When you are looking to regulate the flow of a fluid, a valve functions to control, guide, direct, and modulate such a substance in a system. There are multiple types of valves on the market, all of which offer specific advantages for different applications. In aircraft, a ball valve is used in the piping of the aircraft altimeter to control flow within the system for accurate pressure readings. This blog will take a closer look at the ball valve design so that you may better understand its functions, applications, and various designs.
What Is A Ball Valve?
A ball valve, the most popular type of valve, is a mechanical device used to regulate fluids like gasses, liquids, or vapors. This valve design comprises a hollow, perforated, and turning ball situated between two seats. An actuator or a wrench handle is used to manipulate the ball’s position as desired by turning the ball 90 degrees to position the hole of the ball either parallel or perpendicular to the flow of the fluid. An anticlockwise, 90 degree rotation stops the flow, while a subsequent 90 degree, clockwise rotation reopens the flow. Part of the reason these valves are popular is their long service lives and high reliability. Additionally, they can be operated pneumatically, electrically, or manually. Another advantage that ball valves offer is their high resistance to dirty and harmful fluids.
How Does A Ball Valve Work?
The ball valve relies on the 90 degree rotations of the actuator or wrench handle to regulate flow by determining whether the hole of the ball is in line with the flow. A ball valve can also be kept in a partially-open/partially-closed position for throttling flow; however, this position should not be used for long periods of time as it can lead to the valve getting stuck.
Types of Ball Valves
Within the category of ball valves, there are subcategories of different ball valve designs, those of which include eleven major types. Standard port valves are ideal for high flow rate systems, V-port valves hold the ball in a V-shaped seat ideal for efficient control, and multi-port ball valves offer multiple holes as a means to connect pairs of ports. Furthermore, reduced port ball valves create pressure loss by lessening flow area, while full port ball valves provide continued flow area and create a friction drop. Additionally, one can choose between a one-piece or a two-piece ball valve; the former is the cheaper option, while the latter is more easily cleaned and maintained as it can be disassembled. A three-piece valve can be further disassembled, and its parts can be removed for repair without removing the valve from the system. For larger systems, a top entry valve style is optimal because it allows the seats and ball to be maintained without valve removal from the pipeline. Their design also allows for minimal threaded connections that minimize leakage possibilities. Side-entry valves offer the advantage of easy assembly and quick delivery times because they do not require much testing. On the other hand, welded body valves are welded into a system for applications where removal and maintenance is not required; however, this design must withstand non-destructive testing (NDTS) prior to installation.
Advantages and Disadvantages
With various designs available on the market, including these eleven and more, ball valves find use in countless applications across a variety of industries. They offer the advantage of having simple, lightweight designs that offer low fluid resistance and are easy to repair/assemble. At the same time, ball valves can open or close too quickly, leading to flow issues, and ball valves cannot function for fluids like slurries, as the cavities around the ball make it susceptible to failure.
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