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Valves in a Cement Slurry Line

Valves in a Cement Slurry Line

Basically everywhere you look in modern ...

Triple Offset Butterfly Valves

Triple Offset Butterfly Valves

Since their introduction to the market m...

Digital Valve Control Leads to Increased Plant Availability

Digital Valve Control Leads to Increased Plant Availability

Surge is characterized by fast flow reve...

Cast vs. Forged: The Ongoing Debate Takes a New Direction

Cast vs. Forged: The Ongoing Debate Takes a New Direction

In the valve industry, the cast versus f...

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Industry Headlines

Fitch: Energy Recovery Should Boost Chemical Companies

Monday, 05 December 2016  |  Chris Guy

Modest reflation in the energy sector should filter through to higher prices for petrochemicals, plastics and other chemicals with energy-related feed...

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Industry Headlines

VMA Members Among Plant Engineering 2016 Product of the Year Finalists

4 DAYS AGO

Several VMA members are among this year’s Plant Engineering Product of the Year finalists. Emerson has products nominated in four different categories, while Siemens has several products nominated in a total of three different categories. Chesterton and Hunt Valve have products up for awards the...

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MSS Publishes Revised American National Standard for Steel Pipeline Flanges and Receives ANSI Approval

4 DAYS AGO

The Manufacturers Standardization Society (MSS) announces that the substantially revised Standard Practice, SP-44-2016, Steel Pipeline Flanges, has been approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as a Revised American National Standard (ANS).

The first edition of MSS SP-44 was publish...

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Fitch: Energy Recovery Should Boost Chemical Companies

-1 DAYS AGO

Modest reflation in the energy sector should filter through to higher prices for petrochemicals, plastics and other chemicals with energy-related feedstocks, resulting in higher sales, earnings and cash flow, according to Fitch Ratings . Market conditions support stable operating profiles for North Am...

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BP Approves $9 Billion Project in Deepwater Gulf of Mexico

2 HOURS AGO

BP has sanctioned the Mad Dog Phase 2 project in the U.S., despite the current low oil price environment. Mad Dog Phase 2 will include a new floating production platform with the capacity to produce up to 140,000 gross barrels of crude oil per day from up to 14 production wells. The $9 billion projec...

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ISM: U.S. Manufacturing Expands at Best Pace in Five Months

2 HOURS AGO

Manufacturing expanded in November as the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) registered 53.2%, an increase of 1.3% from the October reading of 51.9%, indicating growth in manufacturing for the third consecutive month. A reading above 50% indicates that the ma...

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U.S. Adds 178,000 Jobs, Unemployment Rate at 4.6%

3 DAYS AGO

The unemployment rate declined 0.3% to 4.6% in November, and total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 178,000, the Department of Labor reported today. Employment gains occurred in professional and business services and in health care.

Employment in construction continued on its recent upward trend...

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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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