In the oil, gas and petrochemical industry, precision control of the flow of product through valves in the system is vital, and modulation of that flow depends on the valve actuator. These critical pieces of equipment must perform reliably and safely under the most extreme conditions: very high and low temperatures, drought or high-rainfall environments, remote situations in deserts or the arctic, and the corrosive effects of chemicals, high humidity or salinity for extended periods. In potentially explosive atmospheres, explosion protection is required; and in some applications, fireproof operation is critical.
In addition to the core function of opening and closing the valve, the actuator forms a crucial interface between the process and the supervisory control system, providing seamless integration into whichever distributed control system (DCS) is used in the plant network. Moreover, where the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) plays a role, electric actuators equipped with powerful electronics must serve as information hubs, providing direct access to a wide variety of both process and diagnostics data.
Plant and pipeline operations depend on a high degree of valve automation for fundamental functions. The complex processes involved with the flow of material, pumping stations, compressor stations, etc., require the valve positioning to be accurate and extremely reliable.
Actuators must operate the full range of valves—from ball valves, butterfly valves, gate valves to others—to control the flow of both gas and liquids. Typically, ball or butterfly valve actuation requires part-turn actuators that provide a swivel movement of generally 90 degrees for full travel. Gate valves, on the other hand, typically need multi-turn actuators that provide a high number of turns to operate the valve from open to close and vice versa
Another differentiation is the type of duty the actuator has to perform, whether that’s open/close or modulating. Actuators used to isolate a segment, allow maintenance or interruptions in the process, or in worst case stop a leak, are required to operate infrequently to open or close shut-off valves.
Modulating actuators, on the other hand, provide enhanced positioning accuracy for control valves to precisely modulate the flow within pipes. In the upstream segment, this is for the flow of crude oil and natural gas; in the midstream segment, it’s for the storage and transportation of resources. In the downstream segment, this is for the refining process of crude oil, as well as the sale and distribution of both the refined product (i.e., gasoline, fuel, asphalt, etc.) and to feed raw materials to a variety of petrochemical industries that use petroleum-based products to make plastics, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals and more.
- Compare various types of final control elements
- Understand a typical valve operation in a control loop
- Differentiate between various types of valves and the benefits of each
- Compare rising stem to rotary style valves
- Analyze a control system to determine control valve needs
- Use ISA standards for control valve specification and selection
- Size valves for any flow condition likely to be found in a process plant
- Evaluate and select actuators for specific applications
- Specify appropriate auxiliaries including positioners and I/P transducers
- Design control valve installations that are safe and trouble-free
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