The Foothills Industrial Products Blog

Pressure Regulators Vs. Control Valves - Best for Pressure Control?

Posted by Melanie Takacs on Jun 20, 2017 2:38:47 PM

It was a typical week so far in the reg shop, and business had been steady so far for spring. Steve, the Regional Engineer, was in town and was set to arrive momentarily to get Rob’s advice with next year’s station designs. Rob was recently promoted to Operations Manager but he didn’t quite feel like he had enough experience yet, and was a bit uneasy about his new position. Steve on the other hand, was a seasoned P. Eng, known for making great recommendations that have successfully improved efficiency. Rob was looking forward to working with him for the first time and was hopeful for some great ideas for future improvements.

 

“Hi, Steve. It’s a pleasure to meet you, I’ve heard a lot of great things about you”, Rob mentioned as he shook his hand.

 

“Nice meeting you as well. Hopefully I can help streamline things around here for you and your team.”

 

“I’ll take you on a quick tour of the shop, follow me” Rob exclaimed. The two of them made their way around the building, stopping along the way to introduce Steve to several staff members.

 

The last stop on the tour was the test-bench room, and even before they opened the door it was obvious that it was going to be incredibly noisy inside. Once the door opened the noise increased dramatically and instantly Steve knew the reason: there was a what appeared to be a 6” control valve mounted on one of the test rigs, and it was absolutely howling!

 

“Yikes! That’s a loud one hey?” a slightly irritated Steve shouted over the din.

 

“Yeah, we’ve got a bunch of these out in the field, and my predecessor mentioned before he left that this particular model of control valve is pretty old and we might have to replace it soon” yelled Rob. “I’m keen to do that as well, so we’re collecting data on how loud these babies are in an effort to bolster our case for replacing them with some newer control valves!

 

By then, Steve had his fill of the noise and he gestured for Rob to join him back outside of the test room.

 

“So…” Steve began “your predecessor was using control valves at gate stations? Even for that small of a line size?”

 

“Yeah” replied Rob, “I guess he liked the fact that you can remotely modify the setpoint on a control valve, which is something you can’t do with a regulator… right?” He looked at Steve for confirmation, and was surprised when a smile started to break out on Steve’s lips. ”

 

“Well… in the past that was certainly the case” explained Steve, “But now there are some amazing technologies out there that allow you to do just that!”

 

“Really? I had no idea! And they will work just as well as a control valve?” Rob questioned.

 lightbulb new.jpg

 

 

“In my experience, I find it more accurate, more efficient, cost effective, as well it will certainly help to minimize the noise level” Steve gestured back at the test-room. .

 

“Wow that’s great to know! So, I’m guessing you’re already planning to try and implement some of these in your projects for next year?”

 

Steve didn’t even have to say a word, the smile on his face and a knowing wink was all the response Rob needed!

 

~Fast Forward~ 2 Years Later

In any applications with line sizes 12” and smaller, all control valves that were previously used have since been replaced by regulators about a year ago. As well, all new sites have also been utilizing PF (pressure) regulators to control gas pressure. Once again, Steve has just stopped by for his annual review of site design and efficiency. “How have you found the regulators have been performing in comparison to the control valves?” he questioned.    

                       

“They have been phenomenal, and really have made an amazing difference! Just as you said they are more accurate, easy to use and maintain, vent less gas, AND have certainly helped with the noise level. We’ve barely had to touch any of the new installations after over a year in service so we’re pretty happy with that!” Rob exclaimed.

 

“That’s great to hear. Glad it made a difference to your operations here. Now…didn’t you said you were having issues with odorization??  

 

*Stay tuned, to be continued…

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Technical Information

 reflux 819 accuracy.pngThe above flow curve illustrates the incredible accuracy of the Reflux 819 Pilot Controlled Regulator

 

 

response time.png

The above graph illustrates the superior response time of a pilot controlled regulator when compared to a control valve under the same conditions

 

system self-feeding.pngsystem depending.png

Another reason to choose a pilot controlled regulator over a control valve is its operational reliability; which stems from its simplicity. The regulator's easy-to-maintain pilot circuit is self-powered using the inherent energy in the upstream inlet gas whereas the positioner of the control valve depends on an external electrical/pneumatic signal for actuation.

 

 

Why Using a Pressure Regulator Allows For More Bang For Your Buck

A Regulator- Utilizes a self-operating system due to the pressure of gas. Using this technique to control gas flow has many benefits compared to alternatives, some of which include:

  1. Specifically designed to control pressure
  2. More accurate
  3. Cost effective option
  4. Lower noise pollution
  5. High flow coefficient
  6. Easy installation and commissioning
  7. Faster maintenance and shorter downtime
  8. Quick reaction time
  9. Bubble tightness
  10. Higher efficiency due to reliability
  11. Possible inbuilt safeties
  12. Vents less gas

 

 

Why a Control Valve Provides Less Bang

 Continuous discharge of gas into atmosphere (explosive area can cause environmental damage)

  1. Higher cost
  2. Auxiliary system (electric/pneumatic) required
  3. More complex unit, with more opportunities for failure or inconvenience
  4. Skilled user is needed to manage properly
  5. Accuracy depends on % of opening
  6. Low reaction time
  7. Higher noise pollution

 

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Topics: Natural Gas Industry, Calgary, Alberta, Pietro Fiorentini, Western Canada, Alberta, pressure regulators, control valves, pilot operated regulator, pressure control, PF regulator, pressure regulator

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