08302016Tue
Last updateTue, 30 Aug 2016 8pm

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Valve Basics Training Helps Fill Industry Skills Gap

Valve Basics Training Helps Fill Industry Skills Gap

One of the most keenly felt needs in tod...

An End-User’s Perspective on Valve Selection and Risk

An End-User’s Perspective on Valve Selection and Risk

I am not a valve expert, although I ofte...

New Test Stamp and More Updates on Pressure Vessel Codes

New Test Stamp and More Updates on Pressure Vessel Codes

A new test organization program and stam...

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Chemours Selects Wilmington, DE for its Global Headquarters

3 HOURS AGO

The Chemours Company will locate its global headquarters in Wilmington, DE. Chemours began evaluating headquarters location options more than 6 months ago with Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania all under active consideration. Recent changes to Delaware’s corporate tax structure were key comp...

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ValvTechnologies Successfully Completes NUPIC Audit

6 DAYS AGO

ValvTechnologies, Inc. recently achieved NUPIC-approved suppliers list status, upon successful completion of the Nuclear Procurement Issues Committee (NUPIC) audit conducted at the Houston facility. NUPIC members include all domestic U.S. nuclear utilities as well as several international members.

Form...

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Feds Warn of Bolt Failures in Offshore Drilling

-1 DAYS AGO

On Monday, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) director Brian Salerno held a press conference aimed at oil & gas regulators. The issue he wanted to draw attention to is the failure of bolts in offshore drilling equipment such as blowout preventers. This problem, Salerno says, has...

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Monthly Renewable Electricity Generation Surpasses Previous Years

1 HOUR AGO

Renewable electricity generation has surpassed levels from previous years in every month so far this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration ( EIA ). Both hydroelectric and non-hydroelectric renewables have contributed to this trend, but in different ways. On the West Coast, hydr...

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Advanced Manufacturing Outpaces Rest of Production Sector

5 HOURS AGO

A new report from the Brookings Institution finds that high-tech advanced manufacturing bucked both global economic challenges and the longstanding shrinking of the traditional manufacturing sector over the last two years. While job losses were felt in other pockets of the production sector, advance...

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Texas Manufacturing Activity Increased in August

5 HOURS AGO

Texas factory activity increased in August, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey . The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, came in at 4.5 after a near-zero reading in July, suggesting output picked up this month.

Other meas...

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Hydraulic Actuators Gaining in Use

vmsum11_actuatorsHydraulic actuators (in black) for flow control valves in a distribution terminal of a pipeline help control gasoline, diesel and other products.

Although the actuator market is dominated by pneumatic and electromechanic products, a growing number of niches require the performance levels of electrohydraulic actuators.

Pneumatics have been the mainstay of control valve manufacturers for the better part of the last century—just imagine how large the installed base has grown to be. Electromechanical designs, on the other hand, date back almost as far as pneumatics, but have only recently been seriously considered for throttling control applications.

But what about hydraulics? The basic technology also has been around a long time, but the technology was never considered mainstream because of the complexity, maintenance requirements and costs. Still, some people argue that today, hydraulically driven actuators are among the highest performing modulating designs with the widest range of thrusts and torques. And, over the last 20 years, advances in hydraulic actuator technologies have opened doors to applications previously categorized as either pneumatic or electromechanical opportunities.


THE DIFFERENCES

So, what changes have we seen over the last few decades? Here are some thoughts on that issue.

Operation has changed from “continuous” to “discrete”: Conventional hydraulic technology, whether a central hydraulic reservoir power unit or a valve-mounted individual reservoir, is based on a servo system that uses a continuously running unidirectional motor and pump. This technology has superior frequency response (small spool valves for directional changes) and offers extremely tight positioning control with high available stroking speeds. A potential drawback is that these systems use gravity-fed reservoirs that communicate with the atmosphere. This can lead to ingress of condensate and particulates, requiring significant filtration and maintenance.

Discrete operating technology utilizes a bidirectional motor and pump in a truly self-contained, sealed hydraulic system. This eliminates the need for an active reservoir. It also means the oil volume is a small fraction of what would be required for a continuous system. The motor and pump operate discretely, only running when required to make a position change. Power consumption is lower than any other control actuator technology.

While the frequency response available with a discrete system is high, it can’t compare to the continuous system. However, the hydraulic fluid filtering and maintenance are eliminated, and the positioning accuracy and control remains as good as a continuous system.

“Self contained, discrete” technology has gained more acceptance in the control actuator market: What this really describes is a form of electromechanical actuator with a hydraulic transmission instead of a gear train. Electromechanical actuators use reversible motors and operate discretely (just like the discrete type of hydraulic actuator). Most traditional electromechanical actuators are designed for isolating duty and as such lock in position and power down when set point position is satisfied. Unlike the self-contained hydraulics, traditional electromechanical actuators are usually limited to fail-in-last-position on loss of motor power. Some newer designs of electromechanical actuators can replicate the functionality of the hydraulic or pneumatic actuators; however, most traditional electromechanical actuators have limitations on duty cycle and life cycle when compared to hydraulics or pneumatics.


A COMPARISON

So what does the self-contained discrete hydraulic technology have in common with pneumatics? Pneumatics are revered by most control valve manufacturers as the foundation of control valve positioning. They are the puppet controlled by the puppet master, which is the smart positioner. Pneumatics have been proven performers, with about 100 years as the staple of control valve actuation. That’s why it’s hard to stack up this younger, self-contained discrete hydraulic technology against the legend that is pneumatics.

However, both types are capable of continuous movement. They both have a variety of failure modes—through the use of simple springs or stored energy devices such as accumulators and volume tanks. However, pneumatics is more akin to conventional hydraulic technology regarding the power source. Just as a conventional hydraulic uses a continuously running unidirectional motor and pump to maintain pressure, the pneumatic has stored energy (supply pressure) from a central air compressor. Both approaches consume much more power than either the electromechanical or the discrete electrohydraulic technologies.

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