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Control Valve Erosion Problems

A problem common to control valves used in slurry service (where the process fluid is a liquid containing a substantial quantity of hard, solid particles) is erosion, where the valve trim and body are worn by the passage of solid particles. Erosion produces some of the most striking examples of valve damage, as shown by the following photographs:

Control Valve Erosion

Control Valve Erosion Problems

Here we see large holes worn in a globe valve plug, and substantial damage done to the seat as well. The process service in this case was water with “coke fines” (small particles of coke, a solid petroleum product). Even ceramic valve seat components are not immune to damage from slurry service, as revealed by this photograph of a valve seat with a notch worn by slurry flow:

valve seat with a notch worn

There really is no good way to reduce the effects of erosion damage from slurry flows, other than to use exceptionally hard valve trim materials. Even then, the control valve must be considered a fast-wearing component (along with pumps and any other components in harm’s way of the slurry flowstream), rebuilt or replaced at regular intervals.

Another cause of erosion in control valves is wet steam, where steam contains droplets of liquid water propelled at high velocity by the steam flow. A dramatic example of wet steam damage appears in this next photograph, where the cage from a Fisher valve has been literally cut in half from the flow:

cause of erosion in control valves is wet steam

Steam may also “cut” other parts of a valve if allowed to leak past. Here, we see a valve bonnet with considerable damage caused by steam leaking past the outside of the packing, between the packing rings and the bonnet’s bore:

valve bonnet damage

Any fluid with sufficient velocity may cause extensive damage to valve components. Small holes developing in the body of a valve may become large holes over time, as fluid rushes through the hole. The initial cause of the hole may be a manufacturing defect (such as porosity in the metal casting) or damage inflicted by the user (e.g. a crack in the valve body caused by some traumatic event). An example of such a hole in a valve body becoming worse over time appears in this next photograph, taken of a control valve removed after 40 years of continuous service:

hole in a valve body

A close-up photograph of this same hole shows the leak path worn larger by passing fluid, allowing fluid to flow by the seat even with the valve in the fully-closed position:

Holes in Control Valve Body

In more severe process services, such holes rapidly grow in size. This next photograph shows a rather extreme example of a hole near the seat of a valve body, enlarged to the point where the valve is hardly capable of restricting fluid flow at all because the hole provides a bypass route for flow around the valve plug and seat:

valve plug and seat damage

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