While choosing a particular valve there are two important considerations - quality and safety. Without the first, the valve may never effectively do what it was bought to do, but without the latter the effect can be disastrous - often running into millions of Euros.
Cryogenic valves are very similar to conventional valves, with the exception of materials and features such as an extended stem. These extended stems allow handles or actuators to be at an ambient temperature.
Stainless steel and copper alloys are used for most parts of the valves, especially pressure boundaries, though other stainless steels are used, including the precipitation hardened and martensite stainless steels. The cost of the material is generally outweighed by the cost of machining in most cases.
Cryogenic valves normally refer to valves with working temperature below -110°C, widely used in industrial gas, LNG, LPG and other low temperature applications and regulating or controlling the flow of cryogenic gases, slurries or liquids at low temperatures. These valves come in different shapes and sizes so that they can handle different pressures required by various applications. Some of the common types of cryogenic valves are butterfly valves, relief valves, ball valves and solenoid valves. The user can manually operate or automate cryogenic valves to handle large systems.
Cryogenic ball valves
In situations where one wants a tight shut-off in multiple applications, ball valves are employed. Ball valves are easier to use than other valves because they are capable of handling high-pressure flows and high volumes. On the pricing front, these valves are far cheaper than other valves.
Cryogenic butterfly valves
Cryogenic butterfly valves are used in throttling, or to control, the flow of cryogenic fluids. Butterfly valves are used, where a quick opening and closing of the valve is desired and since these valves do not have any pockets, fluids do not remain trapped after the valve is closed.
Cryogenic relief valves
In industries using cryogenic gases, cryogenic relief valves bring pressures to a preset value and protect the system from over-pressurisation. The valve lets off steam or gas when the safety limits are exceeded.
Cryogenic gate valves
To stop the flow of gases or fluids completely, a gate or a shut-off gate valve are used. These valves are designed in such a way that even in a fully opened position, the pressure drop is minimal.
Cryogenic globe valves
In industries that require high-pressure limits, globe valves are used to regulate the bi-directional flow of fluids, causing the pressure drop to increase in the valve. However, globe valves are quite complex, and consequently are not suitable for all applications.
Growth and prospects
When considering the huge investment and expansion programme of industrial gas projects worldwide, the demand for cryogenic valves has been increased to a great extent, providing valve manufacturers with tremendous business opportunities.
At the same time, leading world class companies have concentrated on setting-up the facilities near the consuming industry in the Asia and South American regions.
Overall growth in the global cryogenic valves industry was 4-5%, while some areas like Asia (Primarily China, India and some parts of South East Asia) and South America are witnessing upwards of 7% growth rates. In fact it would be more proper to say that these regions lay in the centre of major trends in the global valve industry.
Technologically advanced companies from Europe and America has moved into these regions, either singularly or by forming a joint venture with domestic companies to share a slice of this huge and growing market. On the other hand, the domestic manufacturers in each of these countries have remained niche players and are facing challenges to compete with the global players in terms of adopting state-of-the-art technology for manufacturing valves.
Major players in cryogenic valves
Bestobell Valves is one of the world’s foremost designers and manufacturers of Cryogenic valves and fluid control equipment, housed in a 30,000 square foot facility in South Yorkshire, UK.
Germany-based, Herose is one of the most important players in the global cryogenic valve industry and also boasts UK operations. Meanwhile Taylor Wharton has announced its brand Sherwood Valve’s consolidation and modernisation, helping the company with reducing costs, improved product quality and improved customer service.
Based in North America, Valcor Scientific specialises in solenoid driven fluid control devices. With a library of more than 18,000 designs, the Valcor Scientific design team claims to modify existing technology to suit practically every application.
Acme Cryogenics Inc., based in North America, has worked to improve and modernise the cryogenic gas equipment marketplace since 1969 and has created new and innovative products & services that have helped make the transportation, storage, and usage of cryogenic gases more cost efficient and effective.