Fluid Controls Ltd is one of the UK’s leading distributors for pressure control

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How do ball valves work?

A process ball valve is used in industrial settings to manage the flow measurement and control of liquids, gases and vapours into a piping system. They’re incredibly important for the control of fluids in a process system. So, how do ball valves work? Continue reading to discover everything you need to know about ball valves.

How do ball valves work?

A ball valve is a shut-off valve that controls, obstructs and allows the flow of fluids (liquids, gases, and vapours). It is controlled by the rotating of a ball inside the valve. Mounted against two seats, and with a bored hole through its centre, the ball has a shaft that connects it to the operating and control mechanism that is used to rotate it.

When the cross-section of the ball is perpendicular to the area of the flow, the liquid, gas or vapour is restricted from passing through. When it is parallel to the flow, liquid can pass through. By moving the control mechanism, the level of the flow can be controlled and restricted. This is managed depending on how much of the bore in the ball is exposed to the flow.

Ball valves are simple to use and produce an on/off and throttling function. They are quick-opening and require just a quarter-turn to open or close. When the control mechanism is set 90° from the pipe system, the fluid flow rate is closed. They can also be manually operated or controlled by hydraulic, pneumatic or electric actuation.

Where are ball valves used?

Ball valves can be used in many different applications, but are primarily used in the industrial processes of water supply and water/waste water treatment.

Plastic ball valves have also been used successfully in the chemical industry.

What components are in a ball valve?

Inside a ball valve system, there are five key components:

  • Ball – the ball is hollowed out with a bored hole through its centre. This serves as the opening and closing of the flow.
  • Seat – the seat provides a sealing mechanism between the ball and body.
  • Bonnet – The bonnet is part of the housing that is used to protect the shaft and its packing. It can be welded or bolted to the body.
  • Shaft – this connects the ball to the control mechanism that is used to rotate the ball. The shaft can be manually operated or controlled by hydraulic, pneumatic or electric actuation.
  • Housing – this contains all of the internal components, and is often referred to as the body.

Advantages and disadvantages of ball valves

There are many positives to using ball valves, both manually and automatically, but they also come with some disadvantages.

The advantages of ball valves are:

  • Quick and easy to open
  • Simple to operate and maintain
  • Low turbulence when fully open
  • Can handle high flow capacities
  • Low pressure drop

There are some disadvantages, though, and they are:

  • Not suitable for solid applications
  • When opened quickly, it could cause water hammer or pressure surges
  • Vent holes needed for expanding gases

Process ball valves at Fluid Controls

Fluid Controls supplies quality ball valves from several high profile ball valve manufacturers. Parker Instrumentation design and manufacture a range of high integrity instrumentation valves for worldwide applications. Widely used in industries from analytical through to offshore, the ball valves range includes miniature ball valves, high-pressure ball valves, rotary plug valves and swing out ball valves.

At Fluid Controls, we stock a wide variety of different types of valves, including, check valves, metering valves, high purity valves, ball valves, needle valves, sanitary valves, relief valves and solenoid valves. As valve distributors, our wide array of products means we can cater to whatever valve you need for your specific application.

We only work with the finest valve manufacturers, including Parker, Bürkert, Veriflo and Top Line, so we can ensure your product will be of the highest quality. Speak to one of our knowledgeable and experienced advisers today, who will be only too happy to guide you towards selecting the most appropriate valve.

For more information, contact us on +44(0)118 970 2060 or email fluid@fluidcontrols.co.uk.

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