Types Of Power Valve Actuators And Their Benefits

There are many different kinds of valve actuators. Some are manual, but the majority are power valve actuators, meaning that another source of power controls what the valve actuators do. If this sparks your interest, and/or you would rather have more power actuators in your plant than manual ones, here are the different types of power valve actuators and their benefits.

Electric Valve Actuators

Electric valve actuators are powered, obviously, by electricity. These valve actuators are plugged and wired directly into the plant's main electrical system. They typically open and close automatically, with only system signals to tip them off as to when to open and close. 

The benefits to installing electric valve actuators include:

  • Full automation of any areas of the plant that need valve acutators
  • Little down time if and when you need repairs
  • Consistent and reliable functioning, even when your power goes out and the generators have to kickstart the plant again

Electric valve actuators also shut down quickly in the event of an emergency. It is very rare that you would need to shut down these actuators manually.

Gas-Pressured Valve Actuators

Gas-pressured actuators rely on pressurized gas to open and close valves. Controls connected to these actuators time their gas pressure build-up and release so that the actuator is opened at a precise moment in time. The gas used may be natural gas, but it can also be pure oxygen or some other type of pure gas.

The benefits of gas-pressured actuators are:

  • More precise timing with opening and closing the valves
  • Pipe contents are released in exact amounts into the next section of pipe
  • If electricity goes out for more than a day and the generators refuse to function, gas-powered actuators continue to work

The downside to gas-powered valve actuators is that you need to keep the pressure constant, and you need to have adequate amounts of gas for the jobs at hand.

Hydraulic Pressurized Valve Actuators

Hydraulic pressure builds up with the movement of pistons and the existence of vacuums within the pistons. It utilizes a fluid to create the necessary movement to create the vacuum and the force it exudes. In industrial plants, the most common source of a fluid is water. This is why numerous industrial plants are built on, or close to, water. The hydraulics in the plant use this source of water to make everything in the plant go.

Hydraulic pressurized valve actuators, then, utilize the mechanics and the water (or other fluid) to build up pressure behind the valve in order to release the valve and open or close it on command. These valve actuators definitely have some benefits over the previously mentioned valves. 

The benefits of hydraulic pressure valves include:

  • Low electrical bills because water does most of the work
  • No gas emissions or environmental issues from the use of gases to open and close valves
  • Your plant can utilize the closest water source to "fuel" the hydraulic-powered actuator valves, on top of whatever industrial processes your plant already uses local water for

The downside to using hydraulic-powered actuator valves is that you will end up with wastewater or another fluid that has to be recycled and purified. If your plant does not have its own wastewater treatment facility, then you have to find the means to collect the wastewater or waste liquid and send it somewhere for purification.

When It Comes to Automation

When it comes to automation, all of the above powered valve actuators are excellent choices. All three types can be connected to an automation system and programmed and timed to work just right. It just depends on what type of "fuel" you want to use to make the valves open and close. To learn more about your options, contact a company like ETI Systems.