Category Archives: Automated Valves

Sizing & Selection Criteria for Control Valve Actuators

Valves are used to control the flow of fluid in process systems. During routine operations, the position of valves often needs to be opened or closed regularly. In large plants, manually adjusting these valves can be time-consuming and largely impractical.

In these cases, valve actuators are used in place of hand-operated wheels and levers. Valve actuators are mechanical devices used to adjust valve positions. Instead of having operators physically locate and reposition valves, valve positions can be adjusted from a remotely located control room.

The actuator itself is a mechanism that produces a particular motion to control a valve. This motion can be either:

  • Linear

Forward/backward or up/down in a fixed plane (such as in a globe valve)

  • Rotary

Revolving around a fixed axis (similar to butterfly valves)

Valve actuators can be used with control valves to throttle or regulate process flows, or they can be used in isolation valves to stop the flow of fluid at a given location. These devices are commonly used in a variety of industrial plants, including:

  • Water/wastewater treatment facilities
  • Power plants
  • Oil refineries
  • Food and beverage
  • Oil and gas

Types of Valve Actuators

The working principle of actuator valves primarily depends on their driving force. The two most common types of valve actuators are pneumatic and electric.

  • Pneumatic Valve Actuators

Pneumatic valve actuators are the most common type of actuator used in process systems. These actuators use air (or other gas) pressure as a main power source. Air pressure is used to produce motion to control the position of the valve.

For double acting and spring return models, we offer two different styles of rack and pinion pneumatic actuators. Rack and pinion pneumatics are excellent for a variety of industrial applications in fields such as chemical & plastic, food & beverage, and a whole breadth of general industrial sectors.

Our rack and pinion actuators are available in the PN Series or the SS Series with two different body material options (hard anodized extruded aluminum or stainless steel), plus feature ISO and NAMUR mounting to meet international standards.

  • Electric Valve Actuators (Motor Driven Actuators)

Electric actuators use electricity as their primary power source. Electricity is used to produce the motion which opens or closes the valve as required. These types of actuators fall into two general classifications: solenoid actuators or motor driven actuators.

In solenoid actuators, an electric current is applied to a wire coil (solenoid) which produces a magnetic field. This magnetic field pulls on a metal plunger which pushes the valve stem downward. When the solenoid is de-energized, the spring retracts the plunger upwards and reopens the valve.

In motor driven actuators, the valve stem is controlled by an electric motor. A servo amplifier provides a DC signal to the motor which moves the valve stem in a linear motion to the desired position.

 

Valve Actuator Selection Guide

Valve actuators are an essential element in the efficiency of process systems and also play a significant role in process plant safety. It is therefore crucial that the right type of valve is selected for the given environment to ensure optimal valve operation.

The following factors must be taken into consideration when determining the most appropriate type of valve:

  • Power source

One of the first factors to consider is the most effective power source for the actuator. Power source availability, control access, valve size, frequency of operation, and required torque are all factors to consider when choosing between pneumatic or electric actuators. For pneumatic actuators, an air pressure generally between 40 and 120 psi would need to be provided. Most electric actuators would require available access to a 110 AC power supply, although different sized AC and DC motors are available.

  • Temperature range

The operating temperature range for pneumatic actuators is typically between -4° and 174° F (-20° to 80° C). With appropriately rated seals, bearings, and grease, this temperature range may increase to -40° to 250° F (-40° to 121° C). In low temperatures, the dew point in relation to the environmental temperature should be considered, as frozen condensate can affect the ability of the air supply port to provide sufficient air pressure.

Electric motors are typically available in temperature ranges between -40° to 150°F (-40° to 65°C). Special care should be given to electric motors in outdoor applications. The unit should be properly enclosed to prevent the accumulation of condensation and rainwater which can negatively affect the actuator.

  • Hazardous locations

Pneumatic actuators are preferred in areas with hazardous, explosive, or flammable gases, vapor, or dust due to their lack of ignition source. Electric actuators, on the other hand, work with electricity, which is a classified as a source of ignition. Therefore, electric actuators need to be contained in NEMA, UL, or CSA-approved enclosures to prevent ignition of the external environment.

Learn More

BI-TORQ Valve Automation has served countless industrial, commercial, and municipal clients for over 35 years. Since our valve automation department began operations over 23 years ago, we have supplied thousands of butterfly valves, electric and pneumatic actuators, limit switches, and proximity sensors to customers worldwide.

We are proud members of the Valve Manufacturers Association of America (VMA), and our proficient technical team is well-versed in valve actuators of all types. Our 25,000-square-foot manufacturing facilities allow us to operate efficiently to meet even the strictest client requirements without compromising quality or service.

If you would like to know more about our valve actuators, services, or other products, please contact us or request a quote.

Where do Your Valves Go?

“Where do your valves go?” is a frequently asked question for those new to selling and specifying BI-TORQ valve packages. The general answer is anywhere media (liquid or solid) needs to be conveyed or regulated in a piping system, or stored in a tank. That answer helps, but is quite general. We need to narrow that scope down to the industry level and add some sample series that you’ll find there to get a better idea.

If you take a look at the images below you can get a sense of where individual series can be found along with a brief description of each major series.  This is by no means meant to be a catch-all, but it should give a good starting point to think about how our product line can help fill your needs.

Product Series/Industry Matrix
Product-industry matrix

Series SnapshotSeries snapshot

Valve Types: Butterfly Valves and Ball Valves

Valves are used in a wide range of applications to control the flow of slurries, liquids, and gases. Among the most common valves in use today are butterfly valves and ball valves. Each type of valve has its own advantages and disadvantages, but each operates on similar underlying principles.

Butterfly valves are connected to a handle, gear operator, or actuator that turns a shaft connected to a metal disc inside of the valve by 90°. When the disc is turned in the direction of the flow, the valve is fully opened, allowing materials to move past the disc and down the pipe. Conversely, turning the disc so that it’s seated across the flow path will block the flow.

Ball valves are also connected to a handle or actuator that turns a valve shaft, but unlike butterfly valves, they contain a spherical ball with a hole drilled through it in one direction to block or release flow. Turning the drilled half of the ball toward the material releases the flow while turning the solid side of the ball toward the material blocks the flow.

Butterfly Valves: Applications and Advantages

Butterfly valves are most often used to regulate the flow of gases, liquids, or slurries. Because they can be designed with reference to specific pressure requirements and usage patterns, their applications are very broad. Some of the more common include:

  • Water, air, gas cooling
  • Fire protection
  • Food and beverage production
  • Chemical processing
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturing
  • Slurry services
  • Throttling
  • Vacuum services

 

Butterfly valves have a number of advantages over alternative flow management solutions, including:

  • Speed

Butterfly valves open quickly as compared to multi-turn valves. The ability to remotely control them also saves time, since users don’t need to travel to each valve location.

  • Affordability

Butterfly valves are less expensive than most other types of valves due being less material intensive.

  • Size

Because butterfly valve assemblies are smaller than other valves, they are ideal for applications with tight space requirements.

  • Throttle

Butterfly valves are well-suited to applications that require liquids, gases, or slurries to be throttled for sustained periods.

  • Low Maintenance

Butterfly valves tend to require little maintenance, and most have a long service life.

  • Easy installation

Butterfly valves are typically simpler to install than other valves.

  • Leak-proof

The speed of automation combined with the standard tight seal of a butterfly valve essentially eliminates wastage or leaks.

Ball Valves: Applications and Advantage

Ball valves are used in liquid and gas applications that require a tight seal. Like butterfly valves, they can be adapted to a wide variety of purposes. Because they offer increased control, ball valves have become increasingly popular in many industries. Their applications include:

  • Chemical processing
  • Life sciences
  • High-pressure
  • High-temperature
  • Food and beverage production
  • Measurement and control
  • Utilities
  • Water cooling
  • Drains and vents

 

Ball valves offer many advantages over manually operated ball or butterfly valves, including:

  • Speed

Ball valves can be opened and closed more quickly than multi-turn valves. The ability to remotely control them also saves time, since users don’t need to travel to each valve location.

  • Multi-port

Applications that require superior control can benefit from the control offered by multi-port automated ball valves.

  • Long Service Life

Ball valves are designed to withstand the strains of intense industrial applications. To extend product life, many valves also allow for component replacement during maintenance.

  • Simplicity

Automating ball valve control at a single control point simplifies operations and streamlines existing processes.

  • Leak-proof

The speed of automation combined with the standard tight seal of a ball valve essentially eliminates wastage or leaks.

  • Full Flow

With no obstructions in the flow, a ball valve offers higher flow rates than a butterfly valve.

 

The ability to control the flow of fluids or gases from a single control point can significantly improve efficiency throughout your operation. Automating ball valve or butterfly valves in your facility will enable you to optimize your time and streamline your processes, which will ultimately result in a positive impact on your bottom line.

With more than 20 years of experience in providing automated valves, BI-TORQ Valve Automation has the expertise needed to develop the perfect valve and actuator for any application,

Whether you’re searching for a standard catalog product or a customized solution, our technical sales staff stands ready to solve any challenges you might face.

To learn more about butterfly valves, automated ball valves, or our other products and services, please request a quote or contact us.