Valves, Actuators & Pump Control

Ticona solves tricky situation with ball sector valve

May 2017 Valves, Actuators & Pump Control

When an expensive control valve breaks down after three months only, a remedy is needed badly. But resin producer Ticona had to live with this situation for a considerable time due to its extraordinary production process. Thinking outside the box was the way out. Using an ‘exotic’ ball sector valve not only solved the problem, but also saved money.

The control valve was ready for scrapping after only three months, not some cheap plug valve made from low-quality steel, but rather a valve made from high-quality Hastelloy C. This situation could not be tolerated for long, but the harsh conditions in fibre enforced plastic production at Ticona meant that abrasion and corrosion occurred on the body, tapered seat or plug after only a short time, leading to total failure. Lift valves of the type used until the 1980s could not be considered because of the emissions regulations in ‘TA-Luft’. Thomas Labahn, the person responsible for plant planning and EMC at Ticona, took a look at the problem. This explains why he was very interested in a ball sector valve that he saw during a plant tour of the valve manufacturer Schubert & Salzer. “As soon as they explained the control valve to me, a light went on in my head,” is how Labahn describes his Eureka moment.

Ticona conducted a parallel test of a ball sector valve from Schubert & Salzer and one from another manufacturer. The latter valve lasted precisely three weeks before seizing up. The Schubert & Salzer valve on the other hand, lasted the distance. “The very first attempt was a major success. The valve lasted nearly 10 months, almost three times as long as before,” explains Labahn. The trick: the valve is made from standard material (stainless steel) and only has hard chrome-plated (stellited) ball sector surfaces. This is the reason why it is significantly less expensive than the previous valve made from Hastelloy. Furthermore, the damaged valve can be repaired and even costs a good deal less to buy than does the original plug valve. Considering the numerous control functions in which these valves are used at Ticona, under extremely challenging conditions, the saving potential is quite considerable.

A small actuator is sufficient

After 10 months in operation, only the holder of the seat ring had come loose, and the manufacturer is already working on a solution to this problem with an improved variant. “The media flows through the ball sector element in a totally different way than in the plug valve,” explains Labahn. “In future, completely stellated valves are expected to offer even greater improvements.”

Other important aspects in favour of using ball sector valves are their comparably light weight and relatively low actuator thrusts. The friction against the stuffing box seal in plug valves means they have a very high break-loose torque and this explains why they need powerful actuators. The torque with the ball sector valve, on the other hand, is relatively low and the actuators can be correspondingly smaller.

Furthermore, the valve does not get blocked because the entire pipe cross section is left unobstructed when the ball sector is fully open. The fibre enforced plastics manufacturer is also happy when it comes to the control response: “In our case, the control accuracy that has been achieved is comparable to that of the plug valve we used to use,” concludes Labahn.

Principle of the ball sector valve

The ball sector valve consists of a hemispherical shell – the ball sector – that is held securely in the valve body using two large bearing stems. Part of the hemispherical shell is used for isolating, while the other has a hole with a diameter corresponding to about 80% of the nominal size of the valve. The ball sector is turned through about 90o from fully open to closed. The shape of the opening cross section changes from completely round to elliptical in this case. This practically round shape for the flow opening reduces the risk of blockage when small control settings are made.

For more information contact Rowan Blomquist, Macsteel Fluid Control, +27 (0)11 383 4000,,


Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

ARCA: masters of innovation and variety in control valve solutions
January 2020, Valve & Automation , Valves, Actuators & Pump Control
Dating back to 1918, ARCA Regler has earned global recognition for specialising in control valves, manufactured and marketed around the world primarily for the chemical, food, power, petrochemical, steel, pharmaceutical and oil and natural gas industries.

Control valves with positioner suitable for gas and burner installations
January 2020, Macsteel Fluid Control , Valves, Actuators & Pump Control
Sliding gate valves are true all-rounders in the valve technology field and can be used for high-precision control purposes in the fields of natural gas applications, combustion and firing installations, ...

Process to instrument valves
November 2019, Parker Hannifin Sales Company South , Valves, Actuators & Pump Control
Parker highlights the leak elimination benefits of close-coupled instrumentation.

Schubert & Salzer controls paper grammage precisely
October 2019, Macsteel Fluid Control , Valves, Actuators & Pump Control
The Grünewald paper company, headquartered in Austria, recently modernised its process control to improve profitability. Thanks to a new control system and a grammage-weight control valve, the company’s ...

Valve technology for tyre presses
September 2019, Macsteel Fluid Control , Valves, Actuators & Pump Control
Production plants for tyres place extremely high demands on valves. Tyre curing presses work at high pressures of steam, water, and nitrogen, as well as at high temperatures. In addition, the very short ...

Stafsjö valves protect installations
September 2019, Valve & Automation , Valves, Actuators & Pump Control
When it comes to industrial fire protection systems, reliability is essential. The system, which is often on constant standby for long periods, should be able to respond immediately and extinguish possible ...

Innovation embedded in Metso’s DNA
August 2019, Metso South Africa , Valves, Actuators & Pump Control
Apart from the role in technology development, digitalisation is one of Metso’s key enablers to serve its customers better.

Valves for molten sulphur or sulphur tail gas applications
August 2019, Valve & Automation , Valves, Actuators & Pump Control
Design engineers at Zwick have solved the ongoing problems experienced with valves on sulphur units. Typical valve problems on large bore line sizes range from seizing of the packing to severe seat damage ...

ARCA anti-surge control valves in operation
August 2019, Valve & Automation , Valves, Actuators & Pump Control
Arca supplies its extensive range of valves to nearly all types of industries, but an important part of the product range are valves for turbines and turbo compressors, especially anti-surge control valves. ...

Biffi Italia electric actuator launched
August 2019, Emerson Automation Solutions , Valves, Actuators & Pump Control
Biffi Italia, a leading manufacturer of high-performance and reliable valve actuation systems, has introduced the new Icon3000 electric actuator: a smart, powerful multi-turn actuator that offers improved ...