A valve is a device that regulates, directs or controls the flow of a fluid (gases, liquids, fluidized solids, or slurries) by opening, closing, or partially obstructing various passageways. Valves are technically fittings, but are usually discussed as a separate category. In an open valve, fluid flows in a direction from higher pressure to lower pressure. The word is derived from the Latin valva, the moving part of a door, in turn from volvere, to turn, roll.
The simplest, and very ancient, valve is simply a freely hinged flap which drops to obstruct fluid (gas or liquid) flow in one direction, but is pushed open by flow in the opposite direction. This is called a check valve, as it prevents or "checks" the flow in one direction. Modern control valves may regulate pressure or flow downstream and operate on sophisticated automationsystems.
Valves have many uses, including controlling water for irrigation, industrial uses for controlling processes, residential uses such as on / off and pressure control to dish and clothes washers and taps in the home. Even aerosols have a tiny valve built in. Valves are also used in the military and transport sectors. Valves vary widely in form and application. Sizes typically range from 0.1 mm to 60 cm. Special valves can have a diameter exceeding 5 meters
Valves are quite diverse and may be classified into a number of basic types. Valves may also be classified by how they are actuated:
• Solenoid valve
The main parts of the most usual type of valve are the body and the bonnet. These two parts form the casing that holds the fluid going through the valve.
The valve's body is the outer casing of most or all of the valve that contains the internal parts or trim. The bonnet is the part of the encasing through which the stem (see below) passes and that forms a guide and seal for the stem. The bonnet typically screws into or is bolted to the valve body.
Valve bodies are usually metallic or plastic. Brass, bronze, gunmetal, cast iron, steel, alloy steels and stainless steelsare very common. Seawater applications, like desalination plants, often use duplex valves, as well as super duplex valves, due to their corrosion resistant properties, particularly against warm seawater. Alloy 20 valves are typically used in sulphuric acid plants, whilst monel valves are used in hydrofluoric acid (HF Acid) plants. Hastelloyvalves are often used in high temperature applications, such as nuclear plants, whilst inconel valves are often used in hydrogen applications. Plastic bodies are used for relatively low pressures and temperatures. PVC, PP, PVDF and glass-reinforced nylon are common plastics used for valve bodies.
A bonnet acts as a cover on the valve body. It is commonly semi-permanently screwed into the valve body or bolted onto it. During manufacture of the valve, the internal parts are put into the body and then the bonnet is attached to hold everything together inside. To access internal parts of a valve, a user would take off the bonnet, usually for maintenance. Many valves do not have bonnets; for example, plug valves usually do not have bonnets. Many ball valves do not have bonnets since the valve body is put together in a different style, such as being screwed together at the middle of the valve body.
Ports are passages that allow fluid to pass through the valve. Ports are obstructed by the valve member or disc to control flow. Valves most commonly have 2 ports, but may have as many as 20. The valve is almost always connected at its ports to pipes or other components. Connection methods include threadings, compression fittings,glue, cement, flanges, or welding.
Handle or actuator
A handle is used to manually control a valve from outside the valve body. Automatically controlled valves often do not have handles, but some may have a handle (or something similar) anyway to manually override automatic control, such as a stop-check valve. An actuator is a mechanism or device to automatically or remotely control a valve from outside the body. Some valves have neither handle nor actuator because they automatically control themselves from inside; for example, check valves and relief valves may have neither.
A disc or valve member is a movable obstruction inside the stationary body that adjustably restricts flow through the valve. Although traditionally disc-shaped, discs come in various shapes. Depending on the type of valve, a disc can move linearly inside a valve, or rotate on the stem (as in abutterfly valve), or rotate on a hinge or trunnion (as in a check valve). A ball is a round valve member with one or more paths between ports passing through it. By rotating the ball, flow can be directed between different ports. Ball valves use spherical rotors with a cylindrical hole drilled as a fluid passage. Plug valves use cylindrical or conically tapered rotors called plug. Other round shapes for rotors are possible as well in rotor valves, as long as the rotor can be turned inside the valve body. However, not all round or spherical discs are rotors; for example, a ball check valveuses the ball to block reverse flow, but is not a rotor because operating the valve does not involve rotation of the ball.
The seat is the interior surface of the body which contacts the disc to form a leak-tight seal. In discs that move linearly or swing on a hinge or trunnion, the disc comes into contact with the seat only when the valve is shut. In disks that rotate, the seat is always in contact with the disk, but the area of contact changes as the disc is turned. The seat always remains stationary relative to the body.
Seats are classified by whether they are cut directly into the body, or if they are made of a different material:
• Hard seats are integral to the valve body. Nearly all hard seated metal valves have a small amount of leakage.
• Soft seats are fitted to the valve body and made of softer materials such as PTFE or various elastomers such as NBR, EPDM, or FKM depending on the maximum operating temperature.
A closed soft seated valve is much less liable to leak when shut while hard seated valves are more durable. Gate, globe, and check valves are usually hard seated while butterfly, ball, plug, and diaphragm valves are usually soft seated.
The stem transmits motion from the handle or controlling device to the disc. The stem typically passes through the bonnet when present. In some cases, the stem and the disc can be combined in one piece, or the stem and the handle are combined in one piece.
The motion transmitted by the stem may be a linear force, a rotational torque, or some combination of these (Angle valve using torque reactor pin and Hub Assembly). The valve and stem can be threaded such that the stem can be screwed into or out of the valve by turning it in one direction or the other, thus moving the disc back or forth inside the body. Packing is often used between the stem and the bonnet to maintain a seal. Some valves have no external control and do not need a stem as in most check valves.
Valves whose disc is between the seat and the stem and where the stem moves in a direction into the valve to shut it are normally-seated or front seated. Valves whose seat is between the disc and the stem and where the stem moves in a direction out of the valve to shut it are reverse-seatedor back seated. These terms don't apply to valves with no stem or valves using rotors.
Gaskets are the mechanical seals, or packings, used to prevent the leakage of a gas or fluids from valves.
A valve ball is also used for severe duty, high-pressure, high-tolerance applications. They are typically made of stainless steel, titanium, Stellite,Hastelloy, brass, or nickel. They can also be made of different types of plastic, such as ABS, PVC, PP or PVDF.
Many valves have a spring for spring-loading, to normally shift the disc into some position by default but allow control to reposition the disc. Relief valves commonly use a spring to keep the valve shut, but allow excessive pressure to force the valve open against the spring-loading. Coil springsare normally used. Typical spring materials include zinc plated steel, stainless steel, and for high temperature applications Inconel X750.
The internal elements of a valve are collectively referred to as a valve's trim. According to API Standards 600, "Steel Gate Valve-Flanged and Butt-welding Ends, Bolted Bonnets", the trim consists of stem, seating surface in the body, gate seating surface, bushing or a deposited weld for the backseat and stem hole guide, and small internal parts that normally contact the service fluid, excluding the pin that is used to make a stem-to-gate connection (this pin shall be made of an austenitic stainless steel material).