As a business person, ensuring that your beer is appropriately flowing or not flowing when needed is essential. Valves are an integral part of brewery operations, acting as the on-off switch of a brewery. Whether you have a brew house or a homemade setup, accurate control of the flow between tanks and brewing steps is necessary to create a high-quality beer. To that end, it is essential to understand the different valves used in brewery applications and select the most suitable ones for each flow type. Doing this will help keep your beer clean, consistent and accurate to the intended flavor for all to enjoy.
What is a valve?
Valves are essential mechanical components for controlling and regulating the flow of liquids, mixtures, or gases. By opening, partially opening, or closing the flow path, valves help move the medium from an area of high pressure to a place of low pressure, allowing the flow to be pumped in the intended direction. Business people must consider the flow characteristics, medium, viscosity, and temperature when selecting the optimal valve type for their particular needs. The internal mechanical components and valve control method may differ from one valve type to another.
Automatic Valves vs. Manual Valves
For businesses looking to maximize efficiency and control over their brewing process, controlling valves manually or automatically can be a crucial factor. Manual valves, typically used in craft breweries or homemade setups, are held by rotating a lever or knob from the closed to the open position and can be locked in place with a pull handle, position handle, or locking slide for a nut. However, automatic valves may be the preferred choice for more sophisticated businesses. These valves are either controlled electrically or pneumatically and are often connected to a programmable
common sense controller (PLC) for the whole manipulation of the complete brewing system from a single centralized location. Professional brewers looking to ensure precision and accuracy should consider utilizing automatic valves.
Direct vs. Utility Valves
For those in the food and beverage processing industry, understanding the difference between direct contact and service utility valves is essential for a successful production. Direct contact valves are used during brewing and come into direct contact with the beverage. In contrast, service utility valves do not come into direct contact with the product. An in-depth knowledge of how a valve is implemented will help business professionals determine the type of valve, the material needed, and whether the valve requires regular cleaning.
Types of Valves used in Breweries
Throughout the brewing cycle, numerous liquids and gases must be accurately and safely managed. To ensure the brewing process runs smoothly, breweries must carefully select suitable types of valves for their equipment. The most standard valves found in breweries are butterfly, ball, globe, gate, check, needle, diaphragm, and solenoid valves. Each type of valve has unique advantages and disadvantages for different mediums, so businessmen must understand which type is best for their specific needs. By selecting suitable valves for their equipment, businessmen can ensure the brewing process runs efficiently and safely.
- Butterfly Valve
Butterfly valves are an excellent choice for breweries, as they are compact, have a superb hygienic layout and sealing properties, and are without difficulty cleaned. This makes them perfect for direct contact with products such as the clean-in-place (CIP) line, blow-off arm, racking arm, and bottom blowout. When the handle is rotated internally, a stem moves the disc or wafer from the closed to open position, allowing precise control over the flow from one tap to another. However, butterfly valves aren’t appropriate for high-strain packages and, because of the stem, thicker mediums can cause a build-up of contaminants that need to be cleaned.
- Normally-Closed Solenoid Valve
Solenoid valves are essential components for automated processes and safety considerations. Their operation is powered by an electric coil, which generates an electromagnetic field that pushes the plunger up to open the flow path. When the current is cut off, a spring mechanism closes the valve. Due to its quick response time and reliability, the solenoid valve is famous for automated bottling processes. It is also commonly used as a service utility valve for gas and glycol lines, as it can be normally closed when the power is off for safety reasons.
- Ball Valve
Ball valves are highly reliable and durable, making them an ideal choice for businesses needing a dependable service utility valve.A three-piece ball valve permits for smooth inspection and cleansing of all components. Its quarter-turn (90 degrees) operation ensures a smooth and unobstructed flow for gas lines, carbonation stones, water lines, or thicker mediums such as wort. However, it is essential to note that frequent and thorough cleaning of the valve is necessary to ensure no contamination or bacteria become trapped around the ball in the valve housing. By investing in a ball valve and dedicating the time and resources to maintain it properly, businesses can rest assured that their operations will remain efficient and safe.
Needle valves are essential service utility valves for businesses due to their internal threads that can house contaminants and bacteria. In addition, their precise flow control makes them ideal for gas and water lines mixing hot/cold to obtain exact strike temperatures. Operating the valves is simple: screw a needlepoint plunger up and down to adjust the flow precisely. With their reliable, precise control, businesses can trust needle valves to provide the exact level of service they require.
- Gate Valve
Gate valves are commonly used as service utility valves in businesses. They work by screwing a knob that moves a gate, or wedge, perpendicular to the pipe to seal it against the gate seat. When open, gate valves create an unobstructed flow, but due to their gate mechanism, they are unsuitable for high-pressure applications and make it difficult to control the flow precisely. For this reason, gate valves are typically only used on water faucets within a brewery.
- Globe Valve
Globe valves are an essential service utility valve used by many businesses, particularly breweries. They operate by screwing a knob that moves the stem and plunger down to seal it against the valve body. However, despite their reliability, these valves have a high-pressure drop as the fluid needs to make two 90-degree turns from entry to exit when open. As such, they are usually only used on water faucets within breweries. However, if you are a businessman looking for reliable and efficient valves for your brewery, then globe valves are an excellent choice.
- Diaphragm Valve
If you’re looking for a sanitary and hygienic solution for direct contact or service utility valves, look no further than a diaphragm valve. This professional-grade valve operates by screwing a knob that moves the stem and diaphragms down to seal it against the valve body, resulting in a high-pressure drop while providing excellent flow control. It’s a great choice for heat exchangers, ensuring you get the most out of your system.
Cleaning your Valves
Ensuring a clean and contamination-free end product is essential for any business, and cleaning valves is a crucial component of this process. Creating and maintaining a regular cleaning schedule is necessary to prevent a build-up of contaminants and bacteria. Tri-clamp connections are recommended for direct contact valves, as they make cleaning easier. Additionally, when choosing a valve, it is vital to consider the ease of dismantling and cleaning; for instance, ball valves are available in a three-piece design to enable thorough cleaning around the ball, while butterfly valves can often be fully taken apart, with the seat ring being cleaned or replaced. Investing in suitable valves and maintaining a regular cleaning schedule allows your business to enjoy clean components and a contamination-free end product.