The hydrocarbon industry is incredibly complex and dynamic. It relies on various engineering wonders, tools, and resources – but valves play a unique and crucial role. Valves are essential to keeping oil refineries, power, and gas plants safe and efficient by controlling the flow of liquids, gases, and other substances. With valves, these operations are possible and safe. So it’s clear that valves are essential to the hydrocarbon industry, and their importance should not be underestimated.
It is essential for any petroleum engineer to understand the primary types of valves used in the industry, how they work, and what their purpose is. Flow control valves are used in various applications, including irrigation systems, water treatment plants, oil and gas refineries, energy, fire protection systems, and food processing. These valves are instrumental in helping to respond to changes in processes quickly and safely, protecting personnel and equipment in the process. Understanding the basics is essential with so many different types of valves in the industry.
Types of Valves used in Hydrocarbon Industry
In the oil and gas industry, control valves regulate flow rate, pressure, and temperature. By responding to hydraulic, pneumatic, or electrical signals sent by a controller, the flow passages of the valve can be adjusted accurately for optimum performance. Furthermore, their automatic operating system allows them to be operated remotely, eliminating the need for constant monitoring and adjustment and thereby saving time and energy.
Butterfly valves are ideal for isolating, regulating, and modulating heat, corrosive, chemical, and pressurized media. Their slim design makes them perfect for tight spaces, while their availability in larger diameters allows them to be used in larger pipes. In addition, their quick opening and closing action and high reliability with minimal maintenance make them an excellent choice for any application.
Ball valves are designed to provide precise control over the flow of high-pressure liquids and gases while minimizing pressure loss. They are easy to open and close, and their tight seal ensures minimal torque. With their versatility and simplicity, ball valves can be used in various settings, from residential to industrial. These valves are excellent for any application where precise control and tight shutoff are required.
Check valves are critical components that protect pumps and other equipment from damage, reducing the need for costly maintenance and downtime. By preventing the backflow of water through pipes, these valves maintain a low-pressure drop, making energy savings more efficient and reducing noise levels in the pipes. In addition, their reliable performance and durability ensure a safe and reliable water supply for years to come.
Globe valves are ideal for isolation and throttling services due to their easy installation and machinable valve seats. They provide a secure seal, and their simple linear motion ensures easy opening and closing of the valve. Furthermore, they offer superior shutoff capabilities, making them an excellent choice for various applications.
These safety valves are essential for any equipment in front or behind it. Designed to open when a significant pressure change is detected, these valves immediately shut off the oil and gas flow, which must then be manually reopened. Safety valves, sometimes referred to as relief valves, are essential for the oil and gas industry as they help to reduce the risk of injury.
Plug valves are a simple yet effective tool for controlling fluid flow in pipelines.A horizontal passageway is bored through a plug-shaped disc. When the valve is open, fluid can pass through the hole by moving through the passageway. Turning the actuator 90 degrees from the open position allows fluid to be blocked and no longer flow through the pipeline. It is important to note that this valve is not recommended for throttling functions and is typically used for unrefined oil products in biogas production.
The gate valve is a highly reliable and effective solution for controlling and maintaining the flow rate of pipelines, as it utilizes a hydraulic system to open and close them. However, its use is unsuitable for applications requiring throttling since the actuator opens the valve entirely and allows the flow of even slurry fluids such as crude oil. For these scenarios, there are better candidates than the gate valve.
Bellow Sealed Types of Valves
Forged and welded bellows are the two most common forms of this essential valve component. Forged bellows are typically made from a thin foil wall in a tube, which is fusion welded longitudinally. On the other hand, welded variants are created by fusing washer-like plates of thin metal at the inner and outer circumferences.
Due to their internal architecture and axial movement of the valve stem, these bellows are often used in conjunction with gate or globe designs. They are traditionally composed of stainless steel for their strength and durability.
Breather valves, also known as vacuum relief valves, are essential for protecting tanks and other storage vessels. Weighted pallets are commonly used to control pressure and vacuum protection levels and, when combined, ensure that the system remains balanced and the vessel is protected from excess pressure or vacuum buildup. It is crucial to adhere to the American Petroleum Institute’s API standard 2000 for venting atmospheric and low-pressure storage tanks when installing and using this valve.
Every ORBIT valve features a unique tilt-and-turn operation that prevents seal rubbing, a leading cause of valve failure. In addition, the core of an ORBIT valve is tightly wedged against the seat when closed, providing a secure and reliable shutoff. This advanced design ensures a long-lasting, reliable valve that won’t disappoint you.
The ORBIT valve opens, allowing line flow to travel around the core face of the valve. This helps to avoid localized high-velocity flow, which could cause uneven seat wear and shorter valve life. In addition, the core helps to ensure that the valve will last longer and function more efficiently by tilting away from the seat.
The valve is designed to operate in extreme temperatures, ranging from -104°C to 427°C. As a result, it can be used in various industrial applications, such as hot oil systems, mole sieve dryers, and other high-temperature processes.
Industrial valves are essential components for upstream operations in the oil and gas industry. High-pressure injection systems can be used to inject crude oil and natural gas into wells, and choke valves and rupture prevention devices can be fitted on the top of wells to control the flow. These include gate valves, ball valves, butterfly valves, check valves, pressure valves, and diaphragm valves. With the right valve combination and careful installation, these valves can help to ensure the safe and effective operation of oil and gas production systems.
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