What is a Ball Valve ?

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A ball valve is a rotational motion valve that uses a ball-shaped disk to stop or start fluid flow. The ball, shown in Figure 12, performs the same function as the disk in the globe valve. When the valve handle is turned to open the valve, the ball rotates to a point where the hole through the ball is in line with the valve body inlet and outlet. When the valve is shut, the ball is rotated so that the hole is perpendicular to the flow openings of the valve body and the flow is stopped.

Most ball valve actuators are of the quick-acting type, which require a 90° turn of the valve handle to operate the valve. Other ball valve actuators are planetary gear-operated. This type of gearing allows the use of a relatively small handwheel and operating force to operate a fairly large valve.

Some ball valves have been developed with a spherical surface coated plug that is off to one side in the open position and rotates into the flow passage until it blocks the flowpath completely. Seating is accomplished by the eccentric movement of the plug. The valve requires no lubrication and can be used for throttling service.

Ball Valve Parts

Ball Valve Positions : Open to Close

Ball Valve Operation

Figure 12 Typical Ball Valve

Advantages

A ball valve is generally the least expensive of any valve configuration and has low maintenance costs. In addition to quick, quarter turn on-off operation, ball valves are compact, require no lubrication, and give tight sealing with low torque.

Disadvantages

Conventional ball valves have relatively poor throttling characteristics. In a throttling position, the partially exposed seat rapidly erodes because of the impingement of high velocity flow.

Port Patterns

Ball valves are available in the venturi, reduced, and full port pattern. The full port pattern has a ball with a bore equal to the inside diameter of the pipe.

Valve Materials

Balls are usually metallic in metallic bodies with trim (seats) produced from elastomeric (elastic materials resembling rubber) materials. Plastic construction is also available.

The resilient seats for ball valves are made from various elastomeric material. The most common seat materials are teflon (TFE), filled TFE, Nylon, Buna-N, Neoprene, and combinations of these materials. Because of the elastomeric materials, these valves cannot be used at elevated temperatures. Care must be used in the selection of the seat material to ensure that it is compatible with the materials being handled by the valve.

Ball Valve Stem Design

The stem in a ball valve is not fastened to the ball. It normally has a rectangular portion at the ball end which fits into a slot cut into the ball. The enlargement permits rotation of the ball as the stem is turned.

Ball Valve Bonnet Design

A bonnet cap fastens to the body, which holds the stem assembly and ball in place. Adjustment of the bonnet cap permits compression of the packing, which supplies the stem seal. Packing for ball valve stems is usually in the configuration of die-formed packing rings normally of TFE, TFE-filled, or TFE-impregnated material. Some ball valve stems are sealed by means of O-rings rather than packing.

Ball Valve Position

Some ball valves are equipped with stops that permit only 90° rotation. Others do not have stops and may be rotated 360°. With or without stops, a 90° rotation is all that is required for closing or opening a ball valve.

The handle indicates valve ball position. When the handle lies along the axis of the valve, the valve is open. When the handle lies 90° across the axis of the valve, the valve is closed. Some ball valve stems have a groove cut in the top face of the stem that shows the flowpath through the ball. Observation of the groove position indicates the position of the port through the ball. This feature is particularly advantageous on multiport ball valves.

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