Control valves are valves used to control conditions such as flow, pressure, temperature, and liquid level by fully or partially opening or closing in response to signals received from controllers that compare a “set point” to a “process variable” whose value is provided by sensors that monitor changes in such conditions.
The opening or closing of control valves is usually done automatically by electrical, hydraulic or pneumatic actuators. Petitioners are used to control the opening or closing of the actuator based on electric, or pneumatic signals. These control signals, traditionally based on 3-15psi (0.2-1.0bar), more common now are 4-20mA signals for industry, 0-10V for HVAC systems, and the introduction of “Smart” systems, HART, Field bus Foundation, and Provirus being the more common protocols.
The choice of valve for a particular application depends on various factors such as the fluid flow rate, the process temperatures and pressures, and whether the fluid is corrosive or abrasive. An important design consideration for safety is the maximum pressure and temperature of the flowing fluid as this will dictate a safe thickness for the body material and may determine which materials can be used. The capacity of a valve is measured in Cv, Kv or Av and can be determined experimentally for a valve by testing it, for example by measuring the amount of water that flows through it at a certain pressure differential across the valve.
The valve needed for an application will depend on whether the fluid is a liquid, gas or multi-phase fluid and on the properties of the fluid. Normally a number of process conditions – each of which will specify the inlet and outlet pressure, temperature, flow rate and maybe other fluid details – are used to calculate a required capacity, and to estimate the noise and the cavitations. Valves often have interchangeable internal components, called the trim, which can be selected to modify the valve to accommodate particular process conditions. For example perforated trim can be used to reduce the noise level by splitting the flow into multiple independent streams.
Due to the complexity of the fluid flow, noise and cavitations calculations often required to size and select an appropriate control valve many manufacturers provide a computer program to assist their customers. For example Severn Glocon and Dresser provide downloadable sizing programs. A small number of software companies have specialist products for this market such as Sahir Projects,Conval, Millstream Software Valve Sizing Program and Configurator solutions Configurator Solutions.