The Best Ball Valve Alternative For Industrial Use

Published May 24, 2021

ball valve alternatives, laid out on a table

Ball valves have been a long-term standard in spite of their operational flaws. Decision-makers accepted the standard and budget for the long-term maintenance for ongoing repairs. Budgets are even adjusted to provide enough replacement valves during high-demand periods. But what if there was a better, alternative solution?

Ball valves are common in industrial environments, but are they the best? In this article, we list some of the best ball valve alternatives available today. The below alternatives are not inclusive, but help in the search for a better solution.

Needle Valves

There are three distinctions between a needle valve and a ball valve. This includes the amount of flow, micro-adjustments, and speed of closure. The project needs will determine what valve is best for the application.

The needle valve is also known as a precision valve. The valve can restrict the flow of content by incremental amounts. To support various flow rates, the needle valve is designed for micro-adjustments. The ball valve can only provide course adjustments. The ball valve is designed to be open with unrestrictive flow or closed. This design hinders the valve from being used as a permanent throttle. Nor can the valve adjust to a precise amount of flow.

To reduce the flow pressure from causing the hammering of pipes, the needle valve closes at a slow rate. The valve requires many turns to get from an open position to a closed position. Ball valves are likely to cause hammering, since within a quarter turn the valve is fully open or closed.

Butterfly Valve

At a quick glance, the butterfly valve resembles the ball valve. Both have a lever that opens and closes the valve. The difference shows up in the mechanics inside of the valve. A butterfly valve uses a metal disc at the center of the valve that rotates to regulate flow. The flow is reduced when the fluid flows around the disc, even when fully open. This allows for a precise measurement of flow volume.

The ball valve is designed to be open or closed. Since the lever moves from open to close in a quarter turn, there is no room for incremental volume adjustments. There is no way to maintain a precise position of flow with a ball valve, other than fully open.

Lift Plug Valve

When it comes to oil and gas, the lift plug valve is one of the best ball valve alternatives around. The particulate-laden flow can damage the ball seats over time. This can cause in-line leakage and ecological disasters.

The lift plug valve offers the same 90-degree operation. It is ideal for high-pressure and high-temperature applications. The design is different enough that the material doesn’t degrade the valve. The tapered plug is lifted from the seat, not turned in it, thereby reducing friction damage.

The valve seat on a lift plug is also larger than a ball valve, which eliminates leakage caused by wear. The lifting process itself removes the valve from a high maintenance category. It also increases the periods between replacement.

Spring-Loaded Valve

The dynamic shut-off, with fluid pressure forcing the ball valve to seal and prevent flow, drives significant seal wear and tear. Add particulate-laden water flowing against and scratching the seal, time-consuming maintenance is imminent.

The spring-loaded Y-pattern valve offers some of the key benefits of a ball valve, without the wear and tear on the Teflon seal. The spring-loaded valve is controlled by a pneumatic single or double actuator and spring assembly. The piston raises to open flow and lowers into the valve seat to shut-off flow. This puts the valve’s life cycle at 5X that of the ball valve.

Rotary Plug Valve

When the amount of pressure needs to be controlled, the rotary plug valve reduces pressure better than the ball or butterfly valve. The ball valve is designed to be open or closed. This results in the inability to make micro-adjustments, especially when the ball seat is impacted by pressure, temperature, and medium properties.

The goal is not about the minimum flow rate, but the minimum controllable flow rate. The rotary plug reduces the amount of pressure when shifting between open and closed. This extends the life of the seal. The closure creates turbulence that determines the maximum amount of pressure. Because the rotary valve has more surface area for the seal, it can withstand that additional pressure.

This ensures the seat only touches in the closed position, stopping particles from getting caught and damaging the seal. The particles get washed away in the high-pressured flow. This also means that the particles are not present to create friction problems.

Diverter Valve

The diverter valve handles the most abrasive media. The valves feature a self-lapping and self-cleaning design that extends its performance. This low-maintenance valve is ideal for pumping to multiple silos.

The innovative design eliminates downstream plugging. The unique open-body design gives plenty of room for media to flow and discharge freely. The diverter keeps the closed seat and disc surfaces sealed from abrasive particulates. The self-lapping disc rotates to polish away any scratches. This makes for a tighter and stronger seal. And, reduces maintenance.

The Best Ball Valve Alternative

The above partial list suggests that there are many solutions to replace the inefficient and costly ball valve. The ideal solution is directly correlated to the job or function required of the ball valve alternatives. Everlasting Valve makes alternative valves that work well and are cost-effective.

Everlasting Valve specializes in:

  • Process valves
  • Diverter valves
  • Bulk material valves
  • Boiler blowdown valves

They work well in brutal environments and applications that survive the test of time. Check out the case studies and reduce your maintenance program when you need valves that handle cement production, power generation, petroleum production, and refining.

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