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The Concise

Valve Handbook
The Concise
Valve Handbook
Actuation, Maintenance, and
Safety Relief

Volume II

Michael A. Crabtree


The Concise Valve Handbook: Actuation, Maintenance, and Safety
Relief, Volume II

Copyright © Momentum Press®, LLC, 2018.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored

in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—­
electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other—except for
brief quotations, not to exceed 400 words, without the prior permission
of the publisher.

First published by Momentum Press®, LLC

222 East 46th Street, New York, NY 10017

ISBN-13: 978-1-94708-369-1 (print)

ISBN-13: 978-1-94708-368-4 (e-book)

Momentum Press Automation and Control Collection

Cover and interior design by Exeter Premedia Services Private Ltd.,

Chennai, India

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Printed in the United States of America

To my wife Pam—for her love and patience

Volume II: Actuation, Maintenance, and Safety Relief, takes an in-depth

look at actuators and positioners. This volume also explores a variety
of maintenance and diagnostic issues including: testing for dead-band/­
hysteresis, stick-slip and non-linearity; on-line diagnostics; signature
analysis; and correct procedures for calculating the spring “wind-up” or
“bench set.”
A complete section is also devoted to the whole field of safety relief
Lastly, this volume covers a number of topics which are all too often
ignored: acoustics; water hammer; and even classification of stainless


acoustics, actuators, block and bleed, diagnostics, fail-safe, maintenance,

positioners, safety relief valves, stainless steel classification, transfer
mechanisms, water hammer

List of Figures xv
List of Tables xxiii
Foreword xxv

Volume I
1   Basic Principles 1
1.1  The Final Control Element as Part of the Control Loop 2
1.2  Basic Theory 3
1.3  Equation of Continuity 3
1.4  Bernoulli’s Equation 5
1.5  Choked Flow 8
1.6  Pressure Recovery 9
1.7  Turndown Ratio and Rangeability 11
1.8  Velocity Profiles 12
1.9  Reynolds Number 13
1.10 Flashing and Cavitation 14
1.11 Flashing 15
1.12 Cavitation 16
1.13 Leakage Classification 18
1.14 Isolation Valve Leakage Classification 21
2   Liquid Valve Sizing 23
2.1  Practical Considerations 23
2.2  Application of Formulae 24
2.3  Sizing Example 1 27
x  •  Contents

2.4  Piping Geometry Factor 29

2.5  Sizing Example 2 31
3   Gas Valve Sizing 33
3.1  Pressure Drop Mechanism 33
3.2  Specific Heat Ratio Factor 38
3.3  Gas Expansion Factor 40
3.4  Valve Sizing 41
3.5  Sizing Example 1 43
4   Valve Construction 47
4.1  Globe Valve 48
4.2  Bonnet Assembly 49
4.3  PTFE (Teflon) 49
4.4  Laminated Graphite 50
4.5  Extended Bonnet 52
4.6  Bellows Seal Bonnet 52
4.7  Valve Trim 54
4.8  Guiding 55
4.9  Post-guiding 55
4.10 Top- and Bottom-guided Double Seat 56
4.11 Single-ported Balanced Globe Valve 57
4.12 Cage-guiding 58
4.13 Split Body Globe 59
4.14 Angle Is 60
4.15 Needle Valve 61
4.16 Bar Stock Body Valve 61
4.17 Gate Valve 61
4.18 Wedge Gate 62
4.19 Slab Valve 64
4.20 Expanding Gate Valve 65
4.21 Knife Edge Gate Valve 67
4.22 Pinch Valve 69
4.23 Diaphragm Valve 72
4.24 Rotary Control Valves 74
Contents   •   xi

4.25 Ball Valve 75
4.26 Trunnion Ball Valve 77
4.27 Characterized Ball Segment Valve 81
4.28 Butterfly Valve 82
4.29 Plug Valve 84
4.30 Eccentric Plug Valve 86
4.31 Check Valves 88
4.32 Valve Sizes and Pipe Schedules 88
4.33 Material Selection 90
4.34 Corrosion 90
4.35 Erosion 94
4.36 End Connections 94
4.37 Screwed End Connections 94
4.38 Flanged End Connections 95
4.39 Hub End Body 96
4.40 Welded End Connections 96
4.41 Lap Joint Flange 98
4.42 Flangeless Connections 99
4.43 Grayloc® Connector 100
5   Valve Trim and Characterization 103
5.1  Inherent Characteristics 103
5.2  Linear Inherent Flow Characteristic 103
5.3  Equal Percentage Inherent Flow Characteristic 104
5.4  Quick Opening Inherent Flow Characteristic 104
5.5  Modified Percentage Inherent Flow Characteristic 105
5.6  Characteristic Profiling 105
5.7  Installed Characteristics 105
5.8  Cavitation Control 108
5.9  Reducing Cavitation 110
5.10 Eliminating Cavitation 112
5.11 Noise Sources 113
5.12 Mechanical Noise 115
5.13 Hydrodynamic Noise 116
xii  •  Contents

5.14 Aerodynamic Noise 117

5.15 Noise Prediction 117
5.16 Noise control 117
5.17 Path Treatment 118
5.18 Insulation 119
5.19 Silencers 120
5.20 Source Treatment 120
5.21 Velocity Control 120
6   Valve Selection 123
Glossary 129
Bibliography 131
About the Author 133
Index 135

Volume II
7    Valve Actuators and Positioners 141
7.1  Pneumatic Control 141
7.2  Flapper–Nozzle Assembly 141
7.3  I/P Converter 142
7.4  Diaphragm Actuators 144
7.5  Springless Diaphragm 145
7.6  Advantages and Disadvantages of Diaphragm Actuators 147
7.7  Cylinder Actuators 147
7.8  Spool Block 149
7.9  Electro-Hydraulic Actuation 149
7.10 Electric Actuation 150
7.11 Torque Limiting 152
7.12 Hammer-Blow Mechanism 153
7.13 Solenoid Valve 153
7.14 Digital Actuators 155
7.15 Transfer Mechanisms 157
7.16 Valve Positioners 161
7.17 Positioner Guidelines 163
Contents   •   xiii

8   Valve Testing and Diagnostics 167

  8.1  Deadband and Hysteresis 167
  8.2  Testing Procedures 169
 8.3  Online Diagnostics 173
 8.4  Electronic Torque Monitoring 176

9   Valve Maintenance and Repair 179

 9.1   In-Line Repairs 180
 9.2   Repairs Under Pressure 180
  9.3   Repairs on Drained Systems 181
 9.4   Packing Replacement 181
  9.5   Replacing or Refinishing Seat Rings 181
 9.6   Other In-Line Repairs 182
 9.7   In-Line Post-Repair Procedures 182
 9.8   Shop Repairs 182
 9.9   Actuator Bench Set 183
 9.10  Spring Calculations 184

10  Safety Relief Valves 187

  10.1  History 187
  10.2  Definitions 190
  10.3  Weight-Loaded Pressure/Vacuum Relief Valves 191
 10.4  Spring-Loaded Relief Valves 192
 10.5  Applications 194
 10.6  Limitations 194
 10.7  Safety Valves 194
  10.8  Basic Operation: Lifting 196
  10.9  Basic Operation: Reseating 198
  10.10 Conventional Safety Relief Valves 200
  10.11 Balanced Safety Relief Valves 204
  10.12 Bellows-Type Balanced Safety Valve 204
  10.13 Piston-Type Balanced Safety Valve 206
  10.14 Non-Reclosing Pressure Relief Devices 211
  10.15 Conventional Rupture Disc 215
  10.16 Scored Tension-Loaded Rupture Disc 215
xiv  •  Contents

  10.17 Composite Rupture Disc 216

  10.18 Graphite Rupture Disc 217
  10.19 Burst Disc Applications and Installation Practices 218
  10.20 Performance Tolerance 219
  10.21 Maximum Operating Pressure 221
  10.22 Cyclic/Pulsating Duties 221
  10.23 Case A: 276 kPa (g) or Higher 222
  10.24 Case B: Lower than 276 kPa (g) 223
  10.25 Standards 223
Appendix A: J–T Valve 225
Appendix B: Basic Acoustics 227
Appendix C: Block and Bleed 241
Appendix D: Water Hammer 245
Appendix E: Stainless Steel 255
Glossary 263
Bibliography 265
About the Author 267
Index 269
List of Figures

Figure 7.1. The flapper–nozzle assembly converts a

small physical displacement into a pressure change. 142
Figure 7.2. As the flapper moves away from the nozzle, the airflow 
will increase and the output pressure will fall. Although
this produces a non-linear output, over the normal range
of interest, 0.2 to 1 bar (3 to 15 psi), the relationship is
normally considered to be a straight line. 143
Figure 7.3. The 4–20 mA current signal is applied to a coil that
is physically attached to a spring diaphragm on which is
mounted the flapper. As the current varies, its magnetic
field interacts with the permanent magnet field,
­deflecting the diaphragm by an amount proportional
to the control signal current. 143
Figure 7.4. Typical configuration of an I/P converter
(courtesy Foxboro). 144
Figure 7.5. A direct-acting diaphragm actuator. 145
Figure 7.6. A reverse-acting diaphragm actuator. 146
Figure 7.7. Springless diaphragm actuator uses a
differential air input. 146
Figure 7.8. The cylinder or piston-type actuator. 148
Figure 7.9. Size comparison between a diaphragm actuator
(left) and cylinder actuator (right) mounted on two
comparable valves (courtesy Valtek International). 148
Figure 7.10. Pneumatic spool assembly in which the incoming
air is supplied to either one or other side of the actuator,
while at the same time, simultaneously exhausting air
from the opposite side (courtesy Mitech). 149
Figure 7.11. Swing jet controller. 150
xvi  •   List of Figures

Figure 7.12. Basic electrically operated actuator. 151

Figure 7.13. (a) The worm drive is free to move longitudinally on
a spline that is held in its central position by means of
­pre-loaded torque springs. (b) If the valve reaches its
end position, the tangential force on the driven wheel
rises and displaces the worm gear axially on its shaft
against the pressure of the holding springs. 153
Figure 7.14. The worm wheel and output shaft are connected
via a dog coupling with backlash. When the rotation
direction is reversed, the backlash first has to be
covered, and the motor can run up to its nominal
output speed without load before the valve is
unseated (hammer blow). 154
Figure 7.15. A direct-acting solenoid valve. 154
Figure 7.16. A three-way solenoid valve might be used to switch
air from one side of an actuator diaphragm to the other
(a) de-energized position (b) energized position. 155
Figure 7.17. P&ID representation of a three-way solenoid valve
(dot indicates normally open (N.O.) port and a solid
­indicates normally closed (N.C.) port. 155
Figure 7.18. Typical construction of a ‘four-phase’ stepping
motor with a basic step of 1.8°. 156
Figure 7.19. Rack and pinion transfer mechanism (courtesy
Figure 7.20. Double-piston arrangement (a) air is supplied f­ orcing
the pistons away from each other and rotating the
­pinion ­anticlockwise (b) air exhaustion (loss of pressure)
allows compressed springs to force the pistons toward
each other and rotate the pinion clockwise (courtesy
Spirax Sarco). 158
Figure 7.21. Double crank transfer mechanism (courtesy Mitech). 159
Figure 7.22. In the double-crank mechanism, the run torque
(the torque in a mid-position) is higher than the
end torque. 159
Figure 7.23. Scotch yoke transfer mechanism (courtesy Mitech). 160
Figure 7.24. Vector diagrams showing reaction force on the
rocker arm. 161
Figure 7.25. Vector diagrams showing moment of the reaction
List of Figures   •   xvii

Figure 7.26. In the scotch yoke mechanism, the end torques are
twice as high as the run torque (the torque in a
Figure 7.27. Basic principle of operation of a pneumatic positioner. 162
Figure 8.1. Deadband as a result of mechanical play within
a gear-train. 168
Figure 8.2. An illustration of hysteretic error. 168
Figure 8.3. Hysteresis: A combination of deadband and
hysteretic error. 168
Figure 8.4. Determining the effects of hysteresis/deadband as a
result of an input change of two steps up, three down
and one up (courtesy Michael Brown Control
Figure 8.5. The effects of stick-slip, without hysteresis and
deadband (courtesy Michael Brown Control
Figure 8.6. As the PD increases in regular step, the PV increases
in a series of steps that gradually become smaller,
showing a marked non-linearity that is typical of an
oversized valve. 171
Figure 8.7. Testing connections for a complete pneumatically
operated final control assembly. 172
Figure 8.8. Negative hysteresis: one of the effects of an
undersized actuator (courtesy Michael Brown
Control Engineering). 173
Figure 8.9. Plotting the ‘valve signature’ plot with the actuator
pressure plotted on the y-axis and the travel plotted
along the x-axis. The separation between the opening
(red) and closing (blue) lines is the result of the
friction band (courtesy Fisher-Emerson). 174
Figure 8.10. The packing friction is approximately twice that of
the previous example. Typically, this might be due to
errantly over-tightening the packing, resulting in the
­excessive friction (courtesy Fisher–Emerson). 175
Figure 8.11. An example of a valve signature showing several
revealed faults (courtesy Fisher–Emerson). 176
Figure 8.12. Opening torque characteristics of a typical wedge gate
valve in which the valve position (travel) is plotted on
the x-axis and the torque demand is plotted on the
y-axis (courtesy Rotork). 177
xviii  •   List of Figures

Figure 9.1. Although not generally recommended, in-line repair

can be carried out while the line is still under
pressure, on gate and globe valves having back seats. 180
Figure 9.2. Forces developed on a nominal 50-mm valve plug. 185
Figure 9.3. Unbalance of forces. 186
Figure 10.1. Family of pressure relief devices, classified as either
reclosing or non-reclosing. 188
Figure 10.2. Papin’s safety valve was kept closed by means of a
lever and movable weight. Sliding the weight along
the lever kept the valve in place and regulated the
steam pressure. 188
Figure 10.3. The weight of the seat assembly (or pallet) keeps
the valve closed until the pressure acting on the
underside equals this weight. 191
Figure 10.4. When associated with tank breathing (1 to 4 in WC),
weight-loaded valves are often referred to as a
‘conservation valves’ and provide IN- and
Figure 10.5. Spring-loaded pressure relief valve. 193
Figure 10.6. The valves have closed bonnets to prevent the release
of corrosive, toxic, flammable, or expensive fluids
and can be supplied with lifting levers. 194
Figure 10.7. The spring of a safety valve is usually fully exposed
and has a lifting lever for manual opening. 195
Figure 10.8. Illustration of the standard defined areas. 196
Figure 10.9. Typical disc and shroud arrangement used on rapid
opening safety valves. 197
Figure 10.10. Operation of a conventional safety valve. 197
Figure 10.11. Relationship between pressure and lift for a typical
safety valve. 198
Figure 10.12. Blowdown ring is threaded around the valve nozzle
and positioned to form a huddling chamber with the
disc skirt. 199
Figure 10.13. When the blowdown ring is adjusted up, the forces
required to lift the seat disc occur very close to set
pressure and the blowdown is long. When the ring is
adjusted down, the seat lift does not occur until the
­pressure under the seat disc is considerably higher
and the blowdown is short. 199
List of Figures   •   xix

Figure 10.14. Schematic diagram of a valve with the spring housing

vented to the discharge side of the valve. 201
Figure 10.15. Schematic diagram of a valve with spring housing
vented to the atmosphere. 202
Figure 10.16. Bellows-type balanced safety valve. 205
Figure 10.17. Block schematic of a bellows-type balanced safety
valve showing force balancing. 205
Figure 10.18. Block schematic of piston-type balanced safety valve
showing force balancing. 207
Figure 10.19. High-pressure pilot-operated valve incorporating an
unbalanced piston and an integrally mounted pilot. 208
Figure 10.20. Alternative seating arrangements available for a
pilot-operated piston-type safety relief valve. 209
Figure 10.21. Low-pressure diaphragm-type pilot-operated valve. 209
Figure 10.22. Similar in construction to a spring-loaded valve,
but using a shear-pin in place of a spring. 212
Figure 10.23. The basic buckling pin valve comprises a pin of a
precise length that holds a piston on its seat. As the
pressure increases and the axial force on the pin
subsequently also increases, the pin will buckle. 212
Figure 10.24. Also known as a rupture disc, bursting disc, or burst
diaphragm, the disc is designed to rupture at a
­predetermined pressure and, once ruptured, will not
re-seal (courtesy Oseco). 214
Figure 10.25. Bursting discs may be forward- or reverse-acting. 215
Figure 10.26. Typical rupture disc holders (courtesy Oseco). 215
Figure 10.27. Conventional domed rupture discs are pre-bulged
solid metal discs designed to burst when operating
conditions are 70% or less of the rated burst
Figure 10.28. Scored tension-loaded rupture discs allow a closer
ratio (generally 85%) of system operating pressure
to disc burst pressure. 216
Figure 10.29. Composite rupture disc (courtesy Continental
Disc Corp.). 217
Figure 10.30. Graphite rupture disc manufactured from graphite
impregnated with a binder material and designed to
burst by bending or shearing (courtesy Svi Carbon
Private Limited). 217
xx  •   List of Figures

Figure 10.31. Bursting disc installed on a safety valve. 219

Figure 10.32. Performance tolerances. 220
Figure 10.33. A zero-manufacturing range is the tightest, meaning
the average of the burst tests in the factory must
equal the nominal burst pressure at the
coincident temperature. 221
Figure 10.34. Determining the upper and lower maximum operating
ranges according to whether the pressure lies above
or below 276 kPa (g). 223
Figure B.1. Graphic representation of a sound wave showing
frequency and amplitude. 228
Figure B.2. Addition of harmonics to the fundamental:
(a) second harmonic; (b) third harmonic. 229
Figure B.3 Two identical loudspeakers connected across
an amplifier. 231
Figure B.4. Logarithmic response of the human ear. 232
Figure B.5. The 10-fold power ratio increase is designated a
Bel with each power increment of 26% being
one-tenth of a Bel—called a decibel (dB). 233
Figure B.6. Simple circuit showing power developed
by a resistor. 235
Figure B.7. Doubling the power is achieved by only a 1.414
increase in voltage. 236
Figure B.8. Threshold of hearing (lower) and of pain (upper). 238
Figure B.9. Equal loudness contours. 239
Figure B.10. A- B-, and C-weighted responses required for
measuring sound pressure levels. 240
Figure C.1. (a) Under normal operation, the valves are set
with the isolation valves 1 and 2 open and the bleed
valve 3 closed. (b) When isolating the downstream
equipment, the valves are set with isolation valves
1 and 2 closed and bleed valve 3 open. 242
Figure C.2. Typical construction of a single double
block-and-bleed valve (courtesy Habonim). 242
Figure C.3. The bleed often takes the form of a cap or plug. 243
List of Figures   •   xxi

Figure D.1. If a moving column of liquid (a) is slowed down

suddenly by, for example, a quick-closing valve,
the sudden change in liquid velocity in the delivery
line creates a pressure wave (b). 246
Figure D.2. The pressure wave travels back up the line (a) at
between 1,000 and 1,300 m/s, to the end of the pipe
where it will reverse direction and travel back toward
the valve (b). 247
Figure D.3. Depending on the valve size and system conditions,
a valve closing in 1.5 s or less can produce a pressure
spike five times the system working pressure. 248
Figure D.4. Hydraulic shock wave produced as a result of
accumulated condensate in steam piping. 249
Figure D.5. A pulsation dampener or surge suppressor. During a
surge, the fluid pressure displaces the bladder and
compresses the trapped gas. 251
Figure D.6. A Daniel gas-loaded axial flow style valve in which
nitrogen gas is used to pressurize the valve piston
to keep it in the closed position (courtesy Emerson). 252
Figure D.7. As the pipeline pressure increases, the combined
force of the spring and nitrogen gas pressure is
overcome and the valve opens (courtesy Emerson). 253
Figure E.1. In ferritic stainless steel, the atoms are arranged in a
body-centered cubic structure. 256
Figure E.2. Ferritic stainless steel family. 257
Figure E.3. With the addition of nickel, the atoms in austenitic
stainless steels are arranged on the corners of the
cube and also in the center of each of the faces. 257
Figure E.4. The relationship between the various 300 series
austenitic grades. 258
Figure E.5. The martensitic Grade 400 series. 261
Figure E.6. Relationship between the complete family of
stainless steels. 262
List of Tables

Table 10.1. Typical operating pressure to burst pressure ratios

(courtesy BS&B) 222
Table 10.2. Safety valve performance summary 224
Table B.1. The wavelengths of several frequencies travelling
in air 230
Table B.2. Gain and attenuation ratios expressed in dBs 234
Table B.3. Sound intensities of various sources 238
Table D.1. Some typical velocities in various liquids 246
Table E.1. Difference in the properties of ferritic and austenitic
stainless steels 258
Table E.2. Chemical composition of standard grades (courtesy
International Stainless Steel Forum) 260

In this book, ‘The Concise Valve Handbook—Part 2. Actuation, Maintenance,

and Safety Relief,’ I have made use of a building-block approach, present-
ing material in a form suitable for two distinct classes of reader: the
beginner, with no prior knowledge of the subject and the more advanced
The complete text is suitable for the advanced reader. However,
those parts of the text that involve a mathematical treatment, which are
not required by the beginner, are indicated by a mark ► at the beginning
and ◄ at the end. Consequently, for the beginner, the text may be read,
with full understanding, by ignoring the marked sections.
I offer no apologies for my preference for metric-based measurement—
the SI system. Apart from the United States, only two other countries in
the world still adhere to the fps system (foot-pound-second)—the so-called
imperial system first defined in the British Weights and Measures Act of
1824—Burma and Liberia.
I have tried to mix it up as far as possible, and I have got a units con-
version table right in the front of the book. But, for the moment, just try for
the following:

1 bar = 100 kPa ≈ 1 atmosphere ≈ 14.7 psi

1 inch = 25.4 mm
20 °C = 68 °F
100 °C = 212 °F

And lastly, while I have made some compromises (analog instead

of analogue; program instead of programme), I reserve my right to spell
according to the British system:
xxvi  •  Foreword

English United States

Metre Meter
Litre Liter
Fibre Fiber
Colour Color

Unit Conversions

Quantity SI United States customary

Distance 25.5 mm 1 in
1 millimetre 0.03937 in
1m 39.37 in
1m 3.281 ft
0.9144 m 1 yd
Area 1 square metre (m2) 1550 in2
1 square metre (m2) 10.76 ft2
1 square metre 0.00155 in2
­millimetre (mm2)
Volume 1 cubic metre (m3) 61.02 in3
1 cubic metre (m3) 35.31 ft3
0.02832 m3 1 ft3
1 litre 61.02 in3
1 litre 0.03531 ft3
1 litre 0.2642 gal
3.785 litres 1 gal
Mass 1 kg 2.205 lb
454 g 1 lb
Force 1N 0.2248 lbf
4.448 N 1 lbf
Pressure 1 bar 14.504 lbf/in2 (psi)
1 kPa (kN/m2) 0.145 lbf/m2 (psi)
6.895 kPa 1 psi
1 psi 0.0361 inches H2O
(in WC)
Foreword   •   xxvii

Quantity SI United States customary

Temperature K 1.800 °R
°C 1.8 °C + 32 = °F
Flow rate 1 m3/h 4.403 gal/min (gpm)
1 kg/h 2.205 lb/h

Valve Actuators and


In any flow control loop, a primary sensing flow device is used to produce
a signal, which ultimately controls a valve: either to open or close, in an
ON/OFF mode, or to provide proportional control. The actuator, therefore,
is that part of the final control element that moves the control valve—
either in a linear manner (for the control of a globe valve) or in a rotary
manner (for control of butterfly or ball valves).
An actuator may be powered electrically, pneumatically, or hydrau-
lically. However, despite the trend away from pneumatically controlled
instrumentation and toward electronics, the actuator still remains predom-
inantly pneumatic.

7.1 Pneumatic Control

In the process control instrumentation field, the pneumatically controlled

actuator is still used for four main reasons:

• users feel that there is little, if any, improvement in the performance

of electric actuators;
• the cost of electric actuators is higher than pneumatic actuators;
• the power dissipation on electric actuators is considered excessive,
giving rise to thermal problems; and
• users feel that pneumatic control is more reliable and can provide a
FAIL-OPEN or FAIL-CLOSE operation.

7.2 Flapper–Nozzle Assembly

At the heart of most pneumatic process control systems lies the flapper–
nozzle assembly (Figure 7.1)—a device that converts a small physical
142  •   The Concise Valve Handbook


Flapper Pressure


b a

Figure 7.1.  The flapper–nozzle assembly converts a

small physical displacement into a pressure change.

displacement into a pressure change. An air supply is applied to the nozzle

via a pressure reducing restriction, such that the output pressure will be
lower that the supply pressure by an amount determined by the flow of air
from the nozzle.
The outflow of air from the nozzle varies according to the position of
the flapper. With the nozzle covered, the pressure approaches the supply
pressure, but as the flapper moves away from the nozzle, the airflow will
increase and the output pressure will fall. This is shown in Figure 7.2.
The input displacement is applied to the flapper, which increases or
decreases the distance from the nozzle, and thus varies the output pres-
sure. It should be noted that the displacement range is quite small, of the
order of micrometres and produces a non-linear output. However, over
the normal range of interest, 0.2 to 1 bar (3 to 15 psi), the relationship is
normally considered to be a straight line.

7.3 I/P Converter

A common application of the flapper–nozzle device is the electro-­

pneumatic current-to-pneumatic converter, normally referred to as an I/P
converter, which, typically converts a standard 4–20 mA process signal
into a pneumatic output varying linearly over the range 20 to 100 kPa (3
to 15 psi). In a practical arrangement, the flapper is physically attached to
a spring diaphragm on which is mounted a coil system (Figure 7.3). The
coil is arranged within a magnetic field that is produced by a permanent
magnet. As the current in the coil varies from 4 to 20 mA, it produces
Valve Actuators and Positioners   •  143


Pressure (bar)
a b
Displacement (µm)

Figure 7.2.  As the flapper moves away from the nozzle,

the airflow will increase and the output pressure will
fall. Although this produces a non-linear output, over the
normal range of interest, 0.2 to 1 bar (3 to 15 psi), the
relationship is normally considered to be a straight line.

Permanent magnet

4 – 20 mA

Nozzle Flapper

Spring diaphragm

Figure 7.3.  The 4–20 mA current signal is applied

to a coil that is physically attached to a spring
diaphragm on which is mounted the flapper. As the
current varies, its magnetic field interacts with the
permanent magnet field, deflecting the diaphragm by
an amount proportional to the control signal current.

a magnetic field that interacts with the permanent magnet field. The
­diaphragm, thus, deflects by an amount proportional to the control signal
current, to produce a change in the flapper–nozzle gap.
The fully packaged I/P converter (Figure 7.4) comprises the flapper/
nozzle assembly together with a downstream volume booster that acts as a
pilot-operated regulation device.
144  •   The Concise Valve Handbook

Permanent magnet

4 – 20 mA
Spring diaphragm

Exhaust to
Flapper atmosphere
Nozzle Diaphragm
Pilot air
Exhaust to
Control diaphragm

Supply air Control air

Figure 7.4.  Typical configuration of an I/P converter (courtesy


The supply air is applied to the lower chamber of the volume booster
where a certain amount, determined by the position of the control dia-
phragm, flows to the output.
When the flapper moves closer to the nozzle, the dynamic back-­
pressure increases until it corresponds to the input pressure and pushes
both the diaphragm and the control diaphragm downward, causing the
output pressure to increase until a new state of equilibrium is reached in
the diaphragm chambers.
When the output pressure decreases, the diaphragm moves upward,
allowing the output pressure to vent until the forces on the diaphragms are
balanced again.

7.4 Diaphragm Actuators

The diaphragm actuator is the most widely used pneumatic actuator for
proportional control. As shown in Figure 7.5, the variable operating air
is applied to one side of a flexible diaphragm. In this form, the lower
chamber is vented to atmosphere and the operating air, thus, moves the
diaphragm downward, against the force of the ‘ranging’ spring.
It is important, at this point, to consider the effect of air pressure fail-
ure. Since the plug stem needs to move upward to open the valve and
increase the flow, the direct-actuating diaphragm would be closing the
valve against the range spring pressure—and the pressures acting on the
plug of the valve. Thus, in the event of air pressure failure, the valve would
go to a fully open position—fail-open.
Valve Actuators and Positioners   •  145

Travel stop Control air input

Diaphragm Spring


Travel indicator

Figure 7.5.  A direct-acting diaphragm


In many cases, the fail-open mode is highly desirable. There are,

however, also many more cases where a fail-close mode of operation is
required. As shown in Figure 7.6, in the reverse-acting diaphragm actua-
tor, the variable operating air is applied to the lower sealed chamber with
the upper chamber vented to atmosphere. In this case, failure of the air
supply would result in the actuator stem moving downward under the
action of the spring.

7.5 Springless Diaphragm

In the springless diaphragm actuator (Figure 7.7), the control air is applied
differentially to both sides of the diaphragm. This arrangement allows a
much higher actuating force to be applied, for emergency on/off control,
since one side can be bled, and there is no restraining opposition, other
than the valve itself.
The springless diaphragm may also be used for proportional control
with the signal air pressure fed to one side of the diaphragm and a separate
regulated supply fed to the other side.
146  •   The Concise Valve Handbook


Travel stop
air input

Travel indicator

Figure 7.6.  A reverse-acting diaphragm actuator.




Figure 7.7.  Springless diaphragm actuator

uses a differential air input.
Valve Actuators and Positioners   •  147

7.6 Advantages and Disadvantages of

Diaphragm Actuators

The main advantage of the diaphragm-type actuator is its cost since it

is the least expensive method of applying proportional control. In addi-
tion, because it is the most widely used type of actuator, a wide choice of
devices is available to suit virtually any type of valve. Furthermore, by
using a characterized spring, it is possible to obtain rough control by feed-
ing a 0.2 to > 1 bar (3–15 psi) signal directly onto the diaphragm.
Further advantages of the diaphragm actuator are: it is essentially
fail-safe; the speed is adjustable from fast to slow, with reasonably close
control; it is easily adapted for use in explosion proof areas; and it is easy
to maintain.
One of the main problems of the diaphragm actuator becomes
­apparent when high-thrust forces are required, for example, to obtain tight
shut-offs on certain types of valves.
To obtain high thrusts, either the diaphragm area or the control pres-
sure must be increased, both of which place increased restraints on the
casing. Thus, for example, the Samson type 271 pneumatic actuator can
have an effective diaphragm area of up to 2,800 cm2, but with a maximum
pressure of 3 bar to provide a thrust of some 84 kN. Already, however, the
outside diameter of the casing is some 600 mm, a bulky and top-heavy
structure when used with smaller valves.
Other disadvantages include: stiffness is low, and so, precise control
is not always possible; the need for a supply of clean air; and, if required,
hand-wheel overrides are expensive and large.

7.7 Cylinder Actuators

The cylinder or piston-type actuator (Figure 7.8) makes use of a cast cyl-
inder much better able to withstand high pressures than the diaphragm
type (up to 1 MPa) and may be hydraulically or pneumatically operated.
To generate a thrust of 84 kN (as in the previous example), the piston
area must only be 840 cm2—almost half the diameter. Figure 7.9 shows a
size comparison between a diaphragm actuator (left) and cylinder actuator
(right) mounted on two comparable valves.
Although many cylinder actuators are spring-opposed, they are gen-
erally used either in a differential mode or make use of a constant load air
cushion restraint.
148  •   The Concise Valve Handbook




Air Neoprene
cushion boot

Yoke Travel

Figure 7.8.  The cylinder or piston-type


Figure 7.9.  Size comparison between a diaphragm

actuator (left) and cylinder actuator (right) mounted
on two comparable valves (courtesy Valtek

Generally, spring-and-diaphragm actuators contribute less friction to

the control valve assembly than piston actuators, and their frictional char-
acteristics are more uniform with age.
Piston actuator friction will probably increase significantly with use
as guide surfaces and the O-rings wear, lubrication fails, and the elastomer
Valve Actuators and Positioners   •  149

degrades. Thus, to ensure continued good performance, maintenance is

required more often for piston actuators than for spring-and-diaphragm
actuators. If that maintenance is not performed, process variability can
suffer dramatically without the operator’s knowledge.

7.8 Spool Block

In the springless piston-type actuator, in which the air must be applied dif-
ferentially, the pneumatic amplifier often takes the form a spool assembly
(Figure 7.10). Movement of the spindle switches the incoming air supply
to either one or other side of the actuator, while at the same time, simulta-
neously exhausting air from the opposite side. The spindle, which moves
inside the spool block, must be virtually frictionless to ensure that the
spindle will move for small changes in the input signal.

7.9 Electro-Hydraulic Actuation

The increasing acceptance of electronics in the process control industry

has led to the need for direct electronic control of actuators. One such
development is the electro-hydraulic actuator used to control, for exam-
ple, a cylinder actuator. One such operating device, the swing jet, is illus-
trated in Figure 7.11. High-pressure oil flows through a pivoted needle jet,
which may be deflected by coils to one side or the other. In the quiescent

Spool block

Supply top
of actuator
top of

Supply in Supply in Supply in

bottom of
Exhaust actuator
bottom of

Figure 7.10.  Pneumatic spool assembly in which the incoming air is

supplied to either one or other side of the actuator, while at the same time,
simultaneously exhausting air from the opposite side (courtesy Mitech).
150  •   The Concise Valve Handbook

High pressure
oil input



needle jet



Figure 7.11.  Swing jet


state, the high-pressure oil impinges in the center of the pick-up block and
the outlet oil pressure from A and B is equal.
Using electronic control, the jet may be deflected to the left or right
to increase the flow into either of the output pick-ups A or B. Such a dif-
ferential output would, therefore, result in movement of the piston-type
actuator, with position feedback ensuring that the needle is returned to its
central quiescent position when the valve stem reaches its demanded posi-
tion. The main drawback of this design is that, due to the pressure losses
within the swinging jet itself, the full power of the hydraulic pressure is
not realized at the actuator. Although this problem may be overcome by
using a hydraulic servo, this serves to increase the cost further, a cost that
is already higher than pneumatically operated diaphragm actuators.

7.10 Electric Actuation

One of the major disadvantages of the electro-hydraulic-type system is

the need for a constant source of pressure, entailing the constant use of
electric power: the constant running of motor and pumps. This problem is
overcome in the electrical actuator (often referred to as a Motor-operated
Valve Actuators and Positioners   •  151

(MOV)) where an electric motor drives the valve stem through a worm
gear assembly (Figure 7.12). Voltage requirements are generally in the
range 110/230 V AC and 24 V AC or 24 V DC.
One of the fundamental requirements of any actuator/valve combina-
tion is that it should be non-reversing. The motor should drive the valve
and the forces on a butterfly valve, for example, must not feed back and
drive the motor. Traditionally, this non-reversing characteristic has been
accomplished using a simple worm gear system in which a worm drive on
the motor shaft drives a worm gear.
In this arrangement, the wheel cannot drive back through the worm as
long as the worm crosses the wheel at an acute angle (less than 45°). Such
gearing also provides a speed reduction of as much as 100:1—with a cor-
responding increase in torque—providing a reasonably compact solution
for even large valves.
Despite these advantages, electric actuators suffer from a number of
drawbacks that preclude their use in all, but a few applications.
One of the most serious limitations of an electric actuator is the speed
of valve movement, which can be as low as 4 s/mm, and generally rules
out their use for modulating control.
Another serious a drawback is that MOVs generally have a ‘fail-in-
place,’ rather than a ‘failsafe’ action. For this reason, most are equipped
with a mechanically operated hand-wheel that allows the valve to be
manually operated to its open or closed position in the event of power

gear drive


Figure 7.12.  Basic electrically operated

152  •   The Concise Valve Handbook

or mechanical failure. A number of solutions are also offered in which a

spring or battery-backed UPS drives the valve to its open or closed posi-
tion in the event of power failure neither of which is entirely satisfactory.
Apart from being, generally, both cumbersome and expensive,
springs require the electric motor to be up to three times the size otherwise
required, and batteries do not deliver power quickly enough to provide
the rapid shutdown needed on an electric actuator to replicate spring clo-
sure. Another solution lies in the use of electric actuators incorporating
advanced ‘super’ capacitors that can be easily configured to drive a valve
to any position (open, close, or any intermediate position) on loss of power
or control signal.
A further problem with electric actuators is that there are only a few
that are certified for hazardous areas.
Lastly, electric actuators are generally more expensive than their
equivalent pneumatically operated actuators, and their complexity makes
them more difficult to maintain.

7.11 Torque Limiting

The basic role of the actuator is to move the valve to either a mechanically
limited end position or an intermediate position. At the same time, so as
not to overload the valve, the actuator must avoid producing any excess
torque either during the travel or at the end positions. Thus, an important
consideration in the design in any actuator is to ensure that the torque
drive is discontinued when the valve reaches its end limits (fully opened
or fully closed).
Many designs of electrical actuator accomplish this by limit switches.
However, if faced with the possibility of a limit switch failure, precau-
tions must be taken to ensure that, when an end limit is reached and the
torque starts to rise, that it does not increase to a point where the valve is
In order not to overload the valve, the actuator must avoid producing
any excess torque either during the travel or at the end positions.
In one method, the worm drive is free to move longitudinally on a
spline and is held in its central position by means of pre-loaded torque
springs (Figure 7.13). If now, while the drive is running the valve should
reach its end position (or become jammed), then the tangential force on the
driven wheel will rise considerably. This rise in torque displaces the worm
gear axially on its shaft against the pressure of the holding springs. This
movement is detected by means of a lever that operates the torque switch.
Valve Actuators and Positioners   •  153

Splined shaft Worm drive

torque springs

Worm gear

(a) (b)

Figure 7.13.  (a) The worm drive is free to move longitudi-

nally on a spline that is held in its central position by means
of pre-loaded torque springs. (b) If the valve reaches its
end position, the tangential force on the driven wheel rises
and displaces the worm gear axially on its shaft against the
pressure of the holding springs.

7.12 Hammer-Blow Mechanism

Often, rotary valves that are seldom operated become jammed or sticky
and are difficult to open or close. In many cases, this problem may be
overcome by the application of a quick, focused blow (similar to that of
a hammer striking an anvil). One method of applying such a controlled
blow, used by Auma Riester GmbH & Co. is shown in Figure 7.14.
The worm wheel and output shaft are connected via a dog coupling
with backlash. When the direction of rotation is reversed, the backlash first
has to be covered and the motor can run up to its nominal output speed
without load before the valve is unseated (hammer blow).

7.13 Solenoid Valve

The solenoid valve is essentially an on–off control element comprising an

electromagnetically operated plunger (or core) that is attached directly to
the valve stem (Figure 7.15).
Available in normally open or normally closed configurations, sole-
noid valves are widely used for emergency shut-off service or for opening
a valve simultaneously with the operation of, for example, a pump.
154  •   The Concise Valve Handbook

Driven shaft
Driven plate

Drive plate Drive dog

Drive shaft attached to
drive plate

Driven shaft

Driven plate
‘Backlash’ slot
in driven plate

Figure 7.14.  The worm wheel

and output shaft are connected
via a dog coupling with backlash.
When the rotation direction is
reversed, the backlash first has to
be covered, and the motor can run
up to its nominal output speed
without load before the valve is
unseated (hammer blow).

Figure 7.15.  A direct-acting solenoid valve.

When used in safety shut-off applications, the valve is normally held

in its energized position and would open or close to allow air to bleed
from, or be supplied to, the actuator.
Valve Actuators and Positioners   •  155

Spool Common Flow Path when Return Solenoid

de-energized spring

Normally Normally
open closed

Flow Path when


Normally Normally
open closed

Figure 7.16.  A three-way solenoid valve might be used to switch air from
one side of an actuator diaphragm to the other (a) de-energized position
(b) energized position.

Figure 7.17.  P&ID representation of a

three-way solenoid valve (dot indicates nor-
mally open (N.O.) port and a solid indicates
normally closed (N.C.) port.

A three-way solenoid valve (Figures 7.16 and 7.17) might be used to

switch air from one side of an actuator diaphragm to the other.

7.14 Digital Actuators

Digital type actuators are centered around the stepping motor, which is,
essentially, a DC motor in which the output shaft can be made to move
in a series of discrete angular steps. This is achieved through a spe-
cial motor design combined with an electronic drive circuit that applies
156  •   The Concise Valve Handbook

current pulses to a series of windings in a rotating sequence. The actual

methods of construction are many and varied, but the most commonly
available motor is known as ‘four-phase’ and has a basic step angle
of 1.8° (200 steps/r). This is achieved by using a laminated iron rotor
incorporating a permanent magnet that has 50 teeth, which are accu-
rately machined (Figure 7.18). The stator has eight toothed pole pieces,
each with its own winding, and the clearance between stator and rotor is
extremely small.
By means of a Vernier arrangement, the stator windings can be
sequentially energized to produce 200 steps in a revolution. Motors are
also available with other step angles, for example, 32, 48, 100, and 500
steps per revolution.
As an actuator, the stepping motor may be applied in three ways:
direct mechanical drive, stepper motor control of a pneumatic or hydrau-
lic servo valve, or stepping motor hybrid positioner in conjunction with a
piston actuator.
To date, little progress has been made in digital actuators with a suf-
ficiently low price tag, sufficient power, and sufficient speed to capture a
large share of the market.

5-tooth pole


50-tooth rotor

Figure 7.18.  Typical construction of a ‘four-phase’ stepping

motor with a basic step of 1.8°.
Valve Actuators and Positioners   •  157

7.15 Transfer Mechanisms

Most rotary actuators use a linear cylinder in conjunction with a trans-

fer mechanism to translate the linear movement of the piston into rotary
motion of the shaft. Three mechanisms are commonly used:

7.15.1 Rack and Pinion

The rack and pinion transfer mechanism is effectively a car-steering

mechanism in reverse in which (Figure 7.19) a pinion gear is attached to
the drive shaft, the rack is attached to the pistons (most of these designs
use a double-piston arrangement), and the movement of the pistons causes
the shaft to rotate.
While this is a compact and neat arrangement, there are several dis-
advantages: only one tooth is fully engaged; the size is limited; there is no
adjustable end stop in the closed position of spring return units; the unit
comprises a complex multi-spring pack, and therefore maintenance is not
easy; no hand-wheel override is possible; and the mechanism is prone to
wear due to continuous reversals, hence backlash.

Figure 7.19.  Rack

and pinion transfer
mechanism (courtesy
158  •   The Concise Valve Handbook


Pinion driven

(a) Air in

Air out

Pinion driven


Figure 7.20.  Double-piston arrangement (a) air

is supplied forcing the pistons away from each
other and rotating the pinion anticlockwise
(b) air exhaustion (loss of pressure) allows com-
pressed springs to force the pistons toward each
other and rotate the pinion clockwise (courtesy
Spirax Sarco).

The disadvantage of single-gear engagement is overcome in the

double-piston arrangement (Figure 7.20). However, these are even more

7.15.2 Double Crank

Figure 7.21 shows how a rocker plate is attached rigidly to the drive
shaft and an arm connects the piston shaft to the rocker plate. This arm
rotates to take up the lateral movement of the rocker plate pivot joint as
the shaft rotates.
Major advantages are that the run torque (i.e., the torque in a mid-­
position) is higher than the end torque (Figure 7.22).
Valve Actuators and Positioners   •  159

Figure 7.21.  Double crank transfer mechanism

(courtesy Mitech).

Torque (N.m)


10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
Shaft angle (°)

Figure 7.22.  In the double-crank mechanism, the run torque ( the torque
in a mid-position) is higher than the end torque.

This is an advantage for modulating control applications and for

large valves on liquid applications where dynamic torques are signifi-
cant. In addition, backlash is negligible due to the fact that all move-
ment takes place at pivot points in bearings, unlike other designs that
incorporate gears or sliding surfaces. This is an advantage for modulating
control duties.
However, it must be recognized that this is a more expensive design
due to the larger number of components, and that in most applications, the
actuator is sized on the end torque that is produced by the unit. For this
160  •   The Concise Valve Handbook

reason, it is often necessary to use a larger model for the double-crank

design than for the scotch yoke.

7.15.3 Scotch Yoke

With this design (Figure 7.23), a pin is assembled through the piston shaft
and a slot is machined in the rocker arm to take up the relative lateral
movement of the rocker arm and the piston shaft as the arm rotates.
While this design does not appear to differ significantly from the
­double-crank mechanism, the characteristic is surprisingly different.
The reason is that, in the end positions (Figure 7.24), the pin acts like
a wedge in the slot, which in those positions is at approximately 45° to the
piston shaft. Since there can be no force on the rocker arm in the direction
of the slot, the force produced by the piston must be opposed by a force
perpendicular to the slot. The vertical component of the reaction must be
the same as the piston force, and so, the reaction force must equal F/cos
45 when the rocker arm is at 45° to the piston shaft. Note that there must
also be a reaction in the bearings equal to F.
If the horizontal distance between the center line of the piston shaft
and the center line of the drive shaft is M, then the moment arm that the
above force works on is M/cos 45° (Figure 7.25).
Thus, the torque produced at the end position is:
(F/cos 45°) . (M/cos 45°) = 2 FM
This means that, in theory, this type of actua-
tor transfer mechanism produces twice the torque
at the end (Figure 7.26) than it does in the center
The high-end torque characteristic of the
scotch yoke is ideal for on–off duties for ball
and butterfly valves where the greatest torque is
required to seat and unseat the ball or disc. This
usually results in a smaller unit than any of the
other mechanisms. In addition, large actuators of
this design are possible.
A major disadvantage is that the run torques
are low compared with the end torque, and so,
this type of actuator is not suitable for modu-
Figure 7.23.  Scotch
lating control. In addition, more wear can be yoke transfer mech-
expected on the piston shaft bushes due to the anism (courtesy
high side thrusts. Mitech).
Valve Actuators and Positioners   •  161

Piston center
Piston line
F Drive shaft
Pin St center line

F op



o nt

Sl er

45° ot (M

R ax /c

is os

F/cos 45° 45

45° Pivot Pivot
Effective length in
center (M)
Figure 7.24.  Vector diagrams
showing reaction force on the Figure 7.25.  Vector diagrams
rocker arm. showing moment of the reaction

Torque (N.m)


10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
Shaft angle (°)
Figure 7.26.  In the scotch yoke mechanism, the end torques are twice as
high as the run torque (the torque in a mid-position).

7.16 Valve Positioners

In any proportional control system, it is assumed that a given signal out-

put represents a corresponding control action. In the case of an actuator,
a given signal air input should result in a specific opening of the valve.
Thus in the linear range 20–100 kPa, 60 kPa represents a 50% control
action, which should be reflected in the valve moving to a 50% open posi-
tion. However, the valve may not assume its correct position for a number
of reasons. These may include valve stem friction, unbalanced forces on
valve plug, variations in the process fluid pressure, etc.
As shown earlier, I/P transducers generally provide operating pres-
sure in the 20–100 kPa range, and thus 100 kPa is the maximum force
that could be applied to an actuator diaphragm. By contrast, the valve
162  •   The Concise Valve Handbook

positioner acts as a pneumatic relay that is capable of applying the full

force of the supply air (from 550 up to as much as 700 kPa) to drive the
valve, and thus overcome the various forces that prevent the valve from
reaching its correct position.
Figure 7.27 illustrates the basic principle of operation. The signal
control air is fed to the proportioning bellows that creates a signal force
on one end of a pivoted lever: the flapper. The resulting change in the
flapper–nozzle gap will raise or lower the control pressure applied to the
diaphragm of the air relay.
This action positions the pilot valve to either feed or vent the supply
air to the actuator, which moves the valve stem up or down. This action,
in turn, is fed back via the feedback positioner to balance the force at the
opposite end of the flapper lever from the proportioning bellows. Many
devices include a cam that can be used to characterize the system and
compensate for non-linearity in the process and/or final control devices.
It should be noted that, although positioner cams can be used to mod-
ify the characteristic of the final control element, its effect is limited in
most cases. This is because the cams can also dramatically change the
positioner loop gain, which severely limits its dynamic response. However,
while characterizing the valve trim is far more effective, the use of cams
is always better than no characterization at all and is often the only choice
with rotary valves.
Many modern electronic positioners incorporate valve characteri-
zation that electronically shapes the input signal ahead of the positioner

Control input
Proportioning bellows


Flapper Supply


Figure 7.27.  Basic principle of operation of a pneumatic positioner.

Valve Actuators and Positioners   •  163

loop. Such devices use a pre-programmed table of values to produce the

valve input required to achieve the desired valve characteristic. This is
sometimes referred to as ‘forward path’ or ‘set-point characterization.’
Because characterization occurs outside the positioner’s feedback loop, it
avoids the problem of changes in the positioner loop gain.

7.17 Positioner Guidelines

The following have been adapted from a number of guidelines suggested

by John Egnew, of Emerson–Fisher.

7.17.1 All Positioner Types

• Reducing control valve deadband caused by friction

Most control valves without positioners, even those using “low
friction” packing material, may demonstrate a 5% deadband. Dead-
band greater than 1% can produce loop controllability problems.
Use of a positioner can reduce deadband caused by friction to less
than 1%.
• Reducing the effects of frictional stick/slip
Stick/slip occurs when a valve first sticks and then jerks (slips) to a
new position. Frequently, the stick/slip action causes process vari-
ables to overshoot the setpoint. Control action reverses the signal to
the control valve and the stick/slip action is repeated in the opposite
direction. A positioner’s stem feedback can reduce stick/slip effects
and maintain the process variable closer to the setpoint.
• Split ranged control elements
Processes requiring extended flow rangeability may use two con-
trol valves. The first valve operates over the first half of the range.
When the first valve is nearly 100% open, the control action begins
to open the second valve. This is called control valve split ranging.
When split ranging is performed on the pneumatic signal to the
valve actuators, positioners on each valve are used to achieve full
valve travel over the reduced input range. Most applications need
a predictable overlap region in the middle of the signal to avoid a
zone of no control. Positioners provide the accuracy to ensure the
correct overlap exists.
• Increasing the seating force and improving shutoff
A positioner will drive the output pressure to either zero or full
supply pressure whenever the valve reaches a physical travel stop.
164  •   The Concise Valve Handbook

An air-to-close actuator can use the full supply pressure to provide

greater valve seat loading. Completely removing the air signal from
air-to-open actuators allows the full force of the spring to load the
valve seat.
• Double-acting actuators
All double-acting piston actuators must have a positioner
because the pressure on both sides of the piston must be precisely
­controlled. This can only be accomplished with the stem fed back
in a ­positioner.

7.17.2 Digital Positioners

Intelligent digital positioners can extend capabilities and benefits of tradi-

tional analog positioners. Using digital communications, such as HART,
Profibus, and Foundation Fieldbus, digital positioners provide the features
listed earlier, but can also provide the following additional benefits.

• Automatic calibration
Digital positioners can perform remote and automatic zero and
span calibration in a few minutes—a task that can take a few hours
with non-digital positioners.
• Characterization
The output signal can be characterized to match the system to
achieve a linear process with constant gain. The main advantage
over cam linearization is that it is performed on the output signal,
not the feedback from the valve stem.
• Digital noise filtering
While filters should be applied carefully, where appropriate, a dig-
ital filter time constant can be applied to minimize the effects of
excessive process noise. Users should remember filters add to pro-
cess response times. Applying a filter will likely require retuning
the control loop.
• Alarm generation
Users can assign positioner-based alarms, such as valve travel devi-
ation from the input signal, travel beyond a certain point, and oth-
ers. These alarms can be displayed on operator graphics.
• Maintenance-related data
Digital positioners can track valve reversal and total stem travel
data that can be correlated with time and actual maintenance events
to improve predictive maintenance forecasting.
Valve Actuators and Positioners   •  165

• Valve stroke speed control

In applications where hydraulic hammering might occur a digital
positioner can be used to slow the valve stroke.
• Limiting the valve travel
Digital positioners allow the application of travel limits in cases
where a valve should never reach a fully closed position.
• Automation of installed valve performance testing
Digital positioners communicate well with control valve perfor-
mance software. Following a pre-defined test, data curves and
calculated results can be compared with previous tests to help
determine whether a control valve requires maintenance. Being
able to compare control valve performance can save time and
money during planned outages by focusing maintenance activities
on the control valves needing maintenance.
• Less susceptibility to vibration influences
The solid-state electronics in digital positioners provide a device
with few moving parts and help maintain positioner performance in
high-vibration installations.

A Alarm generation, digital

Acoustics positioners, 164
absolute levels, 236 Austenitic stainless steel
decibel, 233–234 300 series, 258–259
intensity, 231 atom rearrangement, 256, 257
logarithmic characteristic of ear, ferro-magnetic material, 257
pitch (frequency), 227–228 B
sound pressure level, 236–237 Balanced safety relief valves
standards, 237–240 bellows-type, 204–206
timbre, 228–229 limitations, 204
velocity, 229–230 piston-type, 206–211
voltage ratios, 235–236 Bellows-type balanced safety
wavelength, 230 relief valves
Actuators back-pressure, 204
bench set, 183–184 bellows failure, 205, 206
cylinder actuator, 147–149 block schematics, 205
diaphragm actuator, 144–147 bonnet vents, 205–206
digital actuators, 155–156 Bench Set, 183–184
electric actuation, 150–152 Block-and-bleed system
electro-hydraulic actuation, capital cost, 241
149–150 double, 241
flapper–nozzle assembly, function, 241
141–142 multi-block valve systems,
hammer-blow mechanism, 153, 241
154 single double block-and-bleed
I/P converter, 142–144 manifold system, 241, 243
pneumatic control, 141 trunnion-mounted ball valves,
solenoid valve, 153–154 243
spool block, 149 Buckling pin safety valve
torque limiting, 152–153 basic, 211, 212
transfer mechanisms, 157–161 buckling point, 213
270  •   Index

Euler’s law of compressed reverse-acting, 145, 146

columns, 212–213 springless, 145, 146
features, 213 Digital actuators
stable conditions, 213 DC motor, 155
Burst disc four-phase stepping motor, 156
advantages, 213–214 stepping motor, 156
applications and installation vernier arrangement, 156
practices, 218–219 Digital noise filtering, digital
configurations, 214–215 positioners, 164
cyclic/pulsating duties, 221–223 Digital positioners, 164–165
holders, 214, 215 Direct-acting diaphragm actuator,
maximum operating pressure, 144, 145
221, 222 Direct-acting solenoid valve, 154,
performance tolerance, 219–221 155
Double-crank transfer mechanism
C advantage, 159
Composite rupture disks, 216–217 modulating control applications,
Conventional domed rupture disc, 159
215, 216 rocker plate movement, 158, 159
Conventional safety relief valves run torque, 158, 159
ASME/ANSI standard, 201 Duplex stainless steels, 260
API 520 Recommended E
Practice Guidelines, 203 Electric actuators
built-up, 201 drawbacks, 151
fluid inlet pressure, 202 non-reversing characteristics,
forces acting on disc, 201 151
spring housing, 202, 203 spring closure, 152
superimposed, 200, 202–203 worm gear assembly, 151
limitations, 200 Electro-hydraulic actuation
spring housing, 201 drawback, 150
Cyclic/pulsating duties, 221–223 electronic control, 150
Cylinder actuator swing jet controller, 149, 150
cast cylinder, 147 Electronic torque monitoring,
vs. diaphragm cylinder, 147, 148 176–177
friction, 148–149
D Ferritic stainless steel, 256
Decibel, 233–234 Flapper–nozzle assembly,
Diaphragm actuator 141–142
advantages, 147 Fundamental frequency, 228
air pressure failure, 144
direct-acting, 144, 145 G
disadvantages, 147 Graphite rupture disc, 217–218
Index   •   271

H burst disc, 213–215

Hammer-blow mechanism, 153, shear-pin safety valve, 211
Harmonics, 228–229 P
High-pressure pilot-operated Pascal (Pa), 184
valve, 208 Passivation, 255
Hysteretic error, 168 Pilot-operated safety relief valve
advantages, 207
I applications, 210
In-line repairs, 180, 182 blockage, 210
Intensity, 231 high-pressure pilot-operated
valve, 208
J inlet pressure, 208
J–T valve limitations, 210–211
construction, 225–226 low-pressure diaphragm-type,
Joule–Thomson effect, 225 209
reverse process, 225 overpressure and blowdown
performance, 210
K piston and seating arrangement,
Kilogram, 184 208, 209
process pressure, 207
L self-actuated auxiliary pressure
Low-pressure diaphragm-type relief valve, 207
pilot-operated valve, 209 Piston actuator. See Cylinder
M Piston-type balanced safety valves
Maintenance-related data, digital back-pressure, 207
positioner, 164 force balancing, 206, 207
Martensitic stainless steel pilot-operated safety relief valve,
corrosion susceptibility, 261 207–210
grade 400 series, 260, 261 Pitch (frequency), 227–228
precipitation-hardening, Positioners
261–262 digital, 164–165
uniform and nonuniform attack, electronic positioners, 162–163
261 feedback positioner, 162
I/P transducers, 161–162
N principle of operation, 162
Newton, 184 proportional control system, 161
Nitrogen-loaded surge relief set-point characterization, 163
valves, 252–253 Precipitation-hardening martensitic
Non-reclosing pressure safety stainless steel, 261–262
relief valves Pressure, 184
buckling pin safety valve, Pressure safety relief valves
211–213 applications, 194
272  •   Index

history, 187–190 Scotch yoke transfer mechanism,

limitations, 194 160–161
non-reclosing, 211–215 Shear-pin safety valve, 211
spring-loaded relief valves, Shop repairs, 182–183
192–194 Signature analysis
weight-loaded valves, 191–192 minimum and maximum friction
Pulsation dampener, 251–252 value, 175
Pulsations, 250 opening and closing lines, 174
packing friction, 175
R revealed faults, 176
Rack and pinion transfer valve packing, 174
mechanism ‘valve signature’ plot, 174
disadvantages, 157 Solenoid valve
double-piston arrangement, 158 direct-acting, 154, 155
Relief valves, 190 shut-off applications, 154
Reverse-acting diaphragm three-way solenoid valve, 155
actuator, 145, 146 Sound pressure level (SPL),
Reverse Joule–Thomson effect, 236–237
225 Spring calculations, 184–186
Springless diaphragm actuator,
S 145, 146
Safety relief valves, 190. See also Springless piston-type actuator,
Pressure safety relief valves 149
balanced, 204 Spring-loaded pressure relief
composite rupture disks, valves
216–217 closed bonnets, 193, 194
conventional, 200–203 closing force, 193
conventional domed rupture disc, elements, 192–193
215, 216 static inlet pressure, 193
graphite rupture disc, 217–218 static pressure, 192
scored tension-loaded rupture Stainless steel
discs, 217, 218 200 series, 259–260
standards, 223–224 300 grade alloys, 258–259
Safety valves austenitic stainless steel,
closing pressure, 195 256–260
curtain area, 196 classification issues, 255–256
discharge area, 196 duplex, 260
flow area, 195, 196 ferritic stainless steel, 256
lifting, 196–198 martensitic, 260–262
reseating, 198–200 passivation, 255
static inlet pressure, 194–195 Stick-slip response, 170
Scored tension-loaded rupture Superimposed back-pressure, 200
discs, 217, 218 Swing jet controller, 149, 150
Index   •   273

T hysteretic error, 168

Threshold of hearing, 237, 238 linear system, 167
Threshold of pain, 237, 238 step changes, 169
Timbre, 228–229 electronic torque monitoring,
Torque limiting, 152–153 176–177
Transfer mechanisms non-linearity, 170–171
double-crank mechanism, online diagnostics
158–160 modern Fieldbus
rack and pinion, 157–158 communication systems,
scotch yoke mechanism, 173
160–161 signature analysis, 174–176
Trunnion-mounted ball valves, 243 stick-slip response, 170
Velocity, 229–230
U Voltage ratios, 235–236
Unbalance of force, 186
V Water hammer
Valve maintenance and repair bulk modulus, 245
actuator bench set, 183–184 effective bulk modulus,
drained system repair, 181 246–247
dynamic environment, 179 magnitude of pressure spike, 248
fluid leakage, 179 nitrogen-loaded surge relief
in-line repairs, 180, 182 valves, 252–253
packing replacement, 181 prevention and mitigation,
repairs under pressure, 180–181 250–251
seat rings replacement, 181–182 pulsation dampener, 251–252
shaft leakage, 179 pulsations, 250
shop repairs, 182–183 quick-closing valve, 245
spring calculations, 184–186 sonic velocities, 245–246
Valve stroke speed control, digital steam condensate, 249–250
positioner, 165 valve size and system condition,
Valve testing and diagnostics 248
complete assembly, 171–173 velocity of pressure wave, 245,
deadband and hysteresis 246
acceptable limits, 170 Wavelength, 230
friction, 168–169 Weight-loaded pressure/vacuum
gear-train system, 167, 168 relief valves, 191–192