Y-strainers find their ways into all kinds of applications – including food preparation, cosmetics, diesel engines, and the petroleum industry.
So, this week, we thought we’d talk a little about the different ways they are used.
What is a Y-strainer?
As a refresher, y-strainers are pipe fittings which remove particulates from liquids or gas via a filtering element intersecting the main channel.
You can see a picture of a y-strainer above (to the right). Notice that the filter leg connects to the main pipe at a diagonal angle, giving the strainer its “y” shape, and hence its name.
A cylindrical strainer element – usually wire mesh with some structural support - fits into the leg. The element traps material too large to fit through the filter openings which then settles at the bottom of the leg. Periodically, the cap on the leg is removed and the accumulated dirt/trash/undissolved solution can be cleaned from the system.
Some y-strainers come with automated systems called “blow-off valves,” which make clean up much simpler. Those valves pump out the assorted gunk that has been collected with much less manual labor.
Y-strainers help protect valuable downstream equipment - like pumps, steam traps, regulators and measuring devices - which might be damaged by contaminants.
Of course, you will find y-strainers in many steam applications, for which they are considered a standard component. The part’s shape and construction make it ideal for handling high pressures put out by steam.
But y-strainers are not just used in those applications.
Where are y-strainers used?
If you look inside a gas station pump, you'll find y-strainers doing much of the work.
The oil and gas industry uses the large y-strainers to clean the tar, gum, and other materials out of products - from gasoline to crude oil. Oil refineries use strainers to keep harmful materials out of the pumps that run their plants.
Diesel engines use a y-strainer between the fuel tank and the fuel pump to prevent clogging caused by impurities in the diesel.
Y-strainers can be used as an intermediate or even final filtering element in biofuel production, if the straining element is able to keep out ultrafine particles.
Commercial buildings sometimes use y-strainers to keep their cooling towers and boilers from releasing scale into the water.
Chemical production operations use pipeline filters like y-strainers to ensure a cleaner product, as well as ensuring downstream equipment is not adversely affected. Likewise, the cosmetics industry uses the strainers to remove clumps of undissolved semi-solids before the product is completed.
In food production, strainers are used to remove solids, like pulp and skin, from fruit juices. Strainers are used to remove lumps from chocolate syrup and wax from honey.
In all of these industries and more, y-strainers make up a part of the fluid cleaning processes which make the products better.
A Quick Recap
Y-Strainers are most often used in applications which don’t require frequent cleaning and where the amount of the materials to be removed is relatively low.
For processes which gather more dirt and debris, the blow-off connection allows the screen to be cleaned without taking off the strainer cap.