A ball valve is a simple and robust valve used in applications and industries across the spectrum. It consists of a ball with a hole through the center that can be rotated 90°.
The hole is either aligned with flow and open, or perpendicular to flow and closed. The straightforward, quarter-turn action is fast and simple to operate, and the position of the handle provides a clear indicator of whether the valve is open or closed.
Most ball valves are typically used as a shut-off valve. Many households likely use ball valves at some point in the water supply plumbing.
Not relegated to common plumbing, many industries use ball valves for critical control applications including aerospace and cryogenics. Their reliable operation and high-pressure handling ability make them an attractive solution for many specialty operations.
Seals Inside a Ball Valve
The seals inside the ball valve play an important role in their performance and reliability. There are two main seals in a common ball valve, which are referred to as seats.
The seats are typically machined or molded to match the diameter of the ball and are mechanically compressed against the ball face. Seat material varies by application needs, but virgin PTFE is frequently used for this application.
The Client’s Issue
The customer wanted a very specialized ball seat: utilizing a spring energizer in the seat. While easy to suggest, this would create a significant challenge in how the seal is manufactured.
The customer was looking for a sealing solution for a ball valve in their industrial gas processing plant. The ball valve would serve as a critical shut-off point in the system. The valve would be actuated by an electric motor, and could therefore be operated remotely.
The customer was looking for an improvement in the overall wear life of the ball seats, while still providing consistent and predictable actuation torque. Being motor activated, the torque required to move the ball open or closed was limited—so the friction generated by the ball seats would need to be carefully controlled.
- Ball Valve Seat
- Ball Diameter: Ø2.500”
- Media: Petroleum Processing Gases
- Pressure: 100 PSI
- Temperature: -40° to 175°F