Applications, Advantages and Limitations of Ball valves

Posted by sere on June 28th, 2021

Ball valves are mechanical devices that are used to restrict or allow the passage of a fluid (liquid or gas) in a piping system. They are known as quarter-turn valves because a 90o rotation of the handle is all that is required to change the valve position from fully open to fully closed or vice versa. 

Types of Ball Valves

There are several ways by which ball valves may be characterized. These include by the material used in their fabrication, by the valve body construction, by the stainless steel valves configuration, or by some other parameter such as the fluid handled or nature of the internal design features.

The types of ball valves characterized by the valve body material include:

Brass ball valves

Stainless steel ball valves

Plastic ball valves (includes PVC and other polymers such as polypropylene and PVDF)

Bronze ball valves

Cast iron ball valves

Steel ball valves

Looked at from the perspective of valve body construction, the types of ball valves include:

Split-body ball valves

Top-entry ball valves

End-entry ball valves

One-piece ball valves

Two-piece ball valves

Three-piece ball valves

Applications of Ball Valve

Ball valves are used in many different industries. Some of these include chemical, oil & gas, pharmaceutical, food processing, HVAC, sanitary applications, and others such as corrosive media and cryogenics. Many manufacturing processes use ball valves, and they are widely used in residential settings as well. They can effectively function with a full range of media, including liquids, gases, chemicals, potable water, fuels, and food and beverages, provided that the material selection for the valve components was done with the type of media in mind.

Advantages of Ball Valve

Ball valves have many advantages. They are very easy to use, open and close quickly, and are available in multi-port designs unlike some other valve styles like globe or gate valves. They are also smaller and lighter than other valve styles and can have a lower price point. They are reliable devices and offer a long service life. Additionally, they can have lower operating torque than other valves.

An added plus is that the regulating element's design makes it easy for the ball valve to work without concern about side loads, which often plague globe or butterfly valves. Some designs also allow for easy repair or retrofit of the valve should problems develop with seats or seals, without having to remove the valve body from the installation.

Limitations of Ball Valve

One ball valve limitation is that when used in slurry applications, it is possible for suspended particles to get trapped in the body cavities of the valves, which can lead to premature wear, leaks, or valve failure necessitating replacement. As stated at the beginning of this article, they are for the most part best suited for shut-off service applications, although some designs such as the V-ported ball valve have flow regulation capability.

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