09242016Sat
Last updateFri, 23 Sep 2016 2pm

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An Alternative Basics Education: Valve Ed Comes to You!

An Alternative Basics Education: Valve Ed Comes to You!

For the first time in the seven-year his...

Give Your Flow Meter a Happy Home

Give Your Flow Meter a Happy Home

Increased emphasis on the need to improv...

What’s in Store for the Construction Market?

What’s in Store for the Construction Market?

As was the case with many of the present...

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Industry Headlines

Pentair Valves & Controls Hosts Customer Appreciation Training Event

2 DAYS AGO
Pentair Valves & Controls Hosts Customer Appreciation Training Event

More than 200 representatives from Houston’s refinery, chemical and petrochemical industries joined Pentair Valves & Controls on Sept. 15 at its Pasadena, TX facility for a customer appreciation BBQ and training event . The presented seminars are a part of Valves & Controls’ Pentai...

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Mueller Water Products Recognized for Best Smart Water Solution

3 DAYS AGO

Mueller Water Products, Inc. received the 2016 Best Smart Water Solution award at the third annual Smart Water Summit in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Mueller Water Products, who won this award for the second time, was recognized for smart technology solutions offered through its Mueller Co., Mueller System...

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Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Water Resources Development Act

2 DAYS AGO

The U.S. Senate recently passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016 with a broad bipartisan vote of 95 to 3. This legislation not only authorizes critical U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects that drive investment in navigation, flood management, and ecosystem restoration, it provides ...

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Alaska Railroad Prepares First U.S. Shipments of LNG

2 DAYS AGO

The Alaska Railroad (ARRC) will demonstrate its ability to safely transport liquefied natural gas (LNG) in intermodal LNG ISO containers from southcentral to interior Alaska during a month-long operational performance project in early fall 2016.

ARRC is the first railroad in the country to obtain permi...

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Manufacturing Growth Eases Again in September

1 DAY AGO

At 51.4 in September, the seasonally adjusted Markit Flash U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) was down from 52.0 in August and pointed to the weakest improvement in overall business conditions since June. The latest PMI reading marked seven years of continuous growth across the ...

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Leading Economic Indicators Down Slightly in August

2 DAYS AGO

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. declined 0.2% in August to 124.1, following a 0.5% increase in July, and a 0.2% increase in June.

“While the U.S. LEI declined in August, its trend still points to moderate economic growth in the months ahead,” said Ataman Ozy...

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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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