Valves can be found just about anywhere today: in our homes, under the street, in commercial buildings and in thousands of places within power and water plants, paper mills, refineries, chemical plants and other industrial and infrastructure facilities.
1. WATER WORKS
In the world of water distribution, the pressures are almost always relatively low and the temperatures ambient. The ambient temperature of water service allows use of elastomers and rubber seals not suitable elsewhere.
The flip side of fresh potable water going into a facility or structure is the wastewater or sewer output. These lines collect all the waste fluid and solids and direct them to a sewage treatment plant. These treatment plants feature a lot of low pressure piping and valves to perform their “dirty work.” The requirements for wastewater valves in many cases is much more lenient than the requirements for clean water service. Iron gate and check valves are the most popular choices for this type of service.
3. POWER INDUSTRY
Gate valves remain a main choice for power plant on/off applications, although special purpose, Y-pattern globe valves are also found. High- performance, critical-service ball valves are gaining popularity with some power plant designers and are making inroads in this once linear-valve-dominated world. In addition to the main steam valving, power plants are loaded with ancillary pipelines, populated by a myriad of gate, globe, check, butterfly and ball valves.
4. OIL AND GAS PRODUCTION
Oil and gas wells and production facilities are heavy users of valves, including many heavy-duty valves.
5. OFFSHORE INDUSTRY
The piping systems for offshore oil rigs and production facilities contain a multitude of valves built to many different specifications to handle the wide variety of flow control challenges.
Although most pipelines are hidden from view, their presence is usually evident. These pipelines are equipped with many important valves all along their length. Emergency pipeline shutoff valves are found at intervals as specified by standards, codes and laws. These valves serve the vital service of isolating a section of a pipeline in case of a leak or when maintenance is required.
There are also smaller pipelines that feed into houses and commercial structures. These lines provide water and gas and are guarded by shutoff valves.
7. REFINERY AND PETROCHEMICAL
Refinery valves account for more industrial valve usage than any other valve segment.
Virtually every major valve type can be found in abundance in a typical large refinery. The ubiquitous gate valve is still the king of the hill with the largest population, but quarter-turn valves are taking an increasingly large amount of their market share. The quarter-turn products making successful inroads in this industry include high performance triple offset butterfly valves and metal-seated ball valves.
The chemical industry is a big user of valves of all types and materials. From small batch plants to the huge petrochemical complexes, valves are a huge part of chemical process piping systems.
9. LNG AND GAS SEPARATION
Both liquid natural gas (LNG) and the processes required for gas separation rely on extensive piping. These applications require valves that can operate at very low cryogenic temperatures.
10. COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS
Commercial buildings surround us but unless we pay close attention as they are built, we have little clue as to the multitude of fluid arteries hidden within their walls of masonry, glass and metal. Water system, fire protection and air conditioning system, all these structures contain a variety of piping systems.
Although evidence of the valve applications mentioned in this article may not be viewable during a trip to Starbucks or to grandma’s house, some very important valves are always nearby. If you pay attention to our daily life, example of the valves can be found easily, i.e, valves are truly everywhere.