Archive: Aug 2012

Drought in America and Vanguard

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drought damaged corn

Forget the recent Olympics for a minute. As far as the weather goes in the US, 2012 has been setting the sorts of records no one really wants to set.  Meteorologistsreport that it has been the hottest year on record in the lower 48 states.  As of July 31st, the National Drought Mitigation Center reports that over 50% of US counties are in a state of moderate drought or worse, a figure actually less than a week before.  The real trouble is happening in 2.52% of the US, where they are experiencing exceptional drought – and it’s a number that threatens to keep rising. While they believe this particular drought will subside, it doesn’t mean there will be much relief for producers of corn, soybeans, hay, and cattle for ‘12. If it continues as is projected, if drought-like conditions are the new norm, we will all be paying a lot more for just about everything we eat for years to come.

At Vanguard, while we don’t grow corn or raise cattle, we do manufacture and engineer many goods that are used in industries directly affected by the vicissitudes of nature.  On the one end our silicone seals, tubing, O-rings, and gaskets are used extensively in the agricultural industry for water purification, wastewater treatment, emergency water supplies, and the like. When there is no rain, you just can’t afford to lose water from poor seals. Our goods also play a crucial role in the bagging and packaging of foods after production, ensuring that food makes it to market safely and cleanly. Everyone at Vanguard is keeping close tabs on the weather forecast. We are all hoping for some rain, but in the meantime, our silicone tubing, seals, and O-rings are here for farmers at this, the most crucial of times for North American agriculture.

Vanguard’s Clean, High Performance Silicone And EPDM Products Provide Reliable Sealing And Fluid Transport For Critical Water Needs

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Dependably clean water–it is not only needed to sustain human life.  A reliable clean water supply is critical for the operation of many industries ranging from pharmaceuticals production to power plants and electrical production.  Without clean water, the internal workings of power plant systems can experience failures due to the buildup of residues contained in the water.  This could cause long term outages resulting in not only inconvenience, but economic disasters.  Without high purity water, it would be impossible to produce quality pharmaceuticals that meet the rigorous requirements that the FDA has set forth. 

With respect to human consumption, the supply of clean, potable water is growing more and more challenging.  Population growth is straining the already taxed water supply in environmentally-ravaged areas throughout Asia and Africa.  Furthermore, political unrest and military actions around the world require that a reliable water supply be provided to not only our military, but to those civilians caught in the area of conflict.  This is not to mention the needs for clean water required by those of us who enjoy “getting away” from civilization for a while by hiking, biking, or camping recreationally in the wilderness.

For all these requirements, Vanguard has you covered.  Our custom silicone o-rings are used in large scale permanent water treatment facilities around the world to provide reliable sealing for membrane and media filtration units.  These rings are formulated with clean silicone compounds that offer an extreme resistance to compression set, allowing their performance over the long term without leakage.  Our silicone tubing is used extensively in portable potable water systems where reliable fluid transport is a requirement even after long periods of storage, all without imparting taste or smell to the water.  Our EPDM extrusions and EPDM molded products have been used in sealing systems for wastewater treatment and reclamation systems for decades due to their durability and long life.

All in all, Vanguard is doing our part in working with our valued customers to increase the supply of this critical element around the world.

Vanguard Is At The Forefront Of The Worldwide Solar Energy Revolution

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solar collectors

Three decades ago, solar energy usage on a broad scale to power large sections of the population seemed to be a pipe dream.   Based upon the technology of the day, it was assumed that “direct conversion” solar cells could never be efficient enough to generate enough power to make their use commercially feasible on a large scale, and their costs made wide scale use unrealistic.  Further, solar reflector, collector, and steam turbine technologies of the time were not advanced enough to warrant consideration for use in multi-megawatt power plants.

Over the past several years, the technological landscape has changed considerably with respect to solar energy.  Direct conversion solar cells are becoming less costly to the point where many individual residential installations make economic sense.  Further, reflector and turbine technology has now advanced to the point where it is now feasible to build solar power plants that can generate greater than 250 megawatts of power.  Industrial sites that utilize steam power are now using solar collectors to augment their traditional steam generation, thus reducing their dependence on traditional fossil fuels or electricity.

From a materials and applications standpoint, these installations present some daunting challenges.  The most effective solar installations are located in areas of intense solar radiation and wide temperature swings.  Take for instance the largest solar installations in Asia and in Australia.  These are located in areas where the average solar radiation can approach  7 kWh/square meter/day and the temperature can go from close to freezing all the way to well over 100F.   Any material that is used in these systems must not only hold up to long periods of high heat and radiation without degradation, but must also be adaptable to the low temperature exposure as well.  Further, the weather environment in these installation locations can be among the most brutal on earth, with weather phenomenons such as brutal sandstorms or torrential tropical rains.

 To that effect, Vanguard Products has provided solar energy developers with high-quality silicone materials that can withstand the intense heat, wind, dust-storms, and UV radiation over the long haul, while providing consistent reliable sealing and fluid transport. Our ability to tailor our custom silicone extrusions, moldings and tubing from both the design and materials standpoint has made us a “supplier of choice” for these types of applications.  Further, we are able to provide long term durable options with respect to mounting and installation, such as high performance pressure sensitive adhesive mounting.  We are looking forward to continuing and growing our supply to this industry in the future in support of the global efforts to increase the use of renewable energy.