Thursday, October 26, 2017

When to Use a Globe Valve for Fluid Process Control

cast iron globe valves
Cast iron globe valves are utilized extensively in steam,
HVAC, and other commercial and industrial applications
Image courtesy of Crane Co.
Industrial process control often involves the regulation of fluid flow. There are almost uncountable types and variants of flow control valves, each with a particular set of attributes that can make it the advantageous choice an application.

When the process calls for controlling flow over a range of possible values, known as throttling, a globe valve may be a good candidate for the application.

Globe valves are characterized by the change in direction of fluid flow as it passes through the valve and around the plug positioned in an opening through which fluid must pass. The plug is connected to a stem extending to the exterior of the valve body through the bonnet. Movement of the stem will reposition the plug in relation to the opening, providing a successively larger or smaller opening area through which fluid can pass.

Globe valves are available in tee, angle, and wye configurations, as well as an enormous range of special configurations to suit specific applications.
simplified globe valve diagram
Simplified globe valve diagram
Image courtesy Wikipedia

What are some potential advantages of globe valves?
  • Good throttling and shutoff capability
  • Comparatively easy maintenance
  • Comparatively short travel of plug from open to closed position
  • Seats can usually be resurfaced when worn
What are some limiting factors for globe valves?
  • Higher valve pressure drop than some other designs
  • No straight through fluid path
  • Potentially higher actuator torque requirements than other valve types
  • Seal area is unprotected from exposure to process fluid flow
When flow throttling capability is the overriding concern for an application, a globe valve is a good candidate for consideration. Share your flow control challenges with valve and automation specialists. Combining your process knowledge and experience with their product application expertise will produce effective solutions.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Wet Bulb Temperature and Cooling Tower Performance

corrosion resistant cooling tower induced draft type
Corrosion resistant evaporative cooling tower
Image courtesy Delta Cooling Towers, Inc.
Evaporative cooling towers enable many buildings across the globe to enjoy moderate interior temperatures. They serve as the final heat transfer step that moves heat from the building interior to the surrounding environment. In addition to their extensive application throughout large residential, commercial and industrial HVAC systems, their are numerous process cooling applications that employ evaporative cooling towers as an effective means of heat rejection.

Delta Cooling Towers, Inc. is a globally recognized manufacturer of corrosion resistant cooling towers, air strippers and tanks fabricated of HDPE to provide extended life service. The company posted an article entitled "Understanding Wet Bulb Temperatures And How It Affects Cooling Tower Performance". The original post is on this page of the company website, and all credit for the article goes to them. We share it below also, slightly edited for format on this forum.  From the article...

A cooling tower primarily uses latent heat of vaporization (evaporation) to cool process water. Minor additional cooling is provided by the air because of its temperature increase. Cooling tower selection and performance is based on water flow rate, water inlet temperature, water outlet temperature and ambient wet bulb temperature. Ambient wet bulb temperature and its affect on performance is the subject of this article. Ambient wet bulb temperature is a condition measured by a device called a psychrometer. A psychrometer places a thin film of water on the bulb of thermometer that is twirled in the air. After about a minute, the thermometer will show a reduced temperature. The low point when no additional twirling reduces the temperature is called the wet bulb temperature. The measured wet bulb temperature is a function of relative humidity and ambient air temperature. Wet bulb temperature essentially measures how much water vapor the atmosphere can hold at current weather conditions. A lower wet bulb temperature means the air is drier and can hold more water vapor than it can at a higher wet bulb temperature. For example:
Since cooling tower cells cool water by evaporation, the wet bulb temperature is the critical design variable. An evaporative cooling tower can generally provide cooling water 5° - 7° higher above the current ambient wet bulb condition. That means that if the wet bulb temperature is 78°F, then the cooling tower will most likely provide cooling water between 83° - 85°F, no lower. The same tower cell, on a day when the wet bulb temperature is 68°F, is likely to provide 74° - 76°F cooling water. When selecting a cooling tower cell, the highest or the design wet bulb temperature your geographical area will encounter must be used. Highest wet bulb temperatures occur during the summer, when air temperatures and humidity is highest. For example, in Indianapolis, Indiana, the design wet bulb temperature is 78°F. Historically Indianapolis can expect less than one hour per year that the conditions exceed a 78°F wet bulb. Typically, 6,000 hours a year will have a wet bulb of 60°F or lower meaning that a cooling tower cell designed for a 78°F wet bulb will be able to make 65-67°F water for 6,000 hours per year nearly 70% of the year. Most cooling towers are capacity rated at a "standard" wet bulb temperature of 78°F. That means on the days when the wet bulb temperature is 78°F, the tower will produce its stated capacity. In other words, a tower rated to produce 135 tons of cooling will produce 135 tons of cooling at a 78°F wet bulb temperature. At a higher wet bulb temperature, the tower cell capacity to produce colder water decreases. Every location has a unique design (worst case) wet bulb temperature that is published by organizations such as ASHRAE and can be obtained easily.

What does it mean when your cooling tower water temperature is higher than the normal 5-7°F above the current wet bulb temperature?

  1. Your cooling load may be larger than the rated capacity of your cooling tower.
  2. Your cooling tower may have lost efficiency
  • Due to scale build up on the tower heat exchange surfaces.
  • Due to loss of air flow across the heat exchange surfaces.
  • Due to improper water flow from clogged nozzles or pump performance
What can you do to improve your tower performance? 

  • Add tower cell capacity
  • Check for the efficiency losses described above
  • Replace the heat exchange surfaces with new clean fill
  • Check for proper airflow
  • Check the water flow is at design
  • Check that nozzles are not clogged or broken

Cooling tower performance is tied to ambient wet bulb conditions. Higher wet bulb temperatures occur in the summer when higher ambient and relative humidity occurs. Initial system design and proper system maintenance is critical to be certain your cooling tower is providing desired cooling.

For more information, or to discuss your own heat transfer challenges, contact a product application specialist. Combine your own knowledge and experience with their application expertise to develop an effective solution.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Ball Sector Valves

industrial ball valves with actuators
Industrial ball sector valves with a variety of actuators
Image courtesy of Schubert & Salzer
The manufacturers of valves and other fluid control components for the processing industries have never been shy about tweaking designs to deliver better performance for a particular set of operating conditions. The available basic valve designs, along with their variants, create an immense catalog of potential candidates for each application.

One such design variant is the ball sector valve. It is a quarter turn valve, like its cousin the ball valve, but the trim is different. True to its name, the active closure structure is but a portion of what we know of as a common ball valve. Where a ball valve essentially has a sphere with a hole drilled through it, a ball sector valve more resembles a section of a hollowed out sphere with a shaped opening in the surface.

ball sector valve animation
Ball sector valve is a quarter
turn valve.
Image courtesy Schubert & Salzer
The closure in a ball valve can be floating or trunnion mounted. A ball sector valve will have a trunnion style mounted closure, with rigid support at the top and bottom. Ball valves, with their rotating fluid pathway resembling a short tube, are generally not the best option for flow control other than isolation. The ball sector valve functions similar to a sliding gate valve, providing an increasing or decreasing elliptical shaped opening as the shaft is turned.

Ball sector valves are well suited for applications involving isolation or control of viscous fluids, slurries, and other challenging fluids. Because of the construction and centric trunnion mounting, the seal area on the ball sector valve is kept free of the media, leading to reduced wear and superior longevity.

There are some good cutaway illustrations in the brochure included below that detail the valve construction. Share your fluid control challenges of all types with valve specialists, leveraging your own process knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop an effective solution.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Refinery Explosion Analysis and Animated Video Reenactment

Industrial accidents range in severity and impact from minuscule to catastrophic. As operators, owners, or technicians involved with industrial operations, we all have a degree of moral, ethical, and legal responsibility to conduct our work in a manner that does not unduly endanger personnel, property, or the environment. Maintaining a diligent safety stance can be helped by reviewing industrial accidents at other facilities. There is much to learn from these unfortunate events, even when they happen in an industry that may seem somewhat removed from your own.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, or CSB, is an independent federal agency that investigates industrial chemical accidents. The video illustrates their animated reenactment and causal analysis of an explosion that occurred at a refinery in Louisiana in 2016. Check out the video and sharpen your senses to evaluate potential trouble spots in your own operation. Share any questions or concerns with process control specialists and reduce the level of risk at your facility.