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How to Choose Ball Valve Made in the Netherlands

Ball valves are used in various applications, from industrial machinery to plumbing to food processing. You can use ball valves to control fluid flow through a piping system or to prevent contamination in industrial processes. They may be used with pressure regulators and other types of valves, such as butterfly and gate valves, for optimal operation. 

Due to the valve’s reliable sealing and long service life, they are commonly used as shut-off valves. Ball valves are also more resistant to damage from contaminated or dirty media than the other valve types. However, they aren’t very accurate, hence rarely used as control valves.

How Ball Valves Work 

Ball valves have five major parts: the stem, a ball, O-rings, ball valve seat, and valve housing. The working principle of a ball valve is rather simple once you understand each of these parts’ roles. For instance, the ball valve seat and the O-rings support the ball around the valve stem. 

The ball has a hole through it and is connected to the valve stem and can be operated manually or automatically using electricity or hydraulics. When the ball turns a quarter-turn (90 degrees), the hole either opens/closes to allow or restrict fluid flow. The valves’ housing assembly, circuit function, operation types, and ball design determine how a ball valve works.

Figure 1: Ball Valve Diagram: (1) valve stem; (2) O-rings; (3) Valve housing; (4) Ball; (5) Ball Valve Seat.

Circuit Function

Most ball valves have two ports and are operated manually using a lever. When the valve is closed, the lever is often perpendicular to the pipe and vice versa. Since a manually-operated valve can be closed quickly, there’s always a risk of a water hammer when used with high-pressure media. Ball valves with three or four ports are often fitted with a transmission, which could affect the flow direction and circuit function.

 Housing Assembly 

Ball valves often come in either of the three housing assemblies: one-piece, two and three-piece housings. The one-piece housing is cheap since the parts enclosing the ball are welded, and the valves cannot be opened for maintenance. Valves with two-piece housing can be disassembled for servicing. Still, there’s a need to remove the valve from the piping to separate the parts.  

With a three-piece housing, parts are clamped together using bolt connections. This is the most expensive valve used in high-demanding applications since it can be serviced while the valve is connected to the pipeline. 

Ball Design 

There are two main ball designs: the floating and the trunnion types. Most ball valves come with a floating ball, where the valve seats support the ball suspended in the fluid media. The trunnion design, however, has the ball supported on the top and bottom to avoid overloading/stressing the seat rings. The trunnion design is commonly used with large-diameter valves with high-operating pressures. Additionally, the hole or orifice through the ball can have varying profiles, such as reduced bore, full bore, or v-shaped bore design. Most valves have a reduced-bore design.

Types of Ball Valves

There are different types of ball valves, each designed to meet their unique applications. Below is a quick overview of the five main types of ball valves:

  • Standard valves. These are threaded ball valves consisting of two to four parts, which can be male or female-threaded. Standard valves are used in various industries where they meet approvals for specific applications/media.
  • Hydraulic valves. These valves have high-pressure ratings and high hydraulic and heating-oil resistance. They are made of steel or stainless steel, with seat valves made of POM material, ideal for high-pressure, low-temperature use cases.
  • Flanged valves. As the name suggests, these valves have ports connected using flanges, usually designed according to specific standards. They support high flow rates and can be used with specific media. Flanged valves are typically made of steel, stainless steel, or cast iron.
  • Vented Valves. This type is often used in compressed air systems. Their design resembles the standard two-way ball valves, but with their outlet port venting to the environment when it’s in a closed position.
  • Forged valves. These valves are suited for industrial systems with high pressures, temperatures, and other extreme conditions. Materials such as stainless steel and brass are used to construct these valves. Forged valves are durable, low-maintenance, and can quickly adapt to rapid temperature changes. 

Choosing a Ball Valve 

When choosing a ball valve, you want to understand your system requirements and the major specifications, such as connection types and expected life span. For instance, when choosing a high-pressure ball valve, you should pick the right connection type from options such as NPT threaded, BSPP threaded, DIN 2353, and welding end. 

Additionally, you should know the required approvals per industry. Gas applications and drinking water are the common ones. You should ensure that your valve meets industry safety standards and requirements. If you need help navigating the other technicalities, seek help from a trusted and seasoned professional to avoid selection mistakes.

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