Valves are a crucial element of any fluid system, allowing for flow to be regulated, directed, or controlled through the manipulation of passageways. The ball valve in particular is a form of shut-off valve, commonly being implemented within a piping system for the means of managing liquid, gas, or vapor flow. Ranging from simplistic, manual types to more automated assemblies, ball valves can benefit a wide variety of industries. In this blog, we will discuss the ball valve in more detail, allowing you to determine whether it is a good fit for your needs.
While ball valves will often vary in their design based on their application and other factors, there are certain components that are common to all. For example, the outer shell of the valve is known as the valve housing, and it serves to guard all the internal components while providing access to control mechanisms. To ensure such protection, the ball valve housing will be constructed from metal, thermoplastics, or thermoplastic-lined metals.
The ball itself is a sphere with a centralized hole, that of which is known as the bore. The bore is the medium which all fluids pass through, and its adjustment will determine the rate of flow. The ball may either be solid or hollow, the two presenting slightly differing characteristics. With a solid ball, a constant opening diameter is exhibited, allowing for fluids to pass through the valve with a consistent velocity. Hollow balls are true to their name, featuring a hollow interior that increases the amount of fluids that pass through the valve. While hollow balls are lighter and cheaper, they do have the downside of creating increased turbulence and high velocities.
In order for the control mechanism to rotate the ball, a shaft connects the two together. As leaking is a very undesirable issue, the shaft will utilize o-ring components and packing rings to seal up the shaft and bonnet. Depending on the complexity of the valve and the particular requirements of the application, the shaft may be manually, electrically, hydraulically, or pneumatically actuated. The bonnet is important for the wellbeing of the shaft, and it is attached to the valve housing through welding or fastening. The final major component is the seat, that of which seals the ball from the outer body.
Depending on one’s needs, there are numerous body and ball types that can be utilized, all of which present different advantages and disadvantages. For instance, the one-piece ball valve is quite simplistic and cheap, but they are more difficult to clean and repair due to their construction. As such, the one-piece ball valve is most often used for less intensive applications where particle build-up is rare. Meanwhile, more intensive applications such as pharmaceutical manufacturing and food and beverage processing will require types like the three-piece ball valve, that of which is a more complex assembly that is bolted together. The valve balls follow a similar pattern, and common options include floating ball valves, trunnion ball valves, vented ball valves, and others.
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