Perfluoroalkoxy).
Within this range, MTG can offer hoses specifically designed for use in ATEX areas, such as DYNAMIC® SAFE-TECH (“full Ω” hose design) and DYNAMIC® ANTISTATIC (with antistatic cover). However, in case antistatic materials are not requested, and purity is the main requirement, the recommended hose is DYNAMIC® BB. E&L tests are available upon request for product validation.
Alcohol is a chemical product and it must be considered as such. The choice towards a hose must take into consideration the implications coming from particular applications and on the results to be obtained. The conditions of use and the associated risk play a critical role in the choice of the hose, in order to preserve the key quality attributes of the product and to ensure safety in the workplace.
The MTG technical staff is available to support customers by recommending the most suitable hose for each application. For information, please send an email with the request to the following email address email@example.com.