The ball valve was invented in the 1950s and is today widely used across many industries including the chemical, petroleum and paper making sectors as well as in water treatment plants.
The virtues of this simple device are numerous but there are also some limitations associated with ball valves.
The ball valve consists of a ball with a hole in the middle which sits inside a passageway. Both fluid and air can pass through the hole. When the ball is turned so that its hole is inline with the pipe, fluid or air passes through. When the hole does not line up with the pipe, the movement of fluid and air cease.
This simple design allows plastic bodied ball valves to withstand temperatures of up to 100ºC and pressures up to 16 bar making them ideal for most industrial applications.
The sturdy and simple design of the ball valve means that it can usually maintain and regulate high pressure, volume and a high flow effectively. The device also generally has a long-service life.
Ball valves are also easy to use and repair. The uncomplicated design allows for quick and easy access to repair seats and seal.
Available in a range of sizes, predominantly from a ½ inch to 4 inches, users will find abundant choice. They also come in different body styles including both 2 and 3 way configurations.
Perhaps the biggest down side with the ball valve is that if you dramatically increase or decrease the flow rate through the pipe system, a linear flow with ball opening cannot be achieved unless the ball is replaced with a linear flow ball, reducing its effectiveness.
Another factor to consider is that ball valves can become fixed in the one position. So it is important that you take into account the type of medium travelling through the pipe to prevent the ball valve from jamming.
If you have had any other experiences with ball valves, please let us know.