Last updateTue, 27 Oct 2020 7pm

Valves in Space

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jim Richard is assistant branch chief for valves, actuators and ducts design and development at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, AL which is part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Richard, who grew up within sight of the huge Saturn rocket test stands located at MSFC, currently serves the Propulsion Systems Department as the lead technical mentor and expert in propulsion valves, lines and actuators for rockets and other spacecraft (See “A Life in Valves”).

Because of his unique exposure to this equipment, as well as his long background in the field, VALVE Magazine asked him to talk about his experiences and the challenges today’s valves, actuators and controls face as they travel or work in outer space.

Tank Farms and Liquid Terminals

You see them everywhere: acres of giant white cylinders—some rotund and some a bit slimmer—rising from the ground like a farmer’s root crop ready for harvest. They are the liquid petroleum terminals that adorn energy centers and energy transfer points around the globe. Even some of the larger airports around the world have their own farms of tanks where jet fuel is piped to the airport directly from a producer’s refinery.

The Challenges of Chlor-Alkali

With the introduction of new materials and the evolution of valve design over the years, the days when fluid handling operators were limited by the number of valve types available to control the process are long gone. These advancements plus more stringent fugitive emissions standards, a strengthened concern for the health and safety of plant personnel and the desire of operators to achieve a lower total cost of ownership have made valve selection a science. One of the applications where this science must be put into practice is chlor-alkali plants.

Where Valves Are Used: Everywhere!

Valves can be found just about anywhere today: in our homes, under the street, in commercial buildings and in thousands of places within power and water plants, paper mills, refineries, chemical plants and other industrial and infrastructure facilities.

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