on July 19th, 2021

At their most basic, valves are mechanical devices that control the flow within a system or process. This control is achieved by the manipulation of some of type of obstructer. They come in many shapes and sizes but Texas is home to the one of the biggest.

The accolade came not for bragging rights or to honor the infamous phrase, but due to the states expected water shortages. By 2060, reports estimate Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex (DFW) population will have grown to more than 13 million, and that water demands in the area will have increased 86 percent. 

Water in DFW is managed by two Texan water authorities and to meet the demands of their rapidly growing population, they executed the $2 billion Integrated Pipeline Project. Many American engineering firms and UK-based, Blackhall Valves, were involved in the construction of 150 miles of pipeline. It also involved the construction of 3 Lake Pump Stations as well as 3 Booster Pump Stations.

For the project’s success, Blackhall Valves designed and manufactured high pressure 108-inch Parallel Faced Metal Seated Gate Valves. Considered to be the world’s largest Gate Valve, it weighs in at over 100 tons and stands a majestic 40 feet tall.

What makes the feat so impressive is that modern engineering technology has made it possible to determine the lifecycle of the valve. Predicted to last over a century, Finite Element Analysis (FEA) was able to simulate and predict the structural behaviors and capabilities of the valve when operating.

This included sealing under various flow and pressure conditions it would have to function in. Even Computational Seismic Analysis was used to understand how sustainable the valve will be during natural events like earthquakes.

However, this isn’t the only impressive member of the valve family is a big one.

The smallest of the bunch

While Texas is home to the biggest, some of the world’s smallest are solenoid valves.

Pneumatic and electronic company, Koganei, boasts the world’s smallest claimed valve, the 005 Series Micro three-port solenoid valve. The small stature means huge power savings when these valves are used in a myriad of manufacturing, appliances, or new technologies requiring Solenoid hardware in machines or pipelines.

The 005 Series has dual orientation mounting for base piping or split-type manifolds. When opting for split-type manifolds, it allows the valve to be part of an overall change in a manifold system.

The compact design features extremely low power consumption (only a half-watt) and is geared toward 10 million continuous life cycles. Koganai maintains that the valves have a low-leakage design and that an aluminum block manifold is also available for wiring in a DC 12-volt coil.

Valves helping the planet

Bedford Pumps has been a savior of aquatic life for some time thanks to their range of Siphon Breaker Valves. These are designed to ensure pumps fully prime the system and allow siphonic head recovery to take place.

The siphon breaker valve is a small paddle operated butterfly valve designed to automatically control the priming and de-priming of the siphonic discharge. It is mounted on top of the discharge pipework siphon loop.

The Siphon Breaker Valves are used within Bedford Pump’s fish friendly direct drive axial flow pumps. These pumps are fish and eel friendly with no direct mortality observed from exposure to the pump.

Bedford Pumps range of Fish Friendly pumps have been stringently tested by independent consultants VisAdvies BV, and awarded an “Excellent” rating for their ability to pass fish and eels without mortality.

Superhero valves

Withstanding the forces like fire or other natural disasters has become an important part of valve manufacturing.

Technology has allowed valves to become stronger, better, and almost indestructible.

Industries like oil and gas have a high risk when it comes to blazes, and as a result, every component in these systems must be able to cope with extremes – and valves are on top of the list.

Valve malfunctioning can spell disaster, and as a result safety valves are a required proponent for safety. High-performance ball valves made by Hartmann Valves can be operated in -200 to +550 temperatures and withstand 700 bar pressure. These metal valves as a very unlikely leak fault thanks to sealing systems between the ball and seat ring.

Another superhero valve manufacturer is Ebro valves. These have been subjected to extreme fire tests and withstood heat between 650 to 1,000 °C for 30 minutes. 

Express yourself, with valves

3D printing is changing the valve industry, and so is CAD software. Valve manufacturer, Mankenberg, exclusively uses 3D simulations to conduct tests without the need for costly prototypes. This speeds up the development chain immensely.

It also allows errors to be identified and fixed thanks to the data software provides, which can then be instituted in final design and testing. Similarly, 3D printing is proving to be highly beneficial in the design process.

Without high capital investment, 3D printing allows room to explore the functional needs of each unique valve. It also allows for the creation of valves that aren’t standard. Unique flow channels or smaller assembly parts can easily be created before going for further tests.

Much of the valve family, like gate valves, ball bearing valves, and servo valves, are currently 3D printed and helps to safeguard processes.

Gate valves for instance have the feature of a sealing surface that is mechanically placed in a straight line to regulate the flow of air or fluid.

Variations of the valve can now easily be printed to suit specific needs of the “gate” of what the valve needs to regulate. Printing servo valves are also heading in the direction of serving microengineering, as smaller and smaller valves can be printed for test modules.

References

Blackhall Engineering, 2017. When the world’s most impressive pipeline scheme asks for 100 year asset life valves, you listen. [online] Available at: https://www.blackhallwatervalves.com/Worlds-largest-gate-valves-texas.html [Accessed on 3 July]

Pneumatic Tips, 2018. Micro solenoid valves from Koganei are “world’s smallest” says the company. [online] Available at: https://www.pneumatictips.com/micro-solenoid-valves-from-koganei-are-worlds-smallest-says-the-company/#:~:text=%20Koganei%20micro%20solenoid%20valve%20with%20barbed%20ports,equipment%20used%20in%20bio-tech%2C%20analytical%2C%20and%20semiconductor%20manufacturing. [Accessed on 3 July]

Bedford Pumps. 2009. Fish friendly pumps. [online] Available at: https://www. www.bedfordpumps.co.uk/fish-friendly#publications [Accessed on 3 July]

Valve World Expo, 2018. Valve World Expo 2018: Under fire -Fire safe valves withstand explosions and blazes. Demand is growing. [online] Available at: https://www.valveworldexpo.com/en/Press/Press_material/Press_releases/Valve_World_Expo_2018_Under_fire_-Fire_safe_valves_withstand_explosions_and_blazes._Demand_is_growing. [Accessed on 3 July]

3D Print Pulse, 2017. 3D Printing Has the Potential to Change How Valve Developers Design and Develop Products. [online] Available at: https://www. 3dprintpulse.com/?query=valves&open-article-id=7485264&article-title=3d-printing-has-the-potential-to-change-how-valve-developers-design-and-develop-products&blog-domain=3dprint.com&blog-title=3dprint-com [Accessed on 8 July]

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