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Inherently Leak-Free Valve Actuator Technology

Rather than be punished for fugitive emissions, why not eliminate them all together?

Petro-Chemical fugitive emission standards are tightening, often punishing emissions violators with escalating fines, public embarrassment and mandates for costly environmental impact studies. Firms facing this difficult reality should give serious consideration to the inherently Leak-Free valve actuator technology which Bighorn Valve has developed. Imagine a trustworthy valve or valve actuator that completely eliminates fugitive emissions - Bighorn Valve has it. This is game-changing, breakthrough technology.

Big Horn Valve, Inc. has devoted all of its time and resources for that one purpose of developing "Inherently Leak Free" valve and valve actuator technology that allows new and existing valves to be actuated without the leakage that is associated with valve stem packings and seals.

The term "inherently leak-free" refers to the fact that no dynamic seals in the valves or actuators are exposed to the outside environment. There still are static seals in these valves that keep the fluid from being released to the outside environment; however, the number of these seals is kept to a minimum. After much iteration, countless patents and rigorous testing, Big Horn Valve has introduced magnetically-actuated inherently leak-free technology.

Magnetically driven pumps have been around for several decades. Most of these can also be considered "inherently leak free" because the dynamic seals in these pumps have been replaced by magnetic couplings. These couplings transfer the torque magnetically from the motor to the pump impeller. Without the penetration into the fluid chamber by a drive shaft and the associated leakage, these pumps do not require the use of a dynamic seal to keep the fluid inside the pump from escaping to the outside environment.

The question is, "If magnetically driven pumps have been around for some time; preventing the leakage of hazardous fluids and chemicals, why haven't valves seen the same breakthrough?"

The answer is because the torque requirements of valves are much higher than that of pumps of the same pipe diameter. This is particularly true regarding torque encountered when first opening a valve and the high torque encountered just before the valve is completely closed. The Achilles' heel of magnetic couplings has been that they can only transmit a limited amount of torque before slippage occurs inside the coupling. Even with magnetic pumps, care must be taken that the torque required to operate the pump does not exceed the torque limitations of the magnetic coupling that was designed for the pump. Otherwise slippage can occur within a magnetically driven pump as well.

Big Horn Valve, Inc. has solved this problem by developing a number of different valve designs and operators that provide for downstream torque reduction. In these designs, the torque reduction takes place after the torque has been transmitted through the magnetic coupling. The result is that a much smaller magnetic coupling can now do a very big job; successfully opening and closing a quarter turn valve, even valves that have very high torque requirements. In fact, it is now possible to provide turning torque to a valve that is equal to the torque provided by traditional valve stems.

This breakthrough makes it possible to finally introduce magnetically operated valves to the marketplace in fields like oil and gas, hazardous materials and cryogenics.

High-Pressure Cryogenic Valve Technology
One proven application is in the aerospace industry. Tasked by NASA to apply this technology to one of their most difficult challenges, high-pressure cryogenic helium, Big Horn Valve developed a valve proving it was possible thanks to NASA testing and grants. The application has the potential to save hundreds of pounds for every instillation could save millions of dollars per launch. This breakthrough now opens up the possibilities for many private aerospace companies striving for lightweight aircraft.

In cold applications where stem packings have to be positioned outside the cryogenic environment, it is now possible to eliminate the packing entirely. This inherently leak free actuator can function right along with the valve itself, negating the need for long stems. The problem with packings in cryogenics is that the long stems that isolate the packing from the cryogen can be a burden in tight applications. Packings that are designed for cryogenic performance are notorious for their friction loads on the valve stem; not to mention their propensity to leak when chilled down.

More recently, Big Horn Valve, Inc. has developed a number of technologies for retrofit actuation of existing valves. End-users typically find valves that they are happy with for particular applications. Rather than replacing the entire valve in order to achieve "inherently leak free"operation, BHV proposes a number of actuator designs that encapsulate the dynamic seal (packing) on a valve, thus creating "inherently leak free"operation for any given valve. Leakage from the stem packing is contained within the actuator.

In the case of valves that are handling very corrosive or poisonous fluids, a fluid management system can be employed within the actuator. An actuator with this modification would contain a non-corrosive, lubricative fluid at a slightly higher pressure than the upstream fluid pressure to the valve itself. That way, any leakage occurring between the valve actuator and the valve through the stem packing would be leakage into the fluid path; not into the actuator chamber itself.

In other corrosive applications, the same materials that allow the valve to handle a given fluid can also be used in the actuator, should the corrosive fluid enter the actuation chamber.

Protect the Environment - Eliminate Fugitive Emissions
This proven technology lays the groundwork for some exciting new possibilities and enhancements. Rather than monitor fugitive emissions, why not eliminate them all together? In a world where stem and packing maintenance have historically been the primary solutions to reduce fugitive emissions, Big Horn Valve introduces magnetic technology with zero dynamic seals to the outside world. This paradigm shift in technology provides a breakthrough solution which addresses the critical concerns regarding environmental damage, fugitive emissions, increasing regulatory fines, production downtime and loss of valuable product across multiple industries.


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Inherently Leak Free Valve Actuators