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THE MANUFACTURERS VOICE

Non-Return-Valve and/or Check Valve for Pump systems a new approach


This time I want to come back to the topic - nonreturn valves or so called check valves. These valves are widely used but not really recognised as important and, for Process Lines, usually considered as necessary but must be as cheap as possible. This approach costs a lot of energy and losses in media quantity. Below I will show you a possible solution to increase the efficiency of your system.

To start with lets have a look at actual solutions


Everyone working in the Process industrial business is involved with nonreturn valves as they are commonly used in applications such as chemical processes, gas turbines, automotive, water distribution networks, water pipelines (pipelines in general) and others where unidirectional flow is required. The valves open in only one direction. When pressure in the opposite direction is applied, the valves close a well known fact. If we take a look at the different types of non-return-valves (check valves) we find a multiple approach to solve the problem of back-flow prevention. Among these valves are so called ballcheck-valves, flap valves, piston check valves, swing check valves, tilting disc check valves and many more (Figure 1 shows a very common swing check valve).
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Common to all these non-returnvalves is that they create a more or less extreme head-loss (head-loss= loss in pressure through the valve, also referred to as p) in correlation to the flow velocity and most of these valves do not open completely with 100% free passage. This gives some problems for pigging/scraping of pipelines. Additionally in lots of actual systems we can hear the clanking of the flaps / discs as a pump frequently does not have a real laminar flow. Manufacturers

have tried to find an alternative method by designing more and more ambitious solutions like dashpots, cushioning, shock absorbers amongst others (Figure 2 shows a typical design of a dash-pot Valve where the blue coloured device shows the main function the shock absorbing hydraulic unit.) As we can see from these different possibilities, they all have in common a closing element direct in the flow to prevent the back flow of the media after a pump stop and also, for bigger

May 2009

THE MANUFACTURERS VOICE


We need for this function: i. Butterfly valve (because of the fast 90 rotation) NB. A ball valve reduces the headloss even more but is more expensive and is only appropriate for high pressure lines and high velocities. Main use for large diameter pipelines e.g. water transmission pipes ii. Pneumatic single-acting spring-return actuator iii. Pneumatic air supply system iv. Solenoid valves and electrical connection to 1-phase of the pump with a timer relay. This solution is a so called combined pump-start and non-return valve unit see Figure 5. systems to avoid the back hammering of the liquid column into the pump, which ultimately leads to the pumps destruction. As you can imagine, the lifetime of these valves is basically shorter than that for ON-OFF valves and, further, these valves are subject to maintenance. To guarantee a proper access to these installations (check valve and the pump as well) the usual design is to put in the pressure line an ON-OFF valve - typically a wedge gate valve or a butterfly valve - after the check valve (in the flow direction) and the same on the suction side (usually a Valve with 20 30% more capacity) see Figure 3. In the following picture you can see the influence of the closing element and the shape of the valve on the head-loss respectively in the reaction time taken to prevent the back-flow (see Figure 4). From the points already discussed you can see that we gain the benefit of back flow prevention / water hammer reduction but with less efficiency in energy consumption and flow capacity. Lets look at a better and more efficient solution: Firstly we remove the check valve completely from the pipeline and use the isolation valve. We reduce this valve to the required functionality: i. Shut off valve for pump maintenance ii. Slow opening of the pressure side valve against the starting pump iii. Fast closing of the valve in case of pump-stop and/or power failure to prevent back flow and water hammer as a fail-safe function mechanical solution without power & sensors is required. The function of this system is as follows: The pump-start and non-return valve unit is a butterfly valve with a pneumatic spring return actuator (the actuator closes the Valve with a spring without energy needed and/or any sensor & solenoid Valve). For opening the valve: A solenoid valve which actuates the butterfly valve via the pneumatic actuator is connected with a slave relay to 1-phase of the pump (initiation is only possible when the pump is switched ON!) with an integrated timer (also possible separately). During the pump start the slave relay initiates the solenoid Valve (3/2-way valve) with a time delay (timer) so that the pump starts fully against the closed valve. After a certain time (related to the pump curve) the solenoid valve opens and allows the pneumatic actuator to move the butterfly valve in the open direction (with this pneumatic actuator a controlled opening time between 3 seconds and several minutes is adjustable). For closing the valve when the pump is switched off: The slave relay cuts off the solenoid valve from the power supply and opens the exhaust port of the pneumatic actuator which, in turn, releases the compressed air and the
2 May 2009 www.valve-world.net

THE MANUFACTURERS VOICE


spring closes the butterfly valve against the water column. The closing speed is independently adjustable from the opening speed in the same time range. The closing sequence of this valve can be realised even faster than a check / non-return valve as the power-off of the power supply to the pump initiates the closing sequence and is independent from the flow velocity of the water. After tripping the pump the pump propellor needs a certain time to stop, as well as the water column, to undergo the velocity needed to close a check valve. Finally, the most important part is that the closing sequence and the initiation are completely independent from any sensing equipment, electricity or power supply fully mechanical and therefore 100% fail-safe. As an additional benefit you get a significant reduction of head-loss which leads directly to less power consumption or higher capacity Q inside the transmission pipeline and, last but not least, less investment in valves no more check / non return valve and less maintenance. The pump-start and non-return valve unit also acts as a pump maintenance valve like any other simple butterfly valve.

Meet Gnter xler


Gnter xler has a long history within the valve industry. He graduated in Process Engineering and Mechanical Engineering in Stuttgart, Germany, holds a MBA degree in VWA as well as a Controlling degree and is a REFA Specialist. For more than 25 years, Gnter xler has worked for several companies in the valve business, companies such as J.M. Voith GmbH (Hydropower and Paper Machinery), Erhard GmbH (R+D Process Valves and project engineering), and Festo AG & Co. KG (Project Manager and Project Engineer Process Automation). He is also member of the IWA, ISA, and VDI German Engineer and he is multilingual as he speaks 5 languages, among which are German, English, French, Italian and Spanish. Gnter can be contacted under: OEX@DE.FESTO.COM

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May 2009