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Feature Report

Control Valves:
An Evolution
In Design Emily Hoop
Emerson Process

Understanding the design features of

globe-style control valves can help in FIGURE 1. The typical globe-valve design
prior to the 1960s included a heavy, thick-
selection for specific applications walled body casting with two internal ports
and a top-and-bottom guided valve plug

lobe-style control valves are in Background its cage-style, drop-into-place internals
virtually every chemical pro- A historic disruptive innovation was avoided many of these cost creators.
cessing line where pressure brought to market in the mid-1960s Its body casting minimized material
and flow must be controlled. with the introduction of cage-style use while still complying with all de-
And for the most part, they perform trim. Prior to that time, the control sign codes and requirements. It elimi-
as required, day in and day out, re- valve shown in cross-section in Fig- nated the machining and assembly of
quiring little to no thought or atten- ure 1 was typical of the globe design the previous design’s bottom flange
tion. In short, control valves are not offered by valve manufacturers. It and internal seat-ring ports. And since
an everyday topic of discussion. featured a heavy, thick-walled body the new trim style relied upon the flow
In fact, the globe valve provides a casting with two internal ports and a cage to control valve-plug movement,
direct contrast to today’s consumer top-and-bottom guided-closure mem- the potential for misaligned valve-
electronics where major changes seem- ber, or valve plug. Single-port valves plug guides was gone (Figure 2).
ingly are announced and touted every were offered as well, and their body
year. While these valves represent an castings mirrored that of the large, Benefits for the user
evolution of gradual change, signifi- double-port design. For decades these While the valve manufacturers real-
cant improvements in control capabil- valves provided adequate service in a ized a cost reduction in the new versus
ity, reliability and breadth of applica- wide variety of applications. So why old design, so did the valve user.
tion have been made in recent years. the dramatic 1960s change in body Tight shutoff reduces lost product.
Until about 45 years ago, globe shape, mass and trim design? Improved reliability meant reduced
valves with their massive body cast- The answer, quite simply, is econom- maintenance costs and increased plant
ings and rugged stem-guided valve ics. That double-ported valve required efficiencies. Double ported valves of-
plugs prevailed across the chemical a great number of machining opera- fered ANSI/FCI Class II shutoff, while
process industries (CPI). Yet despite tions. Both the bonnet and bottom the cage-designed valve provided a
their wide usage and decades of ser- flanges were drilled and tapped. The huge step change to ANSI/FCI Class
vice, the valves of that era were quickly internal webs were also bored and VI shutoff capability. Recapturing this
replaced by a new, efficient-in-design threaded in order to accommodate lost process equated to money back
globe-valve body that utilized inter- screwed-in seat rings. Assembling the in the user’s pocket. Maintenance be-
changeable, drop-in trim packages to dual-port valve body required extra ef- came less of an issue with cage-style
meet a wide range of control needs. fort to ensure that when the valve plug trim. For the most part, a changeout of
This article answers the “what” and moved to the closed position, its seat- trim components required pulling out
“why” questions about the changes in ing surfaces contacted the seat rings the old and dropping in the new — a
control valve design, and in doing so, simultaneously. All of these machin- relatively simple procedure.
offers readers a better understanding ing and assembly procedures required Protecting your investment with
of what valve features are available time and effort that built cost into the anti-cavitation trim. Prior to the
and how they may apply to particular final valve product. cage-style valve, answers to specific
application needs. The 1960s-design globe valve with control problems, such as cavitation
FIGURE 3. Drilled-hole shape and spac-
ing in the cage wall along with flow-down
design reduces and isolates cavitation to
prevent damage

Protecting your investment with

noise attenuation trim. Through-
out the CPI, steam applications
with high pressures and large
pressure drops can be noise
generators that cause equip-
ment damage and control
issues. Because it can affect
plant availability and prof-
itability, control valve noise
is a concern shared by plant
operators and maintenance
personnel. Equally significant
FIGURE 2. This 1960s globe-valve de- is the fact that high noise levels
sign has cage-style trim can cause health concerns for per-
sonnel whose workday keeps them on
and operating noise extremes, in- drops are above 207 bars (3,000 psi) the plant floor.
volved use of expensive and often less- and cavitation is a serious problem. It The prevalent noise source of aero-
than-successful solutions. With simple stages the pressure drop across suc- dynamic flow is fluid turbulence within
trim changes, these problems could cessively larger flow areas, such that the control valve body. Before cage-
now be solved with cost-effective and more than 90% of the overall pres- style trim, noise control techniques
reliable solutions. sure drop is taken in the first stages did not consider the reduction of flow
Staging the pressure drop so that where there is little danger of bubble turbulence as an answer. Instead,
the pressure remains above the liq- formation. Cavitation is completely they centered on the use of acoustic
uid’s vapor pressure can prove effective avoided, thus protecting the valve, wrap on the valve and adjacent pip-
in avoiding cavitation. With the pre- and providing an answer to the high ing, which served only to mask the
1960s valve, staging often involved the cost of valve trim replacement. noise. While this approach may have
use of an orifice plate downstream of The evolution of the specialty, anti- been adequate in protecting personnel
the main valve or the use of two valves cavitation trims has extended to ser- who were working close to the valve,
in series. However, these techniques vices where the fluid may have en- the noise would reappear downstream
typically displaced cavitation from the trained particulate matter that could relatively unabated.
main valve to the downstream restric- plug trim passages or cause erosion In the late 1960s and early 1970s,
tion and did not effectively control the damage to conventional anti-cavitation studies focusing on the mechanisms
cavitation in the system. They also trims. Used frequently in high pres- and abatement of control valve noise
increased valve size, as less pressure sure-drop applications up to 4,200 psid, led to the development of different
drop was available to process the same this trim design employs a combined strategies to control fluid-generated
amount of flow. Cavitation control was axial and radial flow path with large noise. Today, putting these strategies
often less than successful, and the con- openings that allow particulate matter to work are cage-style trims that uti-
tinual need to replace damaged piping up to ¾ in. in diameter to pass through lize unique flow-passage shapes and
components proved costly. the valve. Due to the need for tight multi-stage pressure reduction — ca-
The cage-style valve delivered an shutoff in many applications, its multi- pabilities not possible with previous
answer to this cavitation dilemma stage design features a protected seat generation valve designs.
with its specialized cages. For exam- where the shutoff function of the valve A principle noise-reduction strat-
ple, one cage design contains a mul- is separate from the throttling areas of egy is to break the aerodynamic flow
titude of highly engineered, shaped the trim. All significant pressure drops stream into many small, parallel
holes that improves the flow perfor- are taken downstream of the seating flow passages that ensure exit jet
mance. The holes are radially aligned surface, and the seating surfaces are independence as flow exits the cage.
to flow cavitating jets of liquid to col- not worn away by throttling control This technique reduces the power of
lide in the center of the flow stream, action. The result, once again, is that the noise source as it shifts the fre-
thereby avoiding damage to valve and replacement trim costs are avoided. quencies to a higher, more easily dis-
pipe surfaces (Figure 3). Continued product evolution of that sipated range. Up to 18 dB(A) of at-
A more-extreme pressure-drop mid-60s valve innovation created an- tenuation is typical.
cage trim is designed specifically for swers to other long-standing control Yet another cage architecture uti-
liquid applications where pressure valve problems. lizes drilled hole technology to deliver
Feature Report

excellent noise reduction for a wide been essential to the CPI, today the
range of vapor, gas and steam applica- demands are different thanks to global
tions. Providing up to 30 dB(A) of at- competition and continued pressure to
tenuation, these cages also employ jet boost plant performance and improve
independence and frequency shifting. process reliability. As never before, the
The design of this style flow cage gives control valve has a direct impact on a FIGURE 4. The laser-cut, stacked-disk
the added benefits of flexibility of size, facility’s operational excellence — a cage design is a concept in multi-path,
multistage acoustic energy manage-
pressure class, materials of construc- combination of profitability, plant effi- ment that reduces valve-caused aerody-
tion, rangeability and attenuation. ciency, quality and safety — putting it namic noise
At the top of the noise attenuation at the top of the process engineer’s list
hierarchy is the laser-cut, stacked- of critical control equipment. Texas, only 14 of those valves actually
disk cage assembly (Figure 4) that Looking ahead, will there be an- needed service. By evaluating, diag-
provides up to 40 dB(A) attenuation in other control-valve design revolution nosing and prioritizing control valves
even the most severe applications. It to match that of the 1960s? The basic for maintenance prior to a plant turn-
employs unique passage shapes that concept of a globe valve with drop-in, around, the user realized substantial
stage pressure reduction to reduce cage-style trim continues to provide cost savings.
acoustic efficiency and turbulence. dependable process control over an This ability to analyze a control
Utilizing the expanding area principle extreme range of applications. How- valve’s operating condition, aptly
to compensate for volumetric expan- ever, while change and development called performance diagnostics, en-
sion of depressurizing gas, the veloc- of the globe-style control valve march ables performance monitoring of the
ity is managed through the valve. The ahead at a slow and measured pace, entire valve assembly (not just the
parallel flow passages ensure exit jet that’s not the situation with valve- digital valve controller) while the
independence, avoiding jet recombina- related instruments. valve is actively controlling the pro-
tion and providing efficient coupling cess. Examples of identifiable issues
into the valve body. This stacked-disk The digital valve controller include the following:
cage design actually shifts the fre- The introduction of the digital valve • Low air supply or pressure drop
quency spectrum, which reduces the controller some 15 years ago marked • Incorrect regulator setting
audible acoustic energy and strain a step-change in control valve opera- • Dirty air supply
energy in piping. Combined with the tion and maintenance by enabling • External air leak (actuator dia-
complementary body design of the functionality that goes far beyond phragm or tubing)
control valve, the solution prevents that of the traditional analog or pneu- • Calibration shift
impingement on the body wall and of- matic positioner. • Valve stuck
fers enough cavity size and shape to Today, the role of the digital valve • Piston actuator O-ring failure
control secondary noise sources. controller is to ensure control valve • Excessive valve-assembly friction
Cavitation and noise control trims performance and reliability, first by ac- • Excessive valve-assembly deadband
are but two examples of how control curately establishing and maintaining • Elastomer failure
valve capabilities have evolved since a control valve’s operating position to • Broken actuator spring
the 1960s globe-valve revolution. reduce process variability, and second Performance diagnostics continu-
by diagnosing the operating health of ously analyze the valve assembly
Environmental challenges the assembly to allow predictive and and passively gather data without
Continued studies into the mecha- effective control-valve maintenance. disturbing or interrupting the control
nisms of fluid flow brought answers For example, the digital valve con- valve while it is in the process. These
to other tough applications, such as troller — when interfaced with ad- diagnostics may be used to help de-
extreme high-pressure control and vanced asset-management applica- tect problems; and when identified,
related clearance flow problems. Cryo- tions — provides a way to increase the diagnostic provides a description
genic liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant reliability and productivity while and severity of the problem, a proba-
services needed answers on how to reducing costs. Diagnostic software ble cause and a recommended course
ensure continued valve operation utilized with the controller serves as (or courses) of action.
and survival at temperatures down a configuration, calibration and diag- Dynamic performance diagnostics
to –321°F (–196°C), and valve metal- nostic tool. Of particular importance are run optimally as part of a plant
lurgists helped provide those answers. is that the software provides feedback shutdown. These full-stroke tests vary
Environmental mandates required an- regarding control valve operation, re- the digital valve-controller setpoint
swers to valve-related fugitive emis- sulting in the identification of poorly and plot valve operation to provide
sions. Extended studies and evaluation functioning valves that are impacting insight into the dynamic performance
programs led to packing systems that process efficiency. of the valve/actuator assembly. Per-
not only perform beyond minimum As an example, in one of many such formed while the valve is isolated
requirements, but also ensure smooth instances when valve diagnostic soft- from the process, the tests include
and continued valve operation. ware was utilized to evaluate 188 valve signature, dynamic error band,
While control valves have always valves at a major chemical plant in step response and stroke check.
cal linkages inherently prone to ing costs, improved product quality,
wear. A magnet array connected greater product throughput and in-
to the valve stem slides through creased levels of worker safety.
a Hall-effect sensor in the digital Available today are smart wireless
valve controller to detect valve adapters for use on digital valve con-
travel. The digital valve control- trollers that utilize the HART com-
ler paired with this control valve munications protocol. The adapter
provides a local pushbutton for provides an easy way to access other-
calibration. This feature brings wise “stranded” valve diagnostics. The
the control valve into a new realm wireless adapter also can be used to
of intuitive use for instrument pass along important valve operating
and control technicians. and maintenance information, includ-
The decision to design this ing valve friction, pneumatic leaks (air
product may have been driven by mass-flow test), and instrument prob-
economics, but it was made possi- lems (I/P [going from an electric signal
ble by means of modern tools and to a pneumatic signal] and relay integ-
processes previously not available. rity test), that can be viewed and ana-
Tools — such as computer aided lyzed to improve process performance.
FIGURE 5. This compact chemical-service design (CAD) software — im- Wireless valve monitoring is avail-
control valve is equipped with an integrated
digital valve controller that features non-con-
proved the ability for foundries to able today. Wireless valve control is
tact, linkage-less technology make consistent patterns to cap- not. Yet many plant operations are
ture the design intent. Today, pat- embracing today’s position monitor-
Since a process control plant, regard- terns are made directly from 3D mod- ing and looking toward wireless valve
less of industry, makes money based els to ensure accuracy. Finite element automation and control in the near
on its ability to minimize variability analysis (FEA) is used to calculate future. Designers of control strate-
and maximize availability, the digital stresses to optimize casting weight. gies will take increasing advantage of
valve controller becomes an essential Fluid dynamic modeling is used to wireless instrumentation to expand
control valve component thanks to its analyze flow geometry for an optimal the reach of automated valve control
ability to maintain control valve posi- performing design. Manufacturing as well as gain increased valve-health
tion, provide assembly diagnoses and processes also evolved to a new level of awareness. The digital communica-
enable predictive maintenance. efficiency. Not only are the tools care- tion link with globe valves has de-
fully defined for each step of assem- creased the cost of commissioning
The digitally integrated valve bly, but also the process in which the thanks to auto-tune and auto-cali-
While keeping up with the latest re- product is tested throughout assembly, brate features.
vision of our consumer electronics, both improve the overall quality. An- The possibility of wireless control
our culture has grown accustomed other level of precision and quality is will greatly reduce commissioning
to products that are intuitive. These achieved by using the lost wax-casting cost. Performance diagnostics im-
products allow us to do our jobs faster, process to achieve design goals. These prove the reliability of globe valves
more efficiently and most often with modern processes finally provided the by communicating impending prob-
fewer resources. A recent innova- means to execute the ideal control- lems so that repair can be planned
tion was the design of the digitally valve design for CPI users — smaller, and executed prior to an unplanned
integrated control valve (Figure 5). lighter and less expensive. outage. Once again, the driving force
The valve, actuator and digital valve of globe valve evolution is economics,
controller were designed together, Wireless valve control reducing the total cost of ownership.
providing optimized performance Wireless technology in process control This, in all likelihood, is the next con-
and using the theoretical minimum is becoming a game-changer. It low- trol valve revolution. ■
of parts needed. Alloy constructions ers implementation costs, creates new Edited by Dorothy Lozowski
became much more affordable to the approaches to valve monitoring and
CPI user than previous valve designs, control strategy, and expands access
Emily Hoop is the mar-
including the 1960s cage-style design. to areas within the plant that were keting manager for sliding
Reliability and maintenance were im- previously out of reasonable reach. stem control valves with
Emerson Process Manage-
proved and, of course, the cost to the While the simplicity and economic ment, Fisher Business Unit
(301 South 1st Ave., Mar-
user reduced yet again. advantages of wireless are chang- shalltown, IA, 50158; Email:
This concept offered a tidy and com- ing new-project and new-installation Emily.hoop@emerson.com;
Phone: 641-754-3750). She
pact solution, having eliminated ex- wiring practices, the largest target of has been with Emerson for
ternal tubing and reducing the overall opportunity lies with valves that are 9 years. Hoop started her
career in sales engineering
envelope dimensions. Now the digital already installed. Plants that imple- and worked in both the chemical and refining
valve controller could sense the valve ment wireless feedback gain the com- industries. She received a B.S. in mechanical
engineering from Iowa State University of Sci-
stem position without using mechani- petitive advantages of reduced operat- ence and Technology.