Boiler Combustion Efficiency System Pays Dividends

Industrial Boiler
Industrial Boiler
Steam and hot water use is prevalent throughout industrial processes. Production of these two media is most commonly accomplished with a boiler, many of which are heated by combustion of fossil fuel. Fuel fired boilers of a certain size become the focus of regulatory requirements for emissions. All boilers consume what would be construed by their owners as large amounts of costly fuel. Because of their high pressure and temperature, and the presence of a controlled combustion within an occupied facility, safety is a paramount concern.

There, fortunately, is a single solution that can help to attain useful goals with the three concerns of safety, fuel cost, and regulatory compliance. Applying an efficiency controller to manage the fuel to air ratio of the combustion system will deliver benefits far in excess of the cost to incorporate the necessary devices. The three basic goals for the fuel air controller are:
  • Maximize fuel efficiency
  • Minimize regulated emissions
  • Maintain safe operating condition
A good portion of all three goals can be accomplished through careful concerted parallel control of combustion air supply and fuel supply. The fuel air ratio must be subject to continual adjustment in response to current air conditions (which can vary on a daily basis) and the level of O2 in the flue gas. Controlling the air fuel ratio supports the following goals:
  • Preventing excess fuel vapors from entering the flue and creating an unsafe condition
  • Providing the correct amount of air to effectively combust the fuel supplied to the burner
  • Preventing excess air flow from reducing net heat transfer to the feedwater
  • Maintaining regulated emissions within required limits
  • Limiting fuel consumption to the minimum necessary to meet demand
Fireye® is a leading manufacturer of flame safeguard controls and burner management systems for commercial and industrial applications throughout the world. Their products, the first of which was developed in the 1930's, enhance the safety and efficiency of all fuel fired burners.

There are numerous capabilities built in to the company's PPC4000 series of fuel air ratio controllers. Some of the more notable include:
  • Precise fuel air ratio attained using parallel control of servos to regulate fuel and air supplies.
  • User selected burner profiles
  • Alarm contacts
  • PID operation
  • An array of inputs and outputs to accommodate sensors and devices needed to monitor and control boiler operation
  • Compatible with other products that provide additional flame and burner monitoring safety
  • Multiple boiler sequencing and cold start thermal shock protection
  • On board boiler efficiency calculation
  • User interface, optional larger touchscreen interface
Glance through just the first two pages of the document below to get a full description of the capability of this compact and comprehensive controller. You can get more detailed information, or get a professional evaluation of your current system efficiency, by contacting the combustion experts at CTi Controltech.

Liquid Level Measurement With Differential Pressure

Flange mount differential pressure transmitter for liquid level measurement
Flange mount differential pressure transmitter
Courtesy Azbil North America
Industrial process operations frequently involve the use of liquid storage tanks for raw materials, in-process liquids, or finished product. Regardless of the tank usage, the data point indicating the liquid level in the tank is useful for effective process operation and safety.

Deriving tank liquid level can be accomplished utilizing a number of technologies, classed as direct or inferred. Direct level readings indicate level by interacting with the interface of the liquid surface and the unfilled area of the tank. A simple example of this would be a float, the position of which is read on a scale or transmitted to a controller. Inferential measurements are derived by directly measuring a condition which is affected in a predictable manner by the tank liquid level.

Differential pressure is an inferential methodology for determining liquid level. A differential pressure transmitter measures the total pressure of the fluid column and subtracts the pressure exerted on the surface of the liquid, delivering a signal indicating the net pressure exerted by the liquid column in the vessel. This value can be used to calculate the height of the liquid column, weight of the fluid, percentage of tank fill, or other useful values. The differential pressure method of liquid level measurement has some key features:
  • Cost effective
  • Limited moving parts in a complete installation, generally consisting of isolation valves for transmitter servicing
  • Best applied to clean liquids with known uniform density
  • Provides good accuracy over a wide operating range
  • Easily mounted or retrofitted to vessel surfaces
  • Low maintenance requirements
  • Specifically designed seals can be utilized to provide hygienic vessel connections, or device protection from high temperature or corrosive process media
Like any measurement technology, the differential pressure method of liquid level measurement provides the best results when properly installed and maintained. There are numerous installation configurations and options to fulfill a wide variety of applications. A product application specialist can help you specify the best arrangement for your application.

Industrial Valves - When Butterfly Valve Is The Best Choice

Industrial butterfly valve cutaway
Butterfly Valve
Courtesy Durco - Flowserve
Industrial process control valves are available in uncountable combinations of materials, types, and configurations. An initial step of the selection procedure for a valve application should be choosing the valve type, thus narrowing the selection field to a more manageable level. Valve "types" can generally be classified by the closing mechanism of the valve.

A butterfly valve has a disc that is positioned in the fluid flow path. It rotates around a central axis, the stem, through a 90 degree arc from a position parallel to the flow direction (open) to perpendicular (closed). A variety of materials are used in the valve body construction, and it is common to line the valve with another material to provide special properties accommodating particular process media.

What attributes might make a butterfly valve a beneficial selection over another valve type?

Manually operated industrial butterfly valve
Manually Operated Butterfly Valve
Courtesy Ebro Armaturen

  • The closure arrangement allows for a comparatively small size and weight. This can reduce the cost, space, and support requirements for the valve assembly.
  • Generally low torque requirements for valve operation allow for manual operation, or automation with an array of electric, pneumatic, or hydraulic actuators.
  • Low pressure drop associated with the closure mechanism. The disc in the flow path is generally thin. In the fully open position, the disc presents its narrow edge to the direction of flow.
  • Quarter turn operation allows for fast valve operation.
  • Some throttling capability is provided at partially open positions.
  • Small parts count, low maintenance requirements.

What may be some reasons to consider other valve types?

  • Butterfly valve throttling capability is generally limited to low pressure drop applications
  • Cavitation can be a concern.
  • Some sources mention the possibility of choked flow as a concern under certain conditions.

Butterfly valves, like other valve types, have applications where they outperform. Careful consideration and consultation with a valveexpert is a first step toward making a good selection. Combine your process know-how with the product application expertise of a professional sales engineer to produce the best solutions to your process control challenges.

Severe Service Valves - More Than Just Heavy Duty

Three industrial valves for severe service
Severe Service Industrial Control Valves
Courtesy Flowserve - Kammer
Industrial process control applications can be associated with some very stringent and challenging performance requirements for the physical equipment and components that are part of the process chain. In fluid based operations, the control valves can be a point of significant impact of extreme fluid conditions, requiring careful design and selection consideration to assure proper performance and safety levels are maintained in a predictable way.

Industrial valves that are intended for application at the extremes are generally referred to as severe service valves. While there are plenty of published and accepted standards for industrial valves, one does not exist to precisely define a severe service valve.
So, how do you know when to focus valve selection activities on severe service valves, as opposed to general purpose valves?
There are a number of basic criteria that might point you in that direction:

  • Very extreme media or environmental temperature
  • High pressure drop operation that may cause cavitation
  • Rapid and extreme changes to inlet pressure
  • Certain types or amounts of solids contained in the fluid
Certainly, any of these criteria might be found in an application serviceable by a general purpose valve, but their presence should be an indicator that a closer assessment of the fluid conditions and commensurate valve requirements is in order. The key element for a process stakeholder is to recognize when conditions are in evidence that might overrun the capabilities of a general purpose valve, leading to premature failure in control performance or catastrophic failure that produces an unsafe condition. Once the possibility of a severe service condition is identified, a careful analysis of the possible operating conditions will reveal the performance requirements for the valve.

There are numerous manufacturers of severe service valves, each seeming to concentrate on a particular niche. Kammer, a brand in the Flowserve family, has an interesting approach to accommodating the highly varied requirements of severe service applications. Their product line consists of a number of standard configurations, but also includes semi-modular components that can be combined to meet the many custom requirements of severe service applications.

I have included a technical bulletin (you know it's technical when it's not in color) that describes and nicely illustrates how the company employs various interchangeable body styles and packings with their multi-stage plug to meet a wide range of severe service challenges. Browse the bulletin, as it has some good cutaway views of valve interiors. 

You can always get more information, or discuss your special requirements, with a product application specialist. They have access to technical resources that can help with selecting the right valve components to meet your severe service applications.

Industrial Process Control Valve Quality Detail

Industrial process control valve
Wafer Style Resilient Seated Butterfly Valve
Courtesy EBRO Armaturen
Industrial process control operations have a lot riding on every component integral to the process. The operator's challenge is to get every individual element to work as planned, every time. Most process engineers would likely agree with the premise that high quality components tend to deliver higher reliability and consistent performance. Employing properly specified, high quality, componentry throughout a process installation is a generally accepted methodology for achieving the goal of consistent process output and quality.

Any process that involves fluid is bound to have valves as primary control elements. Proper selection from among the many different types used for process control, as well as the many manufacturers, can be a challenge in its own right.
How do you determine the quality level of a valve?
In industrial valves, like many products, it's in construction details that quality resides. One manufacturer, EBRO Armaturen, gives us a detailed look inside and throughout their soft seal butterfly valve. The video is included below, and it is short and to the point.

Attention to detail is what makes your operation work at its best performance level. That same level of attention also contributes to the design and manufacture of a great product. Invest two minutes to watch the video. The construction details are educational, probably things you did not know. You can get more information, or discuss your process control challenges, through contact with an application specialist.

Vibrating Tuning Fork Level Switches - Classical Tech With Modern Application

Industrial Vibrating Tuning Fork Level Switch
Vibrating Tuning Fork Level Switch
Courtesy Clark Reliance - Jerguson
Tuning forks,when combined with appropriate electronics, can be used in the industrial process control field as liquid level switches. This simple, all solid state device can be a cost effective solution to wide ranging requirements for single point level detection.

This type of level switch is designed using the principles of a tuning fork.  Piezo-electric crystals induce fork oscillation at a fundamental frequency.  Employed as a high level indicator or alarm, the forks vibrate in air until the liquid level rises and covers the forks. The liquid measurably dampens the fork vibration frequency when it covers the sensor. The level switch electronics detect the frequency shift and change the state of a relay to provide an indication of the change. A variety of output options can provide on/off load switching or a direct interface with a PLC. Use the level detectors as high or low level switches with proper configuration. 

A primary advantage of the vibrating tuning fork level switch is its all solid state design. There are no floats or other mechanical linkages. It is also generally unaffected by flow, bubbles, foam, vibration, or solids content. They can also be installed in any orientation. Variants are available for special installations that may require hygienic fittings or explosion proof housings.

Explore these level switches for your applications. Share you requirements with a product specialist and attain the best solution.

Specialty Ball Valve - Self Cleaning Flushable

Industrial ball valve
Self-Cleaning Flushable Ball Valve
Courtesy PBM Valve Solutions
For some industrial fluid process operations, one of the shortcomings of ball valves can be their propensity to trap small amounts of process fluid when they are operated. This is troublesome on two fronts. Firstly, a process that changes media between operations can be subject to contamination from the trapped fluid. Secondly, the fluid trap is detrimental to any attempt to sanitize the process line. A variant of the common ball valve, a self-cleaning flushable version, eliminates costly downtime required to disassemble, clean and reassemble traditional valves. Self-cleaning flushable ball valves, from PBM Valve Solutions, can be used in a variety of processes including food, beverage, paints, resins, chemicals, consumer products, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics.

In the video below, you can see how the special features of this innovative valve design work. Contact a product specialist to explore how you can bring the advantages of this innovative valve to your process.

Dual Input Temperature Transmitter Has Some Useful Applications

Industrial temperature transmitter
Advanced Temperature Transmitter
Courtesy Azbil N.A.
Temperature measurement is a mainstay of many commercial and industrial processes and operations. Much can be deduced from an accurate measure of process temperature, and a large segment of the industrial control products marketplace is devoted to reliable and accurate measurement of temperature

There are a variety of instruments and methodologies for measuring temperature, the most common of which is probably direct contact between the substance under scrutiny and a temperature sensor of some type. In industrial process applications, contact sensors are often thermocouples or resistance temperature detectors (RTD), chosen for their cost, accuracy, and flexibility of installation.

Every operating process is "critical" to some group of stakeholders. The process may be of great importance for a number of reasons:

  • The process output may serve as an input to another process with great value.
  • The process output may be of great direct value to the stakeholders.
  • The process may have significant levels of hazard associated with improper or out of control operation.
  • Out of control operation may result in substantial financial loss to the stakeholders.
When temperature is an important indicator of process function, whether for financial or safety reasons, the operator cannot tolerate a loss of the temperature signal. One manufacturer has an advanced solution in the form of a dual input temperature transmitter with built in functions that:
  • Switch to the backup sensor if the primary has a failure indication.
  • Alert the operator if the deviation between the two sensor readings indicates sensor drift. 
  • In wide range temperature applications, switch between sensors with differing measurement ranges for better accuracy.
Along with HART communications and other useful features, these advanced temperature transmitters can help reduce risk and increase performance and safety. Assess how these advanced devices can enhance your process performance. A product data sheet is included below. Product specialists can help with product configuration and selection, along with any application concerns you may have.

Company Overview - Victory Energy Operations

Industrial Boiler
Industrial Water Tube Boiler
Courtesy Victory Energy
CTI-Controltech represents Victory Energy Operations in California. The company designs, engineers, manufactures and services heat recovery steam generators, industrial boilers, fired packaged boilers, waste heat boilers and related equipment. Target markets include power generation, bio-renewable, oil sands, petrochemical, district heating, education and healthcare. Victory Energy also offers mobile/rental boilers, auxiliary equipment such as economizers, deaerators and stacks. Services include full-time aftermarket field services and aftermarket spare parts. 

Victory is a full service provider, from design and manufacturing to service and repair. Learn about this truly 21st century company from the video included below. You can always contact the industrial control and combustion specialists at CTI Controltech for solutions to your combustion, steam, and other HVAC challenges.

Improved Local Display On Rotork Valve Actuators

Industrial Valve Actuator
IQM Modulating Valve Actuator
Courtesy Rotork
Rotork IQ3 Electric Valve Actuators, a product line handled by CTI Controltech, offer some innovative improvements that provide industrial process operators higher levels of reliability, accessibility, and security than previously available. Among the strong features of this product:

  • Advanced Display (detailed in the video below)
  • Asset Management
  • Bluetooth Communications Interface
  • Compact Double-Sealed Enclosure
  • Absolute Encoder (on some variants)
  • Intelligent Battery Management
  • Local Interface
  • Secure Local Controls
  • Watertight, Dust Tight, Explosion Proof
There is plenty of detail available about all the features of the solidly built IQ3 line of actuators for industrial process valve control. Watch the video and contact a product specialist to get more detail or assess your specific application needs.

CTI Controltech Company Overview

Electric Power Plant Generating Facility
Electric Power Plant
One of many industries served by CTi Controltech
CTi Controltech is a San Ramon, California based engineering contractor and distributor specializing in industrial process control and combustion.  The company combines engineeringfield services, and quality hardware to provide value-engineered solutions for projects involving combustion and industrial process control. CTi approaches each application challenge by analyzing specific performance requirements, along with customer growth plans and budgets, to formulate the best solution. In some cases, multi-year strategies have been developed to ensure the proposed solution contributes to the customer's desired outcome.

CTi Controltech was founded in 1976 by Art von Wronksi and Allan Zensius, both of whom had extensive burner/boiler and industrial controls experience. Together they built the company, achieving a regionally recognized leadership position in the combustion controls industry. Since 2002, George Constas has owned and operated CTi Controltech, drawing on his many years of process control industry and executive experience. Today CTi’s expertise has expanded beyond its original focus on burner management and combustion control into other areas of process control in industries such as; Refining, Power (including renewable such as Geothermal and Solar), Food, Specialty Chemicals, Mining, Semi-conductor, and OEMs. CTi Controltech maintains a staff of engineers, technicians, and sales/support personnel to provide technical assistance, field service, engineering, and order processing.

A good company with a long successful history. Learn more about CTi Controltech. View their product line card below and bring them in for a consultative discussion on your next project of any size.

Straight Talk on Why It May Be Best to Outsource a Project

Industrial process measurement and control entails projects, lots of projects. Equipment and instruments that are the life of our processes periodically need modification, replacement, major service or maintenance. Large scale work is generally contracted out for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that the manpower, equipment, or license and certification requirements are beyond what the stakeholder (the company) may possess . But on smaller projects, an organization is often confronted with the decision of whether to do the work in house or contract it out. There are potential perils and rewards, regardless of the path you take.

Industrial site project manager
Do your project work in-house or contract it out?
I'm a guest writer on this blog, sharing my personal opinion on the subject. As additional disclosure, I share with you that the host of this blog, CTI Controltech, supports in-house project work by their customers with consulting, advice, and the provision of parts and equipment that they sell. The company also provides construction, engineering, and field services, making them a supporter of both in-house and contracted efforts by their customers.
The title of this article reveals my leanings on the issue of whether to outsource. Based upon my own project experience and observations of others in their pursuit of project completion, I am generally in favor of it.
With my bias exposed, prior to determining whether to use internal or external resources, still take the time to document some elemental project requirements.

  • What is the starting condition of the project? It is important to systematically assess the existing conditions, as they have a substantive impact on the scope of work needed to be accomplished to reach the point of completion.
  • What is to be the ending condition of the project, the definition of "completion"? There must be a defined ending condition that, once achieved, signals that the project is complete. Start with a general statement and add details garnered from various stakeholders. Keep in mind that the end condition will need to satisfy all stakeholders, so their input should be influential.
  • How much time is allowed to complete the work? This pertains to the needs of the company, not the time required to accomplish the task. If there is a deadline for the project, it must be known. An example would be completion of combustion efficiency upgrades prior to the effective date for a new emissions standard. It's not when the work can be done, but when it must be done
  • How much time will be required to complete the work? This may be difficult to ascertain at project inception, but some allowance should be assigned to planning, equipment and material procurement, actual hands-on trade and technical work, startup, testing, commissioning, and final documentation and training. This exercise will help you develop a more detailed picture of what is involved in getting the project completed and how long the timeline might be.
  • What special trade or technical skills will be required? You may need skilled or certified individuals to perform certain tasks. It is essential to know these resource requirements.
  • Does any of the work require a license or permit? Some extents of modification may require permits from a local jurisdiction and/or licensed trades to perform the work. New work often requires permits. Every jurisdiction has its own set of standards and requirements which must be considered.
Recall that I said "document" the project requirements. This is important for everyone involved. You want to prevent the "drifting" of performance benchmarks during the course of the project. This should be especially important if you are the one responsible for project completion. Injections of additional requirements midstream have the potential to destroy your carefully considered plans and result in delays, compromised quality, and dissatisfied stakeholders. If somebody wants a change, insist that they be realistic about its impact on the schedule.

There are three major decision factors to consider for in-house or outsourced projects?
  • Technical resources: Do you have people on staff with skills and qualifications that match those that will be needed to accomplish all the tasks comprising the project? That may include substantially more than the mechanics needed to install newly acquired parts and equipment. Consider engineering and design, the production of required documentation, procurement and scheduling of materials and equipment, proactive scheduling and coordination of the various tasks, and general project management.
  • Special equipment and tools: Are there any particular tools, instruments, or equipment that will be required on the project? Does the organization have these resources on hand? If not, how will they be procured, how long does it take, how much does it cost?
  • Available manpower: Are there enough personnel in the organization with the needed skills to complete the work AND is there enough slack available in their schedule to allow a sufficient amount of their time to be devoted to the project to achieve a timely completion? This is critical and applies to both the skilled trade labor and administrative manpower requirements.
An honest and thoughtful consideration of the three areas outlined will likely convince you that, unless the project is small in scale and simple in scope, outsourcing to a contractor with expertise and experience in the work to be accomplished is your best course of action. Sure, dealing with contractors can be difficult and merely outsourcing will not be a panacea for all the challenges presented by any project. However, if a contractor's responses to the three considerations outlined above are better than yours, there is probably advantage in hiring them. 

In the big picture, outsourcing can keep your company's resources available to perform more directly related to revenue generation, which is what they were likely hired for in the first place. Outsourcing draws comparatively little from the organization resource pool and, candidly, puts the bulk of the performance burden and the associated aggravation and stress on another organization that is probably better equipped to handled it than you. Done right, it can be a big win for everyone.

Optimizing Boiler Operation - Reduce Standby Cycling

Industrial Boiler
Commercial / Industrial Boiler
Courtesy Victory Energy
Heating of commercial and institutional buildings presents a case where there are energy savings available through the application of an advanced control element able to substantially reduce boiler operation time.

Building owners, boiler engineers, operators and other stakeholders will benefit from this simple and understandable video explanation of some of the inefficiencies associated with boiler operation, and how incorporating an additional control element can minimize boiler dry firing (also called standby cycling). Boiler operation costs can be reduced between 10% and 25%, with a commensurate reduction in carbon footprint, by including the Fireye NXM2G control in the boiler control system.

Watch the video. It's just a few minutes and explains the source of the inefficiency, as well as the solution, in a manner understandable to everyone. More information is available from a combustion product specialist, who can help evaluate the efficiency of your current system or assist with incorporating the latest energy saving features and design into a new installation.

What All Stakeholders Should Know About Boiler Maintenance

Industrial Watertube Boiler - Victory Energy
Industrial Watertube Boiler
Courtesy Victory Energy Operations
Steam has been a component of industrial operations for many decades. Today, we enjoy the benefits derived from past experience with countless boiler operating hours and a history of successes and failures. During this time, codes and standards have developed and expanded to bring a high level of safety to boiler operation and minimize their environmental impact.

One aspect of boiler ownership or operation that all stakeholders should understand is proper maintenance. The video below will help property and business owners, maintenance staff, and other interested parties develop a basic knowledge level and understanding of the scope and importance of proper boiler maintenance. It is essential for delivering safe and efficient facility operation.

Watch the video. It's three minutes. A special thanks for video production goes to Victory Energy Operations, a leading single source supplier of custom engineered watertube boilers and package boiler systems, servicing a multitude of markets worldwide.

You can learn more about boiler maintenance from the combustion and steam experts at CTI Controltech. The company provides a full range of maintenance, repair, and engineering services, along with high grade parts, controls, and equipment.

Why Do We Debate Air vs. Electric Powered Valve Actuators?

Rotork Industrial Valve
Industrial Process Control Valve
Courtesy Rotork
Which is better, air or electric? We're talking about valve actuators here. Just for perspective on how original this article might turn out to be, I commanded my friendly Google search engine to look for "air vs. electric actuators". Google always finds something, no matter what you ask, giving the humble user an impression that the big "G" has all the answers....and they truly may. Don't misunderstand me. I am a big Google fan. Someday I might even pay for something that they provide me. Anyway, I was humbled by the avalanche of search returns on my the subject, 17,200,000 articles. That's a large number, even for a Google search. Many of the articles related to industrial machinery automation, not valves. Changing my search to "electric vs pneumatic valve actuator" shaved the returns down to 236K, a more manageable volume.
Dutifully reading the highest ranked articles and following threads in forums, I started to wonder why, like figurative gladiators, we pit these two valve actuator motive power sources against one another. There is not a single winner in this case. One is not universally better, more advantageous, than the other. Both methodologies have instances where they can be used to best advantage. A good recommendation is to not be too influenced by the past, by what your own industrial process control experience may have been. The manufacturers of these products are continuously modifying designs and releasing products with newer technologies and better performance that may eliminate some shortcomings of the past.

Your best course of action is to consider the following:

  • What is the expected useful life of the process? Short term, long term, permanent?
  • Will existing air supply and piping system accommodate the anticipated additional pneumatic valve load, if that type actuator seems otherwise advantageous?
  • Are there sufficient maintenance and technical resources in place to keep either system in top operating condition and successfully deal with operational and repair issues that will arise? Does the current maintenance staff have sufficient knowledge and training to perform needed tasks?
  • Are there rated hazardous zones where valves will be located?
  • What needs to happen to valve position if motive power (air pressure or electricity) fails?
  • What valve positioning requirements are associated with proper control of the process?
  • What interfaces with any existing control systems, if any, need to be accomplished?
Carefully consider these points, add several of you own. Consult with knowledgeable sales engineers that specialize in valve automation. Combine experience and knowledge from a number of sources and a good solution will materialize. 

Got a Boiler? Get This Reference For Your Maintenance Techs.

Clark-Reliance Inspection Guidelines for Water Level Instrumentation
Drum Level Indication Guide
Industrial and commercial boilers, while commonplace in our infrastructure, are serious and potentially dangerous devices that require diligent attention in order to maintain safe operating conditions. Many modern elements of boiler design and the arrangement of their installation sites are responses to past catastrophic failures that we all wish to never recur.

Part of the diligence that keeps steam systems operating safely is periodic inspection of equipment and safety instrumentation. One manufacturer of water level indication instrumentation has compiled the latest ASME code requirements for drum level instrumentation with some additional best practices into a laminated, field hardened, booklet for use by mechanics, engineers, and other stakeholders in safe boiler operation.

Clark-Reliance Corporation, manufacturer of boiler water level instrumentation and controls, offers "Boiler Inspection Guidelines for Drum Level Instrumentation" free of charge to those interested in this aspect of boiler operation safety. Request a free copy below. Get it for your use and knowledge, or for the mechanics or contractors that maintain your boiler and steam system. The publication outlines the code requirements, provides some best practice recommendations, and provides illustrations of some correct and incorrect installation practices. It also presents different types of level indication device technologies and where each can be properly applied.

Get your free copy of the publication and put it to good use by requesting the "Clark-Reliance drum level inspection guide" at the link.

Boiler water level instrumentation handbook
Handbook provides examples of code violations and corrections.

Severe Service Ball Valves Meet Toughest Application Challenges

Industrial ball valve for severe service - section view
Severe Service Ball Valve Section View
Courtesy Mogas Industries
Industrial process control, as a field of endeavor, can expose an engineer to instances where their design input can have very significant impact on the financial prospects of their employer, even the safety and well being of the public residing near company facilities. "Getting things right the first time" is much more than a motivating slogan on a poster tacked to the wall in the corridor outside the engineering department. It is what our society demands of engineers. Fortunately, there are engineers that embrace the role of making sure things go as planned. They work as process engineers and also as designers of the componentry and equipment used to implement complex and potentially dangerous processes.

I have written about the positive and potentially not so positive attributes of ball valves for industrial process control applications. In that recent blog article, I mentioned that ...

"There may be particular ball valve variants that overcome potential shortcomings listed in this article".

Ball valves designed for severe service are an example of a manufacturer specifically designing ball valves to not only overcome some potential shortcomings of the valve type, but to extend the performance ratings into areas that accommodate some of the most demanding applications in the process control field.

What constitutes severe service?

  • Extreme temperatures
  • High pressures
  • Abrasive particulates
  • Acidic products
  • Heavy solids build up
  • Critical plant safety
  • Large pressure differentials
  • Velocity control
  • Noise control

Extended or enhanced features of severe service ball valves include:

  • Floating or trunnion mounted ball design with straight through bore path that protects the sealing surfaces.
  • Wide seat sealing surface with matched ball and seat sets that provide total sealing contact for reliable isolation. The greater sealing contact area withstands minor scratches and abrasions.
  • Independent replaceable seats to minimize repair and maintenance costs.
  • Pressure energized sealing, with seat springs that maintain a constant sealing contact between the ball and seats. Metal seats wipe the ball sealing surface clean during every operation.
  • Blowout proof one piece oversized stem design meets stringent industrial safety standards and withstands maximum working pressures and extreme service torques.
  • Dual-guided stem design employs pressure energized inner stem seals as a thrust bearing and lower stem guide. The valve stem bushing serves as the upper stem guide to eliminate lateral movement of the stem and prevent media migration and fugitive emissions.
  • Greater body wall thickness, with forged body and end connections for longest service life.
  • A heavy duty operator mounting flange, to provide structural support for the valve operator, is machined after attachment to assure precise stem alignment.
Application specific features, such as seat designs, live loaded packing, body gaskets, coatings, liners, purge ports, end connections, and special materials are also available to customize these severe service valves to meet extreme application requirements. The presentation below provides schematic and illustrated examples where severe service valves are applied and provides additional detail about the special features incorporated in the design of severe service ball valves. For all your control or isolation valve projects, whether in the conceptual, planning or implementation stage, consult a valve specialist. Merge your grasp of the process and its requirements with the product knowledge and application experience of a specialist and produce a solidly positive project outcome. 

Valve Actuator IQ Suffering? This Information Library Can Help.

IQ Series Electric Valve Actuator
Courtesy Rotork
For any component of your industrial process, there is a manufacturer that knows all about how to properly and safely apply, service, maintain, and repair it. The devices we employ to measure and control industrial processes and machines grow increasingly numerous and complex. While this provides operators with greater amounts of useful information, leading to safer and more efficient process operation, the burden on engineers and technicians tasked with coaxing maximum uptime and efficiency from the process grows. Never before has continuing education, even relearning of basic knowledge, been so important. One manufacturer has invested in helping customers and other industrial process control stakeholders keep their operation and maintenance knowledge current.

Rotork, a global manufacturer of industrial valve actuators, maintains extensive online information sources that are accessible to registered users. The instructional and educational assets include online course applications, videos, and other materials to familiarize the user with various aspects of Rotork actuators, their proper application, operation, and maintenance. The large library of "How to" videos provides clear instruction on the safe operation and application of the Rotork actuators, along with step-by-step instruction on how to perform the range of operations involved with obtaining the greatest benefit of ownership. Process engineers, operators, and technicians will all benefit from the assets, enabling them to interface with the products with the confidence that comes from knowledge.

Contact your Rotork distributor for instructions and assistance in gaining free access to the educational tools.

Innovative Magnetic Level Gauge Provides Accurate Indication Under Adverse Conditions

Jerguson Magnetic Level Gauge
Magnetic Level Gauge on Tank
Courtesy Jerguson
We, as engineers, industrial process operators and stakeholders, recognize the necessity and value of a continuous stream of accurate and timely information about our processes. Our experience has also taught us that the environment and activities surrounding our installations can have a significant impact upon our ability to continually gather accurate process measurements. Some of our concerns include:

  • Weather - An element whose impact cannot be understated....or easily predicted.
  • Physical Contact - Equipment and measurement devices must be protected from damaging impact.
  • Security - Vandalism, cyber invasion, and other external threats are possible

Our responsibility, as operators of machines and handlers of materials that can produce hazardous or life threatening conditions in the case of failure or error, is to foresee every reasonably probable event that could adversely impact the safe and proper operation of our industrial processes.

One manufacturer has developed an innovative solution to a potential problem in the application of magnetic level controls.

The short video below outlines the source of the potential failure and the way in which the product design change successfully overcomes a potentially adverse impact on process measurement. Invest less than three minutes of your time to watch the video and build your application knowledge by learning from the experience of others. Do not hesitate to contact a product application specialist for more detail, or to discuss your process measurement needs.

Rotork Skilmatic Valve Actuators Enhance Performance and Safety

Valve Actuator
Electro-Hydraulic Valve Actuator
Courtesy Rotork
Incorporating levels of performance and safety into industrial fluid handling systems presents ever increasing challenges to those designing, owning, and operating those systems. Rotork Fluid Systems developed the Skilmatic line of valve actuators to provide the positioning performance, operational safety, and data connectivity needed for best-in-class implementation of industrial process control valves.

The Skilmatic range of self-contained electro-hydraulic actuators combine the precision of hydraulic control, the simplicity of electrical operation, and the reliability of mechanical fail-safe action into a single integrated product. In addition to general purpose, flameproof, and modulating versions of the actuators, Rotork offers intelligent versions of the product that deliver improved control and monitoring functions:

  • Datalogger recording of events, trends, alarms.
  • Bluetooth connectivity for data download and upload between actuator and Rotork’s InSight2 software.
  • Semi-automatic position limit calibration.
  • Partial stroke operation.
  • Improved position control for modulating operations.
  • Valve flow characterization for modulating control with various valve attributes, such as equal %, linear, and more.
  • Manual override detection.
  • Alarm output relays with selectable function.
  • Internal temperature sensor.

The actuators are available in a myriad of configurations to suit every application. A wide range of standard arrangements are offered, along with custom versions configurable to provide a specific solution demanded for a special application. A deeper profile and description of the product line, principals of operation, and operational benefits is available from a product specialist, who can also assist with selecting and configuring the right unit for your project or application.

Electric Boilers - When Are They the Best Choice as a Steam Source

Industrial electric boiler
Electric Boiler
Courtesy Williams & Davis Boilers
Commercial and industrial boiler applications are diverse, with more to be considered than fuel costs alone. There can be instances where other operational or procurement criteria can override fuel costs as a determining factor in boiler selection. Sometimes, an electric boiler may be the best overall choice for a project or application.

Electric boilers are comparatively simple devices. They will resemble their combustion heated cousins in practically all aspects related to the the handling of water and steam. Where they differ is the means of heating.

Electric boilers have bundles of electric heaters immersed in the water to be converted to steam. Electrical switching gear and controls that regulate the operation of the heaters in response to steam demand will likely be mounted integrally to the unit. What will be missing is all the hardware needed for fuel storage, delivery, regulation, and ignition, along with a host of other items needed for the presence and handling of a combustible fuel supply and removal of the products of fuel combustion.

Let's look at some points that may prove advantageous for an electric boiler installation.

Electric boiler cutaway view
Cutaway View of Electric Boiler
Courtesy Williams & Davis Boilers 
  • Small steam requirements: Installations with highly localized or small scale requirements for steam may benefit from the lower complexity of an electric boiler installation.
  • Intermittent operation: Electric boilers are very easy to start and stop.
  • Shortened project timeline: The installation of an electric boiler generally does not have as many infrastructure requirements as those utilizing combustible fuels, allowing for reduced time between project inception and completion. 
  • Reduced installation costs: No need for the provision or storage of combustible fuel and the associated operational and safety infrastructure. In some jurisdictions, it is permissible to locate an electric boiler in proximity to the steam consuming device, reducing costs for piping. 
  • Reduced maintenance requirements: Electric boilers have almost no moving parts, no flue, no burners, no fuel system, and none of the hardware, maintenance, or regular inspections associated with combustion safety.
  • Operation of electric boilers is comparatively quiet.
If your application can benefit from some of these potential advantages of electric boiler installation, an analysis of the longer term costs may be in order. The generally reduced energy cost of combustion based systems may, at some point, make them a better choice. With your steam production and demand requirements in hand, contact a boiler specialist that can provide both electric and combustion heated systems and chart out the tangible and intangible benefits of several options. The right choice will be revealed with a careful analysis.

When a Ball Valve is the Right Choice

Industrial Ball Valve Cutaway View
Cutaway View of Industrial Ball Valve
Courtesy of Flowserve Atomac
Industrial fluid handling and process control rely on valves to regulate the pressure and control the flow rate and direction of a wide variety of liquids and gases. There can be highly sensitive or specialized performance requirements, along with additional needs for corrosion resistance and an ability to withstand extreme fluid or environmental temperatures. Selecting the proper valve can be a challenging and time consuming operation for a new or updated process. Taking an initial step of narrowing the field of potential candidates to those with basic operational and construction characteristics that will be advantageous to your process requirements will move you quickly toward an effective selection.

Industrial valves for flow control are often grouped and referred to by their closure mechanisms. Common types include ball, plug, butterfly, globe, and gate. Each type has attributes making it more suitable to certain applications. Start your selection process by choosing a valve type that will provide the type of service needed. Let’s look at ball valves.

Ball valves are named for the generally spherical shaped element encased in the valve body and placed directly in the fluid flow path. The ball has a hole, or port, through it’s center that allows fluid to pass when the port is aligned with the direction of flow. The stem, attached to the ball and extending to the exterior of the valve body, that can be rotated through a 90 degree arc manually, or utilizing a powered actuator. At one extreme of the arc, the port is perpendicular to the flow path and fluid flow is completely obstructed and shut off. Rotating the stem ninety degrees from the closed position will align the port with the flow direction in the fully open position.

What are some potential advantages of ball valves?

Ball Valve - Mogas Industries
Interior of Ball Valve
Courtesy of  Mogas Industries
  • Well suited for applications requiring either full flow or no flow.
  • Quarter turn operation provides a rapid transition from open to closed position.
  • Leak-proof service.
  • Force required to drive the valve stem is comparatively moderate.
  • No lubrication required and maintenance is minimal.
  • Comparatively light weight and compact, reduced installation space and support requirements.
  • When fully open, the port provides little resistance to flow with a straight through path.

What are some potentially concerning attributes?

  • Residual amounts of the process fluid may be trapped in the port when the valve is closed, then released to the fluid stream when the valve is opened. Potential contamination impact should be considered.
  • Ball valves are not well suited for throttling of the flow. Partially open ball valves expose seals and sealing surfaces to effects of the fluid velocity and potentially corrosive nature of the fluid. Additionally, the basic construction and operation of the ball and port generally do not provide variable flow control as well as some other valve types.
  • Valve seals, most often elastomertic materials, may not be compatible with fluid characteristics. Consider temperature, corrosiveness, and other fluid characteristics for compatibility with the seal material.

These general points are intended to get you thinking about your valve application in a productive and efficient manner. There may be particular ball valve variants that overcome potential shortcomings listed in this article. Talk to a valve specialist about your application. Their recommendation, based upon high level product knowledge and experience with numerous applications, will be a valuable addition to your decision making.

Multivariable Vortex Flowmeter

multivariable vortex flowmeter
AX Series Flowmeter
Courtesy Azbil North America
Azbil North America recently added the AX series of multivariable vortex flowmeters for industrial process measurement and control to their product offering. The instrument combines temperature, pressure and velocity measurement in a single instrument to provide accurate mass flow measurement of gases, liquids and steam. Incorporating several variable measurements into a single package reduces potential leakage points, installation complexity, and space requirements compared to arrangements with discrete instruments for each variable. Configurations for in-line or insertion installation are available for line sizes ranging from ½” to 8” for in-line and 2” and greater for insertion. A sizing guide, application and product configuration assistance is available from a product specialist.

Intelligent Valve Control for Part-Turn Valves

ICT Electric Actuator
ICT 3rd Generation
The introduction of this new electric valve actuator brings the advanced functionality and asset management capabilities of intelligent technology to the direct-drive operation of part-turn valves.

Valve maintenance requirements can be identified and anticipated, eliminating unplanned interruptions to the process or over-cautious planned maintenance outages. The actuator's powerful datalogger provides comprehensive data capture for planned maintenance and troubleshooting. Data includes valve torque profiles, operational start profiles, vibration and temperature trend logs and an event log. Specific asset management information includes running time, average torque and number of starts. Service or maintenance alarms are selectable from configurable menus including open and close torque levels, total starts and vibration levels.

For more information contact:

CTi Controltech
22 Beta Ct.
San Ramon, CA 94583
Phone: 925-208-4250
Fax: 925-208-4251

Benefits of an Intelligent Control Valve System

Intelligent Control Valve and Loop System
Intelligent Control
Valve and Loop System
An intelligent control valve system, the Flowserve StarPac can stand alone or be integrated into a system, and is available for a variety of applications including oil and gas, chemical, paper, mining, industrial gases and power generation.

Advantages for using this type of device are the following:

Process Diagnostics – Evaluation of process equipment is possible with the StarPac intelligent control system. By generating an initial signature of the process and then identifying a standard process signature, a pump, compressor, heat exchanger, reactor, etc., can be discovered to be defective and in need of servicing. Process diagnostics can be per- formed with a personal computer or DCS connected to the unit via its serial data port.

Logging / Tuner Operation – The StarPac will take a 'snapshot' of process conditions at user-specified intervals (1 to 9999 seconds) and store them in its memory for later retrieval to aid in diagnosing process upsets. The personal computer operator interface will trend process variable, set point, and stem position to aid in tuning the control loop. This data is in a form that can be read by loop auto-tuning software to calculate the optimum PID constants.

Process Transmitters – The StarPac has sensors in the valve body to measure process conditions including upstream and downstream pressure, temperature, and flow. Flow is indicated both as the current value and a totalized amount. For gases, flow is reported in mass units, such as pounds per hour (since gas flow is always compensated for changes in pressure and temperature). Other sensors measure stem position and pressures in the top and bottom chambers of the cylinder actuator. All of these values are available over the serial link to a computer or DCS.

Connections to Operator Interface – The StarPac can be connected to an operator interface (personal computer, DCS console or hand station and recorder) through its analog, discrete and digital channels. The StarPac houses two analog inputs and one analog output. Up to six analog outputs are available using an external converter module. Two discrete inputs and two discrete outputs are also available at the StarPac. The user can define how these channels will be defined. Normally one analog input is a command signal, one discrete input sets the control mode, and the discrete outputs signal alarm conditions. The digital channel can be connected to computers and most DCSs through gateways or Modbus ports. All of the process and configuration information is available through the digital channels.

High Interchangeability – Since the Valtek Mark OneTM, MaxFloTM and ShearStreamTM control valves are the basis of the StarPac system, most valve parts are interchangeable with other Valtek valves, reducing parts inventory.

Local Display – Eight variables (P1, P2, temperature, gas flow, liquid flow, total flow, setpoint, stem position) can be displayed on a liquid crystal display in the electronics module. Each variable can be set to display continuously, or the StarPac can be set to scroll through the chosen variables at ten-second intervals. An error indicator will show if the StarPac system should fail any internal diagnostic or if the process is out of range.

Multiple Failure Modes – StarPac technology allows multiple failure modes to be set, including: power, air supply, command signal, or process failure. This results in greater reliability and consistency of the process during emergency shutdowns, protecting the process and people.

Valve Diagnostics – A maintenance feedback package allows StarPac intelligent systems to display the condition of the valve packing, seat, actuator, and O-rings with only a brief process interruption without removing the valve from the line. PC software displays the actuator or process signature for analysis. Optional valve diagnostic software can determine specific valve failures.

User Friendly Software – When the user is not connecting the StarPac unit to a DCS, StarTalk software can configure, operate, and diagnose the StarPac unit through a personal computer. The software has a graphical user interface, allowing most users to operate their StarPac systems with minimal training.

Environmental Considerations – Locating pressure and temperature sensors in the valve body eliminates several process connections. All pressure sensors have at least two seals to reduce the possibility of leaks to the atmosphere. Remote-mounted pressure sensors can be fitted with isola- tion and/or purge valves to aid maintenance of the sensors.

Check out this video for further explanation:

CTi Controltech
22 Beta Ct.
San Ramon, CA 94583
Phone: 925-208-4250
Fax: 925-208-4251