Fluid Processing - Plug Valves

plug valve cutaway view
Plug valve cutaway view
Image courtesy Flowserve - Durco
Fluid process control operations commonly employ pumps, piping, tanks and valves as the means of transporting, containing and controlling the fluid movement through a system.

Valves, of which there are many types, provide control over the flow rate, direction and routing of fluids in a processing operation. Flow can be started, stopped or modulated between zero and full rate using a properly sized and configured valve. Some valves enable media flow to be diverted to a selection of outlets, in lieu of a single inlet and outlet pair. Specialized valves regulate inlet or outlet pressure, or prevent fluid flow from going in an undesirable direction. All of these capabilities are packaged into differing valve product offerings that present a very large selection array to a process designer or engineer.

Industrial flow control valve types are generally classified according to the structure or arrangement contained within the valve body that provides obstruction to fluid flow. Some of the common types are ball, butterfly, gate, globe, and plug. Surely, there are more valve types, and this article is not intended to list them all. Some of our previous blogs have discussed selection considerations for gate, ball and butterfly valves. This article will focus on one of the oldest valve types, the plug valve.

Plug valves, like ball and butterfly valves, span from fully open to fully closed positions with a shaft rotation of 90 degrees. The “plug” in a plug valve is installed in the flow path within the valve body and rotated by means of a stem or shaft extending to the exterior of the body. Plugs are often tapered toward the bottom and are fitted to a seating surface in the valve body cavity that prevents fluid from bypassing the plug. An opening through the plug, the port, can be shaped to provide particular flow characteristics. There are numerous variants of the basic plug valve which may make it suitable for particular applications. One common variant is the lined or sleeved plug valve, with an insert or interior lining of material that creates an isolating barrier between the valve body and the media. This allows use of less expensive materials for the body construction that may be otherwise subject to corrosion by exposure to aggressive media.

Plug valves can be selected for a number of attributes.
  • 90 degree rotation from open to closed provides fast operation.
  • With proper configuration, can be well suited for frequent operation.
  • Availability of corrosion resistant liner may provide comparative cost savings because valve body can be constructed of less expensive material.
  • Design is simple and employs a low parts count.
  • Valve can be serviced in place.
  • Generally, low resistance to flow when fully open.
  • Reliable leak-tight service due to tapered plug wedging action, replaceable sleeve, and injection of lubricant in some variants.
Potential issues of concern for plug valve application include a short list of items.
  • Higher friction in the plug closure mechanism may require comparatively higher operating torque than other valve types.
  • Without a specially designed plug, generally not well suited for throttling applications.
  • Rapid shutoff delivered by plug design may not be suitable for some applications where hammering may occur.
Share your fluid control application challenges with a valve and automation specialist. Leverage your own knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop an effective solution.

Master-Martyr Valve Arrangements

electric industrial valve actuator with manual wheel
Electric actuator for industrial valves.
Image courtesy Rotork
Some industrial fluid flow applications are best served with what is known as a master-martyr valve set. Let's look at this arrangement and how it is used.

Valves are used to regulate flow. They are also applied to isolate portions of a fluid system by providing positive leak free shutoff. A master-martyr valve set utilizes two valves, with the performance of each targeted at differing performance goals. By coordinating the operation of the two valves, operational benefits accrue.

The master valve serves as the isolating valve. It will be located upstream of the martyr valve. The master valve provides fully open or fully closed operation and is commonly selected to accommodate the most severe operating condition anticipated in the system. Usually, this valve is normally open and is designed to contribute little to no pressure drop to the fluid flow. A good example is a full port metal seated ball valve. It offers very low pressure drop, substantial resistance to system pressure or heat, and can be driven from fully open to closed positions quickly.

The martyr valve provides flow regulation or throttling and is not intended to be the positive means of shutoff for the fluid flow. This valve will experience a range of pressure drop, possibly some flashing, or other conditions that, along with the frequent repositioning applied to the valve, will serve to produce wear and tear on the mechanism. Generally, the martyr valve is expected to wear out from normal operation and need servicing or replacement. The master valve, located upstream, serves as a point of isolation that allows the martyr valve to be easily serviced.

The overall goal is to operate the master valve as little as possible and expose it to the lowest possible pressure drop. Generally, this will call for the master valve to be opened first and closed last.

There are numerous potential applications for this valve arrangement. Smart actuators can function within the control system by delivering information about valve position and service level, as well as responding accurately to system commands. Share your fluid flow control challenges and applications with valve automation specialists. Leverage and effective solution by combining your own knowledge and experience with their product application expertise.

Patented Ballcheck Valve Eliminates Potential Commissioning Error

When using a ballcheck valve and commissioning a gauge assembly on a vessel containing liquid, a common mistake is to open the valve too quickly and engage the ball check. This will result in a false reading on the gauge. The 360 Series valve, from Jerguson, makes it impossible to get a false level reading during commissioning. The short video shows how the patented feature of the 360 simplifies commissioning by avoiding errors.
  • Eliminate false level readings during commissioning
  • Clean-out port enables internal inspection
  • Handle clearly indicates open or closed position of valve
  • Certifications for common applications
  • Lock-out / tag-out capability is standard
More information on this and related level gauge products is available from product specialists. Share your challenges with application experts and develop an effective solution by leveraging your own knowledge and experience with their product application expertise.

High Performance Butterfly Valves for Challenging Process Fluid Conditions

High performance double offset butterfly valve with actuator
High performance butterfly valves handle challenging
 media and process conditions.
Image courtesy Flowserve - Valtek Control Products
Industrial process control applications can present stringent and challenging performance requirements for the physical equipment and components that comprise the process chain. The valves employed in fluid based operations need to be resistant to the 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 intended for extreme applications are generally referred to as severe service or high performance valves. While there are plenty of published and accepted standards for industrial valves, one does not exist to precisely define what constitutes a severe service valve.

So, how do you know when to focus valve selection activities on severe service or high performance valves, as opposed to those rated for general purpose? There are a number of basic criteria that might point you in that direction:
  • Extreme media or environmental temperature or pressure
  • High pressure drop operation that may cause cavitation
  • Rapid or extreme changes to inlet pressure
  • Certain types or amounts of solids contained in the fluid
  • Corrosive media
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 contemplated that can exceed 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 an extreme or challenging condition is identified, a careful analysis of the range of operating conditions will reveal the valve performance requirements.

There are numerous manufacturers of severe service or high performance valves, each with specialized product offerings focusing on a particular performance niche. Flowserve, under their Valtek brand, manufactures the Valdisk high performance butterfly valves ranging from NPS 2-52 and ASME class 150, 300, 600, 900, 1500 pressure ranges. The valve design is ideal for manual or automated actuation, installed with a manual hand gear, electric actuator, or a pneumatic actuator. Seats are available as soft or metal on this double offset butterfly valve that provides tight closure for bi-directional flow. Construction materials include carbon steel and stainless steel. A range of options and variants are available to customize the valve build to suit a replacement or new installation.

There is more information available about the Valtek high performance valve offering. Share and discuss your special requirements with a valve specialist. They have application experience and access to technical resources that can leverage your own process knowledge and experience into an effective solution.