Many industries today make use of liquids and gases during production, and this may include the food and beverage industry, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, and more. Many of these industries are quite large, such as for oil and natural gas fossil fuels and beverages and pharmaceutical chemicals. These liquids and gases need to be carefully controlled and regulated in the workplace, and the right hardware such as high pressure valves and pumps can get the job done. Such hardware such as hydraulic gate valves and ball valves may be installed when the factory or refinery is first built, and these high pressure valves and pumps may also be purchased wholesale later on and installed by professionals. And of course, these high pressure valves, pumps, and pipes may need inspection, repair, and replacement every so often if they degrade or suffer damage. What is there to know about high pressure valves and pumps?
One may first consider what all these valves and pumps are dealing with in the first place. Fossil fuels are a fine place to start, such as oil and natural gas. There is an overall movement to slowly phase out fossil fuels for cleaner energy sources, but for the time being, fossil fuels represent a large section of the American energy sector. Plenty of infrastructure exists for these fuels, and today, over 3,000 facilities on the OCS are involved in collecting and treating oil and gas. As of 2017, for a recent example, the United States produced close to 571 million metric tons of oil, and about 734.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas, too. Today, gas and oil account for close to 60% of the United States’ energy, and daily consumption of oil around the world is expected to reach 109 million barrels in 2035, up from 2012’s 89 million barrels.
Meanwhile, the food and beverage industry is quite large in the United States, and refineries are processing water, milk, soft drinks, and much more. And that’s not all; many plants today are processing chemicals of all sorts, from pharmaceuticals all the way to antifreeze for cars to window cleaning fluid. Pumps, valves, and pipes can carry all this.
A factory, refinery, or processing plant will have plenty of hardware to carry these fluids, but their exact design and composition may vary based on the contents. This may range from hardened plastic to steel to specialized alloys. Harmless materials such as water and milk may need only plastic to move them, since they are viscous and don’t have extremes of temperature, corrosive properties, or pressure in most cases. By contrast, stronger materials such as pharmaceutical chemicals or industrial chemicals may be very harmful to ordinary plastic or metal valves or pipes, so metal alloys are used instead. There’s more than one way to make a metal. In fact, engineers have developed specialized alloys whose metal compositions are designed to handle extremes of pressure, temperature, or corrosion. In some cases, steel or plastic pumps or pipes would corrode or burst from pressurized, very hot, or corrosive materials, but these alloys can endure them. This may be the case in a pharmaceutical plant, for example, or for underwater pipes in the ocean. Those pipes can endure constant exposure to salt water without corroding.
Pumps, meanwhile, typically contain turbines designed to force liquids or gases to move in a certain direction, and the pump’s composition and strength will vary based on the expected contents. Thick, sludgy materials call for a stronger pump, and corrosive materials may call for a pump made from the right metal alloy. Harmless materials such as milk or water may need only plastic pumps, which are lightweight and inexpensive to purchase and install in the factory. Such pumps may burn out over time, however, and should be regularly inspected and tested to check their performance. In some cases, a series of pipes may be shut down and emptied so that a pump may be repaired or replaced.
The same is true of valves, which often restrict or widen the passages for gas and liquids. Valves may adjust the pressure of the contents inside, and how much is allowed to pass through at a time, useful for regulating pressure.