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Steam Stop Valve

1. Introduction

2. Valve constructions

3. Steam and the demands it makes on valves

4. Design solutions

4.1. Seat/plug area

4.2. Stem guide
4.3. Connections

5. Valve executions

5.1. Stop valves

5.2. Control valves
5.3. Pressure reducers
5.4. Safety valves
5.5. Steam traps
5.6. Strainers/water separators
5.7. Distributors/collectors
5.8. Other valves

6. Selection and sizing

6.1. Finding the right type

6.2. Defining sizes
6.3. Important information for correct product selection

7. Installation, operation and maintenance

1. Introduction

Because steam has good heat transfer properties, installations that use steam as the
energy carrier are widespread in power stations, plant manufacturing, the chemical
and petrochemical industries and the manufacturing industry. In addition to the main
components such as boilers, heat exchangers and pipes, the valves for isolation,
control, safety and steam trapping the medium are also highly important. Some, such
as regulating valves and steam traps are indispensable for standard service, others,
such as safety valves, are only needed in an emergency. Stop valves, for example,
are needed for manual operation, compensation procedures, inspections and
maintenance work. As well as high temperatures, the steam medium puts specific
demands on the valves, as in a later physical state, it is almost always found
simultaneously as condensate and as liquid.

2. Valve constructions

There are various styles of valve that can actively affect flow and the one described
here is based on the valve principle. Figure 1 shows this in diagrammatic form. A
movable closing component, developed as a plug or a disc, is mounted in a housing.
This prevents the medium applied to the inlet from exiting. Intermediate positions
lead to throttling or control, thus affecting the flow. The plug can be operated
manually, via actuators driven by a separate power supply or by the medium itself. A
great variety of valve styles are derived from this basic type and these are described

3. Steam and the demands it makes on valves

In vapour facilities, steam almost always exists simultaneously in two physical states,
"gaseous" and "liquid", as the maximum insulating strength of all installation
components is limited and condensate constantly forms on the cooler inner walls of
the components and the pipes. When hot steam meets greater collections of
condensate, there is sudden evaporation. The changes in volume associated with
this sometimes cause violent water hammers and thus powerful pressure surges that
can far exceed the operating pressure. Water hammers also occur if vapour bubbles
are absorbed in the condensate, which is cooler in comparison with the vapour, so
that condensation causes the bubbles to implode all of a sudden. With valves, there
is then the risk of interior damage or even total operational failure, seals can
malfunction and in the worst-case scenario, rupture the valve body.

Another pressure situation that puts great stress on the valves is evaporation of the
boiling hot condensate. If this is diverted from the vapour system and the pressure
reduces, the severity of evaporation increases, the greater the pressure difference
and the higher the temperature of the incoming condensate. As this drop in pressure
chiefly takes place in the narrowest cross-section of the valves, the stress is also at
the maximum there. The risk of washout and material abrasion is then apparent if the
components are not designed accordingly.

The condensate is not pure water. If the boiler water is not adequately conditioned,
this may result in residual acids, salts and bases. If air and therefore oxygen gets into
the vapour facility, for example, when it is not being used, there are highly aggressive
chemical reactions with the ferrous products of the installation components, such as
the pipes and the valves. The associated material abrasion of all the installation
component surfaces that come into contact with the media causes particles of rust to
form that then pollute the entire installation. Larger particles are carried along in the
media flow and cause wear on the valve guides and seals. At points where the flow is
diverted, there is erosion and washout. The finer particles turn into corrosion sludge
that builds up and leads to blockages in the finer channels and gauging holes.

4. Design solutions

4.1. Seat/plug area

The plug (or disc) as the closing element, stops the medium applied to the inlet
(steam/condensate) from getting to the outlet, by pressing on the seat. As well as this
"main task", in many cases the plug/seat unit also has a second important function to
fulfil, that of throttling the flow. Whereas during isolation, the requirements are mainly
concentrated on a permanently good seal, during throttling, the stability of the plug
movement and the flow characteristic come to the fore. The seat/plug area is also
exposed to the greatest stresses in the valve, as this is where the flow is at its fastest
because of the minute cross-section of the flow. The associated flow forces working
on the plug must be safely intercepted. The saturated steam still mostly contains
condensation droplets or these reform on the cooler walls and at these high flow
rates, lead to erosion. Plugs and seats damaged in this way then cannot close tightly,
with dirt accumulation and deposits also working to the greatest detriment with regard
to leakage.
In vapour facilities, because of the high temperatures, the most commonly found type
of valves are those with a metallic plug/seat seal in the "flat seat" (Figure 2) and
"marginal seat" (Figure 3) types.

Figure 2: Flat seat Figure 3: Marginal seat

Flat seats are used to isolate and are less suitable for regulating and throttling
functions, as when there is little change in the travel, the flow increases very rapidly
shortly after the valve starts to open. If valves with flat seats are operated rarely,
deposits and encrustations can lead to the valve no longer being able to close tightly.
The minimum width of the seat with the plane-parallel bearing makes it more difficult
for this accumulation of dirt to be removed, even if great force is applied. The
associated risk of pressure point formation and thus damage to the facings means
that it is no longer possible for the valve to close without leakage.

Marginal seats with their conical seating are better for flow and more suitable for
throttling and regulating functions. Dirt accumulation in the area of the seal, which
occurs after longer periods of operation with few or even no closing actions
(encrustation/deposits), can be removed so well with this type of seating that a
leakproof closure is obtained.

The valve seat shown in Figure 4 has been in use over a long period of time and the
deposits on the seat are clear to see. The narrow sealing edge of the marginal seat is
easily recognised as the light line.

Figure 4: Marginal valve seat with deposits

To further increase the service life, it is usual to harden the plug, as this receives the
greatest exposure to the particles carried along by the flow. This is further improved
by armouring or stelliting the seat and the plug. This procedure is frequently used in
the regulating valve area.

4.2. Stem guide

The second important function of the valves, ensuring that there is a leakproof seal
keeping the medium in, is given by the body components, the seals and the stem
guide. Here the latter makes the most stringent demands on the design and
construction of the valves. The body and the accompanying seals are static
components, movement does not occur at the seals. The stem guide, on the other
hand is subjected to dynamic stresses caused by the movement of the stem, which
can be axial, radial or a combination of the two. Manual stop valves are usually not
operated very often, regulating valves, on the other hand are used anything from
frequently to constantly.

As far as the stem seal is concerned, there are three different designs for use in
steam and condensate applications:

- gland packing
- V-ring unit
- stainless steel bellow seal

Gland packing, the oldest type of seal for valve stems is shown in Figure 5. The
packing material made of pure graphite is pretensioned using packing fixtures and
distributes the resultant pressure on all sides, thus sealing the gap between the stem
and the upper part of the body (the bonnet) towards the outside world. Leakages
caused by the easing of the packing pressure can be combated by retightening,
which automatically involves a certain amount of maintenance expenditure. If there is
too much pretensioning, this can also cause a great deal of friction at the stem, which
inhibits its movement. If these forces become too great, it is no longer possible to
operate a manual valve or the function of the regulating valves is restricted.
Figure 5: Figure 6:

Gland packing V-ring unit stem seal

The V-ring stem seal shown in Figure 6, provides an improvement with regard to
maintenance, as the PTFE V-ring units are permanently pretensioned by means of
springs, thus ensuring a constant seal. The frictional forces are also defined by this
and are not dependent on the manual force applied by the particular fitter. One
disadvantage is the limited temperature of max. 220C. This is why it is necessary to
know the operating parameters exactly and application is restricted mainly to the
control valve sector.

The bellow seal shown in Figure 7 provides a permanently leakproof and

maintenance-free stem seal, even at high temperatures. The material most
commonly used for the bellow seal is austenitic stainless steel 1.4541 or 1.4571,
which also shows adequate corrosion resistance even with an aggressive
condensate. The sealing does not cause any additional frictional forces and when
used in manually operated or power-operated valves, the rigidity of the spring-
constant makes the forces negligible. With valves that work automatically, without
auxiliary power, such as pressure reducers and safety valves, rigidity is already taken
into account in the design and remains constant throughout the life of the valve.
Depending on its design, the bellow seal simultaneously protects the stem guide from
the medium and prevents wear from dirt particles.

Figure 7: Bellow stem seal Figure 8: Flange connection

4.3. Connections

The valve is connected to the pipe in the steam and condensate area by means of a
flange or it is directly welded on. The valve connections must be developed
accordingly, Figure 8 shows the flange connection and Figure 9 the welded end.

Flange connections have the advantage of being easier to dismantle when it is

necessary to replace a valve. The weak point is the seal, which may fail, as a result
of changes in temperature, for example. The sudden blowing of a seal also
represents an increased risk potential thanks to the high temperatures present in the
steam and condensate. This problem does not occur if the valve is welded directly to
the pipe and this is also a more cost-effective solution, as it does away with

Figure 9: Welded end Figure 10: Shoed end

the need for two welded flanges including fitting for each valve, with the need to
create weld seams in both cases. But should this need to be removed, higher
expenditure is involved. As the material of the valve is normally different to that of the
pipe, welding the valve to the pipe puts greater demands on execution (welding
technique, post-treatment, such as annealing, etc.). For this reason, valves are
available with shoed ends in the material of the pipe (Figure 10). Thus the highly
demanding (different materials) welding operation is moved from the building site to
the valve factory. On site at the plant, the same materials are welded together and
expenditure is sometimes far less.

5. Valve executions

5.1. Stop valves

Should flows of steam and condensate need to be isolated, the "ARI-FABA fr

Energien" type (Figure 11) is particularly suitable, thanks to the combination of
Hand wheel



Gland packing

Bellows seal

Inlet Outlet


Figure 11: Stop valve

"ARI-FABA fr Energien" [1]
special design solutions. Depending on the nominal diameter, the body of the valve
can also be made of the ductile materials spheroidal graphite iron GGG 40.3 or cast
steel 1.0619+N (>DN 50). The plug sealing to the edge of the seat is made by a
marginal seat, with the plug being hardened to improve the resistance to wear. The
stem guide is double-sealed, once by a stainless steel bellow seal that
simultaneously protects the guide from dirt and secondly, through a secondary
sealing gland packing, which, should the bellow seal become damaged, takes over
the sealing function for the transitional period until the valve is replaced. The
enclosure of the threaded stem in the handwheel area stops dirt getting onto the
thread, which would make it run sluggishly. On the other hand, a bare, greased
thread would greatly consolidate the local dirt and there is usually no cleaning before
the next operation. With this design, the handwheel is also "non-rising" and thus,
even at different settings, always remains at the same height relative to the valve
body. The extra-fine thread stem produces a better force ratio with the advantages of
being smooth running and having greater plug pressure acting on the seat.

5.2. Control valves

Vapour facilities are seldom only operated at full load, usually it must be possible to
set all the operating states between 0 and 100% for the individual areas of the entire
installation independently of one another at any time. This is achieved by throttling
the vapour flow by means of control valves. Figure 12 shows the valve that is
particularly suited to this task, the "ARI-STEVI 470" valve, that is




Stem guide

V-ring unit

Mounting bonnet




Intlet Outlet

Figure 12:
Control valve "ARI-STEVI 470" [1]
operated by an electric actuator. The marginal seat plug has a parabolic contour,
which makes it possible to regulate even the smallest flow rates precisely and
accurately. The seat is screwed and because of the vast number of different
diameters, as well as the usual nominal diameter selection, there is also a fine
graduation in the flow output and thus the option of accurate sizing. The plug stem
guide allows precise regulation and the hardened bush makes this execution
particularly resistant to wear. The valve shown has a V-ring unit seal for the stem
guide. If the temperature of the medium is higher than the permitted level, an
execution with a stainless steel bellow seal is also available. Further details are given
in [1].

5.3. Pressure reducers

In contrast to control valves, pressure reducers operate without auxiliary power and
are driven solely by the medium. Their function is reducing a high pressure (upstream
pressure) to a lower pressure (downstream pressure). At the same time, the
downstream pressure is automatically kept constant during changes in the flow rate
or fluctuations of the admission pressure. A pressure reducer of the "ARI-PREDU "
type, as shown in Figure 13, is particularly suited to meet the demands of the steam
medium. A marginal seat is screwed into the transitional body. The plug has a small
parabolic lug, that keeps the regulating process safe from vibration at the lowest flow
rates. In the same way as with the control valve, a spindle guide with a hardened
bush is also available here. This pressure reducer has two stainless steel bellow
seals. The lower one serves to seal the spindle against the outside world. The upper
one is the compensating bellow seal, whose function is to equalise the forces at the
plug. To do this, the admission pressure goes through a hole in the plug in the
interior space to the outside of the bellow seal. The inside of the bellow seal is
connected to the downstream pressure side via openings. As the effective surface of
the bellow seal is the same size as the seating, the differential forces are
compensated for and fluctuations in the admission pressure have very little effect.
Upstream pressure

Water seal pot


Compensating bellow


Bellows seal


Figure 13: Pressure reducer

"ARI-PREDU " [1]
The pressure reducer is driven by a diaphragm actuator. The downstream pressure
to be regulated gets to the actuator diaphragm via the water seal pot and the control
line with a hydraulic seal (protection against high temperatures) and is converted to a
pressure that acts in the opposite direction to the spring pressure. The pre-tensioning
of the spring can be adjusted in such a way that at the desired downstream pressure,
both forces are counterbalanced. If the vapour flow then changes, this leads to an
adjustment of the plug until equilibrium is restored. Further details, design tips and
data on the "PREDU " can be found in [1] and [2].

5.4. Safety valves

Safety valves are necessary to protect the components of vapour facilities, such as
steam boilers, deaeraters and installation areas after the pressure reducers from
inadmissibly high pressure. Figure 14 shows the type suitable for this, the "ARI-
SAFE" type, that has an angle body.

Lifting device

Adjusting screw





Drain plug


Figure 14:
Safety valve "ARI-SAFE" [1]

The disc (plug) isolates the pressurised medium applied to the inlet from the usually
atmospheric pressure prevalent at the outlet. The pre-tensioned spring in the spring
bonnet transfers the pressure to the disc via the spindle. The pretensioning of the
spring can be varied with the adjusting screw, thus altering the set pressure. The
hardened plug is flexibly mounted and an even set pressure is ensured even if it has
been idle for a long time, thanks to the sensitive flat seat lapping. As the safety valve
is usually always closed, the seating surface is covered by the disc to protect it
against deposits. At high steam temperatures, the open spring bonnet prevents too
much heating, as if the temperature of the spring is too high, this simultaneously lead
to a lessening of force and a reduction in the set pressure. When used in deaerators
and in the condensate area, on the other hand, an enclosed execution is required.
The drainage opening closed with a screw can be used if steam trapping via the
exhaust line is insufficient. For further details and information on safety valves, see
[1, 3].

5.5. Steam traps

Steam traps are valves that automatically divert the condensate in vapour systems,
but which retain the vapour. With the "ARI-CONA " product line, you have available
an extensive range for a great variety of applications. The distinction is made here
between two groups: firstly there are the traps that continuously carry away all the
accruing condensate without delay, like the "CONA S" shown in Figure 15, that
works on the float principle. As soon as any liquid flows into the cover, the ball floats,
the valve opens and the condensate can flow away. The vapour arising from the
steam trap is then retained.


Inlet Outlet


Outlet Controller Hood

Figure 15: Float steam trap Figure 16: Bimetallic steam trap
"CONA S" [1] "CONA B [1]

On the other hand, the second group functions at a specific undercooling of the
condensate, an example of which is shown in the bimetallically driven "CONA B" in
Figure 16. The metallically packaged controller opens below the saturated steam
temperature, to ensure that only condensate is removed. The buildup of condensate
that this produces is sometimes also intentional, if the heat of the condensate is to be
used. The temperature at which the valve opens can be varied according to the
choice made from the controllers available. Additional types that also remove the
condensate below the saturated steam temperature and thus delay condensate
removal, are the enclosed diaphragm "CONA M" trap and the thermodynamic
"CONA TD" trap.

With all the traps shown here (apart from the CONA TD), the starting dewatering
and deaerating function, that is to say the immediate removal of large amounts of
condensate when drying out the installation, is integrated. Below the operating
temperature, the valve is fully open, it is only when this temperature is reached that
the trap works in its designated function. As steam trapping as a whole is an
extremely complex area and there are a vast number of products variants available,
we refer you to the additional information at this point [1, 4, 5].
5.6. Strainers/water separators

In its two physical states, the medium of steam is in practice only rarely free of
impurities and accumulated dirt. Strainers (Figure 17) with interior screens are ideal
for filtering out coarse matter, such as welding residue and particles of rust. Screens
are available in various mesh sizes. When making the selection, you have to find a
compromise between good separation and a permissible maintenance interval / loss
of pressure. At high steam speeds, droplets of condensate can cause erosion and
material abrasion.


Inlet Outlet

Inlet Outlet

Spiral plate



Trap connection

Figure 17: Strainer [1] Figure 18: Water separator

Fine matter in the vapour can be separated together with these condensate droplets
by means of water separators (Figure 18). These comprise a housing with an
internal, spiral-shaped sheet, which uses centrifugal forces to separate the droplets
and the contaminants. The condensate must be diverted via a steam trap at the lower
dryer connection. To protect the seats and the plugs against damage and to minimise
wear, strainers and if possible a water separator should always be arranged before
the control valves and the pressure reducers.

5.7. Distributors/collectors

To supply the individual consumers in vapour facilities, the pipes are normally
distributed from a central main to the individual lines. The reverse is true for the
condensate, this occurs locally in the individual lines at the consumers and has to be
brought together again centrally by means of collecting mains. This used to mean
complicated welded structures consisting of lengths of pipe, dished boiler ends,
connecting sleeves and stop valves. The variable modular design of the compact
distributor "ARI-CODI " (Figure 19) with integrated stop valves vastly reduces this
expenditure. The functioning parts of the valves can be replaced without having to
remove the entire distributor from the pipe. The individual valves have a stainless
steel bellow seal to seal the stem and have available a safety return seal which, if the
bellow seal is damaged and the valve is fully open, provides a temporary seal until it
is possible to effect replacements. For more information on the compact distributor,
see [1, 6].

Figure 19: Compact distributor "ARI-CODI " [1]

5.8. Other valves

In addition to the valves described here, there are other types of valves that are
useful and in special cases essential for the efficient and trouble-free operation of
vapour facilities. These include venting valves (vacuum breakers), flow indicators,
condensate operating temperature limiters, automatic starting dewatering machines
and return temperature limiters. These valves are described in more detail in [1, 5].

6. Selection and sizing

6.1. Finding the right type of valve

If the required type of valve is not stipulated when product selection begins, a rough
selection has to be made on the basis of your knowledge of the plant and the
parameters. The following points should be of assistance for this:

- The requisite function (e.g. isolation, control, safety, steam trap)

- Combining different functions in one valve
- Permissible limits/tolerances (e.g. control performance, loss of pressure)
- The medium (steam only, condensate only, etc.)
- The demands made on steam quality (e.g. pure steam for sterilisation)
- Fitting position
- Type of connection (e.g. flange, welded end)
- Remote maintenance/diagnostic options

These two examples should make things clearer: If a higher pressure is to be

reduced to a lower one, the simplest option is simply static throttling, for example, by
using a manual valve, where the required lower pressure is set once. At a steady flow
and constant admission pressure, this option is certainly adequate. If the conditions
are not constant, then a pressure reducer driven by the intrinsic medium can be
used, which will automatically adjust to the various operating states. However,
because they regulate proportionally, there is a certain deviation with pressure
reducers. Although if there are stringent demands for control accuracy, control valves
must be used, which meet these requirements in conjunction with appropriate
electronic or pneumatic controllers. A further example is the selection of steam traps.
Knowledge of the plant is necessary for this, for example, is immediate trapping
required before the regulating valves. On the other hand, a defined buildup of
condensate is desirable with steam-heated devices, to take advantage of the heat of
the condensate.

6.2. Defining sizes

The size of the chosen valve is determined by the flow rate of the steam or the
condensate for which it is intended. If the selected valve is too small, it provides too
much resistance, which could cause subsequent consumers to be undersupplied or
could allow too much condensate to build up. But there can also be problems with
valves that are too big, as well as the associated higher costs. If the selected
regulating valves are too big, the control properties worsen in line with the degree of
oversizing. For example, if a control valve with a linear flow characteristic is chosen
twice as big as the maximum required, this achieves the full flow required at approx.
50% of the travel distance. This means that the positioning accuracy and thus the
accuracy of control, is worse.

Safety valves that are oversized tend to vibrate and can hammer. These associated
mechanical stresses do not only affect the seat and the plug and thus the quality of
the seal. In extreme cases this can also result in the valve actually breaking.

Complete and correct valve sizing requires knowledge of the operating parameters,
such as the pressures, the temperatures and the flow rates. Various sizing aids are
available to the user, such as tables, charts and calculation slides. The computer
sizing program "ARI-VASI " is a fast, reliable and accurate option for size
measurement. As well as pure sizing, it is also possible to select the valves and
specify the precise type and manage it to suit the project.

The calculation formulae necessary for sizing are stipulated mainly by a vast number
of specified standards and regulations, as well as the pertinent technical
documentation. For example, [8] is applicable to stop valves and control valves and
[9, 10, and 11] apply to safety valves. They apply to the situation where the steam
medium remains in the same physical state and there is no phase change. With
steam trapping, on the other hand, there is usually evaporation, as the boiling hot or
only just below saturated steam temperature condensate loses pressure over the
trap. There are not yet generally valid, protected regulations defined by the specified
standards for this partial evaporation. The charts available for steam traps are
therefore based on measurements.

6.3. Important information for correct product selection

In addition to simply calculating the sizes of the valves, there are also additional
points to take into account for correct selection and determination. The choice of
material also involves correctly determining the nominal pressure level subject to the
temperature, to apply to all the valve types. For example, Table 1 shows the following
temperature/pressure assignment for flanges made of cast steel 1.0619+N:
max. perm. pressures in bar at temperature
20C 100C 150C 200C 250C 300C 350C 400C 450C
PN 25 25 bar 23.3bar 21.7 bar 19.4 bar 17.8 bar 16.1 bar 15 bar 14.4 bar 13.9 bar
PN 40 40 bar 37.3 bar 34.7 bar 30.2 bar 28.4 bar 25.8 bar 24 bar 23.1 bar 22.2 bar

Table 1: Pressure/temperature classification for flanges made of cast steel

1.01619+N (DIN EN 1092-1)

The type of stem seal, e.g. bellow seal or V-ring unit, must also be stipulated. With
control valves, once you have selected the valve, there are various options available
for choosing the method of actuation, but this is not covered by this essay.

7. Installation, operation and maintenance

For a steam valve to function properly, not only must the correct valve be chosen and
the size be right, it must also be fitted correctly. The list below reflects the most
important possible errors, although others can be found in the relevant operating and
installation instructions:

- The shipping braces and protective caps on the inlet and outlet have not been
- Attention has not been paid to the direction of flow and the mounting position
- The pipe is not properly supported, the forces and the torque fall on the valve
- The flange seals are not fitted centrally and are constricting the media flow path

Commissioning is also described in the operating instructions, possible errors here


- Installation not rinsed before valve is used for the first time
- Strainer not subsequently cleaned
- Hydraulic seal for pressure reducers not filled
- Any test gags fitted for the safety valves have not been removed
- The blow-off line for safety valves is not connected

Maintenance includes cleaning the strainers and regularly "desludging" the

condensate collector supports. Leaky gland packing on the stem guides should be
tightened, if possible. Safety valves must be vented from time to time, to test that
they work. However, this should not be done too often, as this will wear the sensitive
lapping on the facings, as it is not possible to have strainers before the safety valves.