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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

Philly Fed: Manufacturing Activity Expanded Solidly

Monday, 19 February 2018  |  Chris Guy

The index for manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia Federal Reserve region increased 4 points in February to a reading of 25.8. The index has sta...

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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

ValvTechnologies ITC 2018 Recap

2 DAYS AGO

The biennial ValvTechnologies’ International Technical Conference and Users Group (ITC) was held on February 8-9 in Houston. Seeking to educate, inspire and engage attendees over a two-day period, the event brought together hundreds of attendees from across the globe to share valuable insight ...

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Matthew Davis Named Field Service Manager at Weir

3 DAYS AGO

Weir Valves & Controls USA (WVC USA) has appointed Matthew Davis to the position of field service manager. In his new role, Davis will be responsible for managing the WVC USA Field Service crew and organizing WVC Service jobs for power plants worldwide.

Davis joins WVC USA with over 20 years of ex...

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TransCanada Turns Attention to Natural Gas System

3 DAYS AGO

TransCanada Corp. will move forward with a $1.9 billion expansion of its NGTL System to connect incremental supply and expand basin export capacity by one billion cubic feet of natural gas per day at the interconnection with its Canadian Mainline. NGTL expects to begin construction in 2019.

The increme...

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U.S. Oil Output Surge Reminiscent of Run-Up to 2014 Dive

4 DAYS AGO

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), fast rising production in non-OPEC countries, led by the U.S., is likely to grow by more than demand in 2018. For now, the upward momentum that drove the price of Brent crude oil to $70/bbl has stalled; partly due to investors taking profits, but a...

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Philly Fed: Manufacturing Activity Expanded Solidly

-1 DAYS AGO

The index for manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia Federal Reserve region increased 4 points in February to a reading of 25.8. The index has stayed within a relatively narrow range over the past nine months. Nearly 41% of the firms indicated increases in activity this month, while 15% reported...

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U.S. Industrial Production Fell 0.1% in January

2 DAYS AGO

Industrial production edged down 0.1% in January following four consecutive monthly increases. At 107.2% of its 2012 average, total industrial production was 3.7% higher in January than it was a year earlier.

Manufacturing output was unchanged in January for a second consecutive month; the index has i...

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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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