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Achieving Predictable Valve Performance for Safety Applications

Achieving Predictable Valve Performance for Safety Applications

A focus on having the proper specificati...

Putting Servo Valves Back to Work

Putting Servo Valves Back to Work

Industries as varied as paper production...

Corrosion and Fouling: Is There a Solution?

Corrosion and Fouling: Is There a Solution?

According to a 1998 study released by the ...

Valves with All the Trimmings

Valves with All the Trimmings

The term valve trim has been around for ...

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Industry Headlines

MRC Global Announces Fourth Quarter 2017 Results

Wednesday, 21 February 2018  |  Chris Guy

MRC Global’s sales were $903 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, which was 26% higher than the fourth quarter of 2016 and 6% lower than the ...

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Valve Positioners Offer Improved Control Valve Performance

Valve Positioners Offer Improved Control Valve Performance

Monday, 19 February 2018  |  David Matherly

From time to time, we are re-posting well-received or particularly valuable articles that have previously run on VALVEMagazine.com so that those who m...

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Industry Headlines

MRC Global Announces Fourth Quarter 2017 Results

-1 DAYS AGO

MRC Global’s sales were $903 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, which was 26% higher than the fourth quarter of 2016 and 6% lower than the third quarter of 2017 due to seasonality. As compared to 2016, all sectors increased driven primarily by midstream and upstream.

MRC Global's fourth qu...

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Curtiss-Wright Acquires Dresser-Rand Government Business

23 HOURS AGO

Curtiss-Wright has entered into an agreement to acquire the assets that comprise the Dresser-Rand Government Business (Dresser-Rand), a business unit of Siemens Government Technologies, for $212.5 million in cash.

Dresser-Rand designs and manufactures mission-critical, high-speed rotating equipment sol...

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U.S. Refiners Increasingly Turning to Export Markets

-1 DAYS AGO

“U.S. gasoline consumption has leveled off as the stimulus provided by low and falling oil prices between 2014 and 2016 has faded, so refiners are increasingly turning to diesel and customers in emerging markets,” Reuters  reports .

“In geographical terms, the fastest growth in co...

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$900M Power Plant Planned for Indiana

-1 DAYS AGO

Vectren Energy Delivery of Indiana is proposing to install an additional 50 megawatts (MW) of universal solar and build an 800 to 900-MW natural gas-fired generation facility in addition to other critical investments that will significantly change the way the company generates power for the region .

Th...

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Survey Finds Surge in Confidence of Small Business Owners

-1 DAYS AGO

CNBC and SurveyMonkey recently announced the results of their quarterly Small Business Survey. According to the findings, 47% percent of small-business owners say overall business conditions are good , up from 44% in the fourth quarter of 2017. Also, 32% of small business owners expect to increase the...

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Construction Starts in 2017 Decline 7%

1 DAY AGO

Many of the leading U.S. metropolitan areas for commercial and multifamily construction starts showed reduced activity in 2017 compared to levels reported during 2016, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. Of the top ten markets ranked by the dollar amount of construction starts, seven registered...

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Solar-powered Valve Actuation: An Update

vmspr12_solar_actuators

The use of solar power in industrial and municipal valve actuator applications goes back several decades; however, technological advances in solar power efficiency and storage mean that today, it has become a practical, dependable alternative for many isolated locations.

In the early days, solar power was used in noncritical applications that required low power consumption, primarily to supply monitoring of valve-related and process data at remote locations. As solar power technology evolved, applications expanded along with the sophistication of the technology.

Today, the most extensive use of solar power in valve actuator applications is found in remote parts of the world that have vast stretches of jungle, desert or mountainous terrain—environments without reliable utility power. For example, South and Latin American oil-producing nations pioneered extensive use of solar and telemetry mostly for use on critical oil and gas pipelines.

In the U.S., fewer off-grid applications present themselves; however, recently some energy pipelines and governmental water agencies have come to rely on solar even for critical applications. The decision to go with solar in these cases is usually based on the comparative costs of bringing the grid to the job site or keeping the site off the grid. Furthermore, the current boom in unconventional extraction methods for oil and natural gas is driving more interest in solar power for valve-actuator applications.


ENERGY CONSUMPTION

A key factor of whether or not to consider solar power for an application relates to available energy and consumption. Two examples would be a 36-inch valve or gate operating at 1,000 psi on a crude oil pipeline and a 96-inch sluice gate in 25 feet of head water at a remote dam site. The two would require about the same force and amount of energy to operate. In both these cases, users would find bringing utility power to the sites cost prohibitive, which triggers the process to consider solar power.

In these scenarios, the pipeline company needs to be able to close the valve in an emergency in response to environmental and safety concerns. The water utility needs to maintain an appropriate level in its reservoir through the winter, which means changing the outlet gate position as the lake level rises or falls. Both applications need to sense process conditions, transmit information, move a load and do it all off grid. Solar power can be more cost effective in such cases and requires less maintenance than gas or diesel generation systems if the loads can be managed.


vmspr12_andes_solar_actuatorHigh in the Andes Mountains between Argentina and Chile, 14 valve sites are connected by fiber optic cable to the pipeline command center. Solar panels provide power for the station during the summer months and a turbine wind generator takes over during the winter. A control building houses the communication equipment and the hydraulic power unit (lower right). The 16-inch pipeline is buried, but the hydraulic actuator mounted on the valve extension can be seen above grade (lower left).POWER SUPPLY

One of the ways technology has improved in the solar industry is that, in the last 10 years, panels have become much more efficient and reliable. A case in point is an energy company in Wyoming that had a solar panel riddled with bullet holes. In earlier times, that panel would not have functioned. Yet, in this case, they did not need to replace the panel until a significant portion of its surface area was damaged because of the latest generation of solar panels, which employs self-healing technology.

Today, battery racks can be as simple as a pair of marine-grade gel cells wired to deliver 24 volts direct current (VDC), or racks of batteries wired to deliver 48, 96 or 110 VDC. A typical electric motor operator would reach the limits of battery storage and energy transfer capacity very quickly. But if speed is not an issue, then trading horsepower for gear reduction would allow some very large valves and gates to be operated this way.

Most importantly today, however, is that users don’t have to be in the sun-belt to make solar work. Canada has many successful remote solar sites.


HIGH SPEED AND FORCE, CRITICAL CONTROL

High speed, high force and critical control, which are all necessary requirements for dependable valve actuator operation, can be accomplished with an appropriate hydraulic operating system. By combining solar electric battery storage with hydraulic accumulator storage, very high operating forces and flexible speed control are possible. Full pipeline and station diagnostics are available as well.

Only a few years ago, communication options in remote areas were very limited. Satellite receivers were expensive and required a license; cellular towers had not yet spanned the country; and data capacity was limited. Radio systems were complicated and required intensive maintenance. Today, however, wireless technology covers even the most remote parts of the country, and most new pipelines are built with fiber-optics for supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) along their full length. This allows the same level of data acquisition and control at remote sites as in a plant connected to the grid, including both power and control redundancies for critical operations.

In addition, significant improvements in energy efficiency of instrumentation have been made, so continuous load on the battery system is minimized.

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