What is the Downstream Stage of Petroleum Refining?

The petroleum refining process involves three distinct stages. We refer to these as upstream, midstream, and downstream. While CPV Manufacturing works with clients involved with each of these steps, today we want to focus on the downstream market stage. This stage involves turning petroleum into marketable products, distributing those products, and selling them to consumers. While petroleum resources are very valuable, they aren’t useful for the average person. More refining and processing is necessary to bring them to market. Downstream is where the raw natural gas or oil is converted into usable products, including gasoline, kerosene, lubricants, diesel oil, waxes, and others. People use these products every day, so the downstream market stage is very important for keeping demand met and the supply chain operating smoothly. 

Another important part of the downstream market stage is hydrodesulfurization. Petroleum materials in their unrefined forms contain poisonous hydrogen sulfide. This makes the materials dangerous for consumers and severely limits their use. Through hydrodesulfurization, the hydrogen sulfide is removed from crude oil or natural gas, rendering it safe for further refining. The hydrogen sulfide itself is converted into elemental sulfur or sulfuric acid, which both have industrial applications.

The downstream market stage is the final link in the petrochemical industry chain, connecting the average consumer to the vast industrial operation which supplies them. At CPV Manufacturing, we work with companies to ensure they are prepared for the unique challenges of the downstream market stage. From outfitting to repair, we provide the highest quality in materials and experience. 

If you’d like to learn more about the downstream market stage, the petroleum refining process, or the products we provide at CPV Manufacturing, please contact us.

Flow Control Valve Checklist – Avoid These Common Errors

Selecting the right flow control valve for industrial gas or filling operations can help optimize performance, ensure safety and avoid the loss of tens of thousands of dollars in downtime or lost production. An extreme example was the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. According to the author of an article in New Scientist, within a list of eight contributing factors, one was valve failure—leading to a disaster that was responsible for billions of dollars’ worth of damage and immeasurable environmental devastation. There are certain variables engineers should consider, in order to avoid making mistakes when selecting or specifying flow control valves.

A few of the industries that rely most on flow control valves for gas filling operations would include:

  • Chemical manufacturing–This is an industry that often requires precise control of gas flow during various stages of production and filling processes, to meter and regulate gas flow for chemical reactions, blending processes or packaging operations.
  • Food and beverage industry—Processing for various product types relies on carbonation, modified atmosphere packaging or cryogenic freezing, with flow control valves ensuring the controlled release of the appropriate gases, such as carbon dioxide or nitrogen, which help maintain desired product characteristics, extend shelf life, ensure quality or are pivotal to product creation itself.
  • Pharmaceutical and biotechnology—Precise gas control can help maintain sterile environments, control pressure differentials and/or regulate gas flow during filling and packaging processes, with precision necessary to maintain quality control or comply with regulatory standards.

Common miscalculations for flow control valves

Improper flow rate estimation. One of the most critical mistakes engineers can make is incorrectly estimating the required flow rate. Insufficient flow rate can lead to production inefficiencies, delays and even equipment failure. It is essential to consider factors such as gas properties, system requirements and potential future expansion when estimating the flow rate accurately.

Consult with the engineers at the valve supply company or manufacturer, look up relevant industry standards or utilize a simulation tool to help avoid this mistake.

Consider gas properties for compatibility

Different gases possess unique characteristics that can impact valve material selection. Gases can be temperature sensitive, reactive or corrosive, among other factors. An inexperienced engineer might not consider the entire list of characteristics when selecting a flow control valve, which can lead to material degradation or leakage. The consequences can include decreased system performance or increased safety risks.

Hydrochloric acid for example, is compatible with a variety of different fluoropolymers for soft goods such as O-rings, but only with one main metal, Hastelloy, for the valve itself.

The manufacturer can refer to material compatibility charts that supply important information to help match up materials with gas properties. This can help guide fabrication of the control valve.

Ignoring the pressure differential

This oversight can cause more than one issue:

  • Inadequate flow rate: Engineers should pay attention to the required pressure drop as pressure differentials play an important role in determining the flow rate through a system. Ignoring this can result in an inadequate flow rate, causing inefficiencies or reduced system performance.
  • Imbalanced system: The proper pressure differential helps maintain a balanced flow within a system. Ignoring this can disrupt the equilibrium and lead to uneven distribution of fluid or gases. This can create pressure fluctuations, backflows or erratic flow behavior, which if ignored for too long, can potentially damage system components.
  • Increased expenditures: If a valve is not sized correctly and the pressure drops, the system must work harder to increase the pressure requiring more energy.
  • Safety hazards: The system’s safety can be compromised if excessive pressure builds up downstream. This can increase leaks, or the risk of equipment failure.
  • Inaccurate control: The valve may fail to provide the desired level of flow regulation, which can lead to inconsistencies in fill rates, instability or the system’s inability to meet required operating conditions.

Disregarding maintenance

A flow control valve, like other mechanical components, will require occasional, but regular maintenance to help it reach its potential for lifespan. It is important not to neglect routine inspections, or the occasional lubrication that can benefit a flow control valve. Doing so can help improve valve efficiencies and avoid malfunctions or unexpected downtime.

More often than a complete valve replacement, typically the soft goods can be replaced to provide extended life to the valve itself. In an existing application, CPV Manufacturing has provided upgraded valves. For example, an older style valve regulating oxygen flow for 15 or 20 years formerly was made of bronze. This style is being phased out of service and replaced with brass—an easy slip in/slip out replacement for fit, form and function.

Like any other task, selecting the right flow control valve for industrial gas applications requires attention to detail and when in doubt, consultation with the valve manufacturer. Engineers can avoid many of the common mistakes associated with valve malfunctions by paying attention to pressure differentials and gas properties, among other aspects. This can improve system performance, operational efficiencies and plant safety with a valve that operates faithfully for many years without interruption.

CPV Manufacturing operates its domestic manufacturing facility to fabricate the highest quality valves such as flow control valves. It has supplied valves that meet stringent standards within the U.S. Navy as well as components for the aeronautics industry and gas processing operations of all types. Learn more about our product line and view our valve selection or call to speak with one of our engineers.

A Pointed Solution for Precise, Regulated Gas Flow—the Needle Valve

Looking for an alternative to a shut off valve? An option that can supply you with some alternatives for more sensitive gas flow control? Companies can help minimize stress and strain on machinery and components by slowing gas flow in a regulated, orderly manner with a needle valve. This type of industrial valve is commonly used in gas filling, petrochemical and chemical processing applications.

Come explore the basics of needle valves including features and their applications in industrial gas and petrochemical processing.

What are needle valves?

Needle valves are a type of valve that is used to control the flow of fluid or gas in a system. It can be manufactured of stainless steel, brass or bronze. Its construction is comprised of a valve body, a stem and a small, tapered point called a needle or alternatively referred to as a plunger. They are known for precision and accuracy in flow control.

How does a needle valve operate?

The needle moves up and down via a knob or handle that is attached to the stem, similar to the action of a needle in a sewing machine. As the needle or plunger moves, it adjusts the size of a small orifice within the valve body. This in turn, regulates the flow of fluid or gas, as the opening within the orifice regulates or determines the amount of flow of fluid or gas.

This operation of a needle valve can be automated or adjusted by hand. In a manual operation, the handwheel controls the distance between the plunger and the valve’s seat. Turned in one direction, the plunger or needle lifts, opening the valve to allow fluid or gas to pass through. If turned in the other direction, the plunger decreases the opening in the orifice as it moves closer to the seat, to decrease the flow rate or close the valve.

An automated needle valve usually is connected to a hydraulic motor or air actuator. While larger manifolds might rely on automated valves, specialty gas filling operations often choose manual regulation to provide individual control for different gases. Needle valves from CPV Manufacturing for automated systems are pneumatically operated.

This style generally has low flow rates and a large pressure drop. This gives the operator the ability to throttle or better regulate gas flow.

Standard sizing for needle valves from CPV Manufacturing would range 1/8th inch tube size up to 2-inch pipe on the high end. In terms of pressure, there are two series of needle valves available. One is a 3,000-psi series while the other is a 6,000 psi series. Some select products of up to 7,500 psi also are available.

Desirable features for this type of valve

Needle valves have several features that make them a popular choice for industrial gas and petrochemical processing applications:

  • Precise flow control – allowing users to adjust flow rates with great accuracy. This makes them ideal for applications with critical specifications for flow control rates, such as chemical processing or pharmaceutical manufacturing or aeronautics.
  • High pressure capability – making them a popular valve in the oil and gas industry. Typical pressure ratings for needle valves can range from 3,000 up to 7,500 psi or more. Needle valves can be specified for high pressure gases including elusive gases like helium, hydrogen and oxygen.
  • Temperature resistance – designed to withstand high temperatures, making them suitable for use in applications such as steam systems or petrochemical processing.

Some of the most common applications for needle valves, over a wide range of industrial gas and petrochemical processing applications can include:

  • Aerospace
  • Chemical processing
  • Gas cylinder filling
  • Petrochemical processing
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Propane systems

Companies know they can rely on CPV Manufacturing for the highest quality engineered equipment. For more than a century, CPV has specialized in supplying valves that fit the high standards and specifications of organizations from the U.S. Navy to the aeronautics industry and gas processing operations of all types. Investigate our valve selection to find a needle valve or other type that suits your operations.

How Valves Are Used in the Petrochemical Industry

Ah, the humble valve. What may seem like such a minor engineering component is, in fact, one of the most vital in the petrochemical industry.

The global ball valves’ market is worth over $12 billion US, with major valve manufacturers based in Europe, Japan, China, and the U.S. As such, the petrochemical industry is colossal and valve components are central to its success and safety as an industry. 

Looking to learn more about how valves are used in the petroleum industry? Keep reading the rest of this blog.

The Function of Valves in the Petrochemical Industry 

As mentioned, the petrochemical industry is massive, and its applications aren’t just limited to the production of oil and gas. 

Petrochemical plants are responsible for manufacturing, storing, and transporting a range of different materials. Some of these include plastics, dyes, additives, detergent, and other forms of petrochemicals derived from coal and natural gas. 

Essentially, valves are mechanical devices used in piping applications. They control, regulate, open, and close the flow and pressure of material fluids.  

There are a plethora of valve types used across a petrochemical plant, each of which has its own important function.

Typically, petrochemical valves are used to manage the following processes: 

  • Start or stop the flow of fluids such as hydrocarbons, oil, steam, water, and acid
  • Modulate the flow of fluid through a pipeline 
  • Control the flow of fluid through a pipeline 
  • Change the direction of the flow of certain fluids in a pipeline 
  • Regulate the pressure of fluids in a particular process 
  • Protect a piping system from overpressures or back-pressures 
  • Filter debris that could be flowing through a pipeline and protect equipment that could be damaged by solid parts 

A petrochemical plant is a fairly dangerous place as many of its daily operations are governed by extreme temperatures and pressure.

This is why valves are essential to the operation of petrochemical plants. They help to control the temperature and pressure of these material fluids as they move around each plant. 

Important Types of Valves and Their Function 

Valves used throughout the oil and gas industry are classified in a number of different categories. This includes disc type, body material, type of actuation, and design. 

Some of the most important in the petrochemical industry based on their design include:  

1. Automatic Shut-Off Valves 

Also known as safety valves, these components are essential to the overall safety of the personnel and equipment on a plant. These automatic valves help to prevent leakage and onsite explosions, while also preventing hazardous materials from escaping into the environment.

2. Gate Valves 

Knife gate valves are used to cut through very thick fluids such as petroleum and crude oil which helps to regulate and modulate the flow of this material. 

These gates can only handle a certain amount of pressure, so other gate valves are also valuable to a petrochemical plant, such as slide gate valves. 

3. Globe Valves

Globe valves are highly efficient at regulating fluids such as fuel and other toxic chemicals. They are also valuable in water cooling systems and with other fluids which do not require stringent leakage precautions.  

They are not suited to more viscous liquids, though. 

4. Check Valves 

Check valves are used across a petrochemical plant to regulate the backflow of fluids in a piping system. Essentially, they help to prevent unwanted flows which could damage apparatus such as pumps and compressors.

5. Ball Valves 

Ball valves are your industry-standard valves which are used for on-off applications. In other words, they’re used to open and shut-off the flow of fluid. They are generally lighter and more compact than gate valves, which serve a similar function. 

6. Butterfly Valves 

These valves serve the same purpose as ball valves, however, they are available in a concentric or eccentric design, with a far more compact shape. As such, they have become far more in-demand than ball valves.

Find Specialty Valves with CPV Manufacturing 

If you’re on the hunt for specific valves for a specific application, CPV Manufacturing is your industry go-to. 

Take a browse through our valve product selection guide and learn more about the specialty products we supply.