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Ball Valves in Power Plants(I)

During the last 20 years, advances in machining, tooling, measuring and coating technology have led to ball valve designs that provide positive sealing solutions for the power industry. These new “power plant ball valves” can withstand temperatures and pressures that make them a viable solution for the industry.


THE HISTORY

Before these new designs, creating true and matching spherical sealing surfaces was limited so that one surface—the ball—typically was metal and highly polished. The second sealing surface—the seat—generally was a fluoropolymer or elastomeric compound. This combination works well in lower temperatures and pressures, and still is widely used today. However, it is not suited for the extremes seen in steam power generating stations.

 

vmwnt12_Figure-1Figure 1. Typical Y-pattern globe valveInstead, traditionally rising-stem globe valves have been the work horses for stop and isolation service in steam-generating power plants (Figure 1). These valves have massive stems, plugs and seats. They are top-entry valves and often have welded or pressure seal bonnets.

 

The sealing areas of the plug and seat are matched conical surfaces, which are well-suited for the high pressures, temperatures and velocities found in vent, drain and continuous process services. Operation of the valves is intuitive: If the stem is in the “up” position, the valve is open; if the stem is in the “down” position, the valve is closed.


METAL-SEATED BALL VALVES

Computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines with special tooling can now produce virtually perfect spherical metal-to-metal sealing surfaces—both concave, and convex for ball and seat—with almost infinite repeatability. Highly qualified and specialized coating contractors also can provide many varieties of flame-sprayed carbide coating compounds applied with exacting precision in laboratory conditions by CNC robotic machines. These coatings carry a toughness and hardness far exceeding that of the cobalt-based weld overlays traditionally used in rising stem globe valves, and the final coated surface exactly mirrors the machined contours of the underlying part. These technologies have lead to the emergence of the power plant ball valve, capable of withstanding temperatures in excess of 1050° F (566° C) and ­pressures in excess of 3000 psig.

 

- See more at: http://www.valvemagazine.com/

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