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Last updateThu, 19 Oct 2017 5pm

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Market Outlook 2018: A Sunnier Mood with a Few Caveats

Market Outlook 2018: A Sunnier Mood with a Few Caveats

The atmosphere at VMA’s 2018 Marke...

Is it Time to Toss Those Commissions?

Is it Time to Toss Those Commissions?

It’s tough to pinpoint exactly wha...

Cybersecurity for Process Control

Cybersecurity for Process Control

Security for any process plant has alway...

Young Valve Professionals: Megan Johnston

Young Valve Professionals: Megan Johnston

In 2014, VMA's leadership created the Val...

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Industry Headlines

Crude Oil, Petroleum Product Exports Reach Record Levels

Thursday, 19 October 2017  |  Chris Guy

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration ( EIA ), crude oil exports in the first half of 2017 increased by more than 300,000 barrels per ...

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Industry Headlines

Emerson Agrees to Acquire Paradigm

3 DAYS AGO

Emerson has agreed to acquire Paradigm for a purchase price of $510 million, reflecting a multiple of 13 times expected 2017 EBITDA. Paradigm will be joined with Emerson’s existing Roxar automation software. The acquisition is expected to close within the next 60 days, subject to various regulat...

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ValvTechnologies Receives ISO 15848 Certification

4 DAYS AGO

ValvTechnologies’ EcoPack technology has received ISO 15848-1:2015 certification from Odin Heavy Industries. To earn ISO 15848 certification, ValvTechnologies underwent a stringent evaluation process that included a series of 17 helium leak tests and eight thermal cycles on a fully assembled v...

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Crude Oil, Petroleum Product Exports Reach Record Levels

2 DAYS AGO

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration ( EIA ), crude oil exports in the first half of 2017 increased by more than 300,000 barrels per day (b/d) from the first half of 2016, reaching a record high of 0.9 million b/d. Petroleum product exports also grew over the same period with propan...

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Energy Intensity in U.S. Manufacturing Decreased

2 DAYS AGO

Energy intensity in manufacturing in the U.S. decreased from 2010 to 2014. U.S. manufacturing overall fuel intensity decreased by 4.4% from 3.016 thousand British thermal units (Btu) per dollar of output in 2010 to 2.882 thousand Btu in 2014. According to the Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey (M...

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Fed Reports Economy Growth in September, Early October

2 DAYS AGO

Reports from all 12 Federal Reserve Districts indicated that economic activity increased in September through early October, with the pace of growth split between modest and moderate. The Richmond, Atlanta, and Dallas Districts reported major disruptions from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in some areas a...

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Industrial Production Up 0.3% in September

3 DAYS AGO

Industrial production rose 0.3% in September. The rates of change for July and August were notably revised; the current estimate for July, a decrease of 0.1%, was 0.5% lower than previously reported, while the estimate for August, a decrease of 0.7%, was 0.2% higher than before. Manufacturing output...

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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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