Butterfly Valve Actuators: Types and Functionality

A butterfly valve is typically used for flow regulation in piping systems. In several industrial facilities, butterfly valves are equipped with actuators. An actuator is specialized mechanical device mainly used to start and stop valve systems, thus creating greater control of the gas or liquid flow. When butterfly valve actuators receive energy, they convert it to produce certain motions. Aside from aiding the butterfly valve in regulating gas or liquid flow through a disk, actuators are also proven to be more cost effective than human operation.

Butterfly valve actuators fall into particular classifications depending on their type of movement and the source of power needed to perform their expected tasks. In terms of movement, actuators for butterfly valves can be linear, quarter-turn and multi-turn. Simple actuators are controlled mechanically through the use of manual handle, pulleys and gears. The more automated types of actuators can fall in one of the four main categories, which are hydraulic, pneumatic, electric and electro-hydraulic. All of these actuator types are found in various technical plants and facilities such as power plants, waste water treatment facilities and refineries. These industrial settings require automated process control because they carry out large scale operations.

Hydraulic actuators for butterfly valves are composed of pressurized cylinder or fluid motor that converts hydraulic fluid energy to generate mechanical motion. Hydraulic actuators can take a longer time to gain speed and power to slow back down. Pneumatic actuators utilize energy made by compressed air at high pressure to produce linear or rotary motion. Electrical butterfly valve actuators as the name suggests, transform electrical energy into mechanical torque. The electrical form of actuator is the cleanest and easiest to set up because it does not require oil. Electrical energy is also well suited for actuate equipment like gate and globe valves because these devices execute multiple turns.

Hydraulic and pneumatic actuators are designed with few mechanical parts. Electrical actuators, on the other hand, are more elaborate in design. In most cases, they require a battery backup to secure a safe and efficient operation. The electro-hydraulic butterfly actuator is another major actuator classification that requires a combination of hydraulic and electric power to perform its intended functions. Actuators for butterfly valves can have different designs depending on which company manufactures them. Some of the actuated butterfly valves are compact and have a rotary stem that can move to up to 90 degrees. In terms of selecting butterfly valve actuators, businesses must not only consider quality but also the speed and power generated by an actuator. Other qualities that are integral in the effectiveness of actuators include load support, control and force levels, and duty cycle.

Top manufacturers of butterfly valve actuators can supply clients with assembled valve systems that have undergone rigorous testing. The valves and corresponding actuators can also be designed in certain ways to meet specific purposes. For example, actuators are usually enclosed in a special housing for some underground applications. The best actuators for butterfly valves are the ones that meet high safety integrity level. They are made of very tough and resilient materials to survive corrosion and other major damaging incidence such as explosion.