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.