09282016Wed
Last updateTue, 27 Sep 2016 9pm

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Caution: Horizontal Stem Installation Ahead

Caution: Horizontal Stem Installation Ahead

When it comes to linear valve installati...

The Critical Stem Nut: Who is Responsible for Maintenance?

The Critical Stem Nut: Who is Responsible for Maintenance?

One of the most important components of ...

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...

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Industry Headlines

Wolseley Reports 2016 Full Year Results

11 HOURS AGO

Wolseley plc delivered an improvement in overall results for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2016, up 8.5% from last year. Revenue of $18.7 billion was 4.2% ahead at constant exchange rates and 2.4% ahead on a like-for-like basis. Price deflation, particularly in the U.S., reduced revenue by 1.5%. Imp...

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ValvTechnologies Joins MSS of the Valve and Fittings Industry Committee

16 HOURS AGO

ValvTechnologies, Inc. has been unanimously approved for membership in the Manufacturers Standardization Society (MSS) of the Valve and Fittings Industry Committee. Representing ValvTechnologies is Tony Majka, director of engineering.

The MSS is a non-profit technical association organized for develo...

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Alaska, ConocoPhillips Forming LNG Joint Venture

1 DAY AGO

The State of Alaska, through the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC), and ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc. have executed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding negotiations to form a joint venture (JV) that could facilitate marketing LNG from the Alaska LNG project to global LNG markets and acqui...

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Many Houston Chemical Facilities Could Be Operating Illegally

1 DAY AGO

“Firefighters once routinely visited buildings in their districts to plan for emergencies — including ferreting out hazmat sites — but those visits stopped in April 2014. The department had started entering old plans into a new, sophisticated database and didn't want to create a ba...

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U.S. Consumer Confidence Surges to Nine-Year High

16 HOURS AGO

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had increased in August, improved further in September. The Index now stands at 104.1, up from 101.8 in August. The 104.1 figure is the highest since August 2007.

“Consumer confidence increased in September for a second consecutive month and i...

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Texas Manufacturing Strengthened in September

16 HOURS AGO

Texas factory activity increased markedly in September, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey . The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, rose 12 points to 16.7, suggesting output picked up at a notably faster pace this month...

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Don't Overlook Linear Actuators on Gate Valves

At a recent sales meeting in California, I was surprised to discover the lack of awareness regarding linear valve actuators. In fact, one veteran of the valve industry remarked, "I didn't know you could operate a gate valve using compressed air and a linear actuator." Most folks in the valve industry are familiar with operating globe valves in this manner, but typically, multi-turn electric actuators have been used when automating gate valves. However, if the control application calls for faster stroke speed, mechanical failure position, precise positioning, or higher thrust, linear pneumatic or hydraulic actuators may be preferred.

The basic principle behind linear actuators is simple: a piston in a cylinder. This type of actuator is very simple and reliable; after all, it only has one moving part. Such a mechanical device has been around for more than 200 years. Pistons in cylinders first saw use in steam engines. Scotland's James Watt crafted the first good ones during the 1770s.

Attaching a linear actuator to a gate valve is fairly straightforward. First, the handwheel and drive nut comes off, exposing the threaded stem. Then, a coupling is used to connect the stem to the piston rod. This allows the linear actuator to move the stem up and down directly. The before-and-after pictures on the left and right, respectively, show the change from a manual valve to an automatic valve with the linear actuator.

Of course, the actuator is now producing "thrust" not "torque," and this is a critical specification for linear actuator design. As it turns out, the size of the cylinder is a function of the required valve thrust and the available supply (pressure x area = force). The cylinder is larger for a higher required thrust and a lower supply pressure. And since the actuator price increases as the cylinder size increases, engineers must verify that the supply pressure given is the highest available at the project site.

Moreover, if the calculated thrust is based on the maximum differential pressure rating across the valve (as defined by ANSI) and not actual operating design conditions, the specified thrust might be much higher than actual, which would require a larger cylinder and thus a higher price. Therefore, it is best to specify thrust based on actual design conditions to get the best price.

Linear actuators can be an effective automation solution for gate valves. As automation increases, so should our choices. That the linear actuator has proven reliable in many applications outside of the valve industry is testament to the enduring design of the pneumatic and hydraulic cylinder.

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