06222018Fri
Last updateFri, 22 Jun 2018 2pm

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From Cannon Balls to Pressure Seals: Graphite for Sealing

From Cannon Balls to Pressure Seals: Graphite for Sealing

From time to time, we re-publish well-re...

Gaskets Are Not Created Equal

Gaskets Are Not Created Equal

Gaskets are near the bottom of the food ...

Your Valves May Be Weaponized

Your Valves May Be Weaponized

The advent of the Internet of Things (Io...

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Industry Headlines

SVF Flow Controls Joins VMA

Friday, 22 June 2018  |  Chris Guy

This week SVF Flow Controls became a full member of the Valve Manufacturers Association (VMA). This is the fourth new VMA member in 2018 so far.

For over...

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Industry Headlines

SVF Flow Controls Joins VMA

-1 DAYS AGO

This week SVF Flow Controls became a full member of the Valve Manufacturers Association (VMA). This is the fourth new VMA member in 2018 so far.

For over 35 years SVF Flow Controls of La Palma, CA has been manufacturing ball valves, actuators and controls for all industrial applications.

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Emerson Wins Global Tank Storage Award

15 HOURS AGO

Emerson’s Rosemount 5900S 2-in-1 Radar Level Gauge has won the Outstanding Terminal Safety Technology Award at the 2018 Global Tank Storage Awards. This award is given to a product or technology that adds an additional layer of safety to the terminal and reduces risk to employees and the surroun...

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U.S. Specialty Chemicals Markets Continue to Gain

16 HOURS AGO

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) reported that U.S. specialty chemicals market volumes continued to gain during the second quarter, increasing 0.5% in May after an upwardly revised 1% gain in April and a 0.4% gain in March. All changes in the data are reported on a three-month moving average (3M...

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Global LNG Trade Growing, Led by Australia and the U.S.

1 DAY AGO

Global trade in liquefied natural gas (LNG) reached 38.2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2017, a 10% (3.5 Bcf/d) increase from 2016 and the largest annual volume increase since 2010, according to the Annual Report on LNG trade by the International Association of Liquefied Natural Gas Importers...

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Optimism an All-Time High in NAM Survey

19 HOURS AGO

In the latest Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), it’s clear that businesses continue to experience highly elevated levels of activity as a result of policies like tax reform, with optimism once again breaking records —95.1% of responde...

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Texas Economy Continues to Expand at “Solid Pace”

1 DAY AGO

The Texas economy is expanding at a solid pace. Employment has grown at a 3.6% annualized rate through May, driven by job gains in the goods-producing sector. Unemployment remains near its historical low, and labor markets are tight. The Dallas Fed’s Texas Business Outlook Surveys (TBOS) suggest...

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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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