Cavitation Prevention | Valves | Valves

Cavitation Prevention Written by Cla-Val Technical Products Department Pumps & Systems,
The Telltale Signs of Cavitation

October 2008

In water distribution systems where high pressure differentials and high flow rates are present, valves, piping and equipment really take a beating. When automatic control valves are exposed to such conditions, they will often exhibit vibration and excessive noise, letting the operator know that the pressure differentials and high flow rates are taking their toll. When these "symptoms" appear, they are clear indications that cavitation is occurring and will be followed by diminished performance and failure. Cavitation in valves occurs when the velocity of the fluid at the seating area becomes excessive, creating a sudden, severe reduction in pressure below the vapor pressure level and causing the formation of thousands of tiny bubbles. As fluid velocity subsequently decreases, the pressure level rises, causing the vapor bubbles to collapse and release a substantial amount of energy that literally eats away the metal surfaces of the valve interior. This can eventually result in multiple performance issues, including loss of flow capacity and erosion damage. The rule of thumb is: with relatively low downstream pressure conditions, the higher the pressure drop across the valve, the greater potential for damage. See the inset for applications where cavitation commonly occurs.
What Does Cavitation Damage Look Like?

It is not pretty. In fact, it is startling what the force of the vapor bubbles impinging on a valve's metal surfaces can do. The collapse of vapor bubbles can cause local pressure waves of up to 1,000,000-psi, causing deterioration of any surface with which they come in contact. The noise and vibration that accompany the valve damage are also a concern, posing a potential safety hazard for personnel working in close proximity to the cavitating valve.
Determining the Potential for Cavitation

The first step in avoiding this commonly occurring problem is to analyze the system to measure the potential for valve cavitation. Analysis should take into account parameters such as pipe and valve size, maximum and minimum flow rates, static/dynamic inlet and outlet pressure, water temperatures and elevation above sea level. This analysis can be performed using commercially available software or another approach such as the analytical method described in Hydraulics of Pipelines: Pumps, Valves, Cavitation, Transients by J. Paul Tullis of (1 of 4) [05-07-2009 22:22:01]

P2) Where: P1 = valve inlet pressure (PSI) P2 = valve outlet pressure (PSI) Pv = gage vapor pressure (PSI) To further clarify. Preventing Cavitation in Valves Once the potential for cavitation in a system is understood. the conditions causing cavitation are directly proportional to the kinetic energy of fluid.pump-zone. Following Tullis' methodology. the next step is determining the best method to prevent it from occurring. which is related to delta P (see Figure 1). Sigma is defined as a cavitation index that identifies the level of cavitation that will occur with various flow and pressure conditions through a restriction device (such as a valve).).com/valves/valves/cavitation-prevention/print. flow tests are conducted to determine a Sigma curve for the valve.Cavitation Prevention | Valves | Valves Utah State University (copyright 1989 by John Wiley & Sons. Some of the most common and effective measures are: 1. Installing two valves in series where extremely high pressure differentials exist http://www. Inc.Pv) / (P1 .html (2 of 4) [05-07-2009 22:22:01] . Sigma is defined as (P2 .

The negative in this scenario is that space at valve installations is often limited and there simply is not enough room to install two valves. there is also the cost of the second valve to consider. An added benefit is that the second valve acts as a backup in the event the first valve fails. By nature. http://www. This is achieved by performing comprehensive and thorough flow testing with a sizing program to ensure that the right size valve is chosen to provide cavitation protection. installed valve can be retrofitted with anti-cavitation trim. any anti-cavitation device will result in reduced flow capacity. the negative effects can be minimized when the valve is properly sized for the application. Another negative is that orifice plates can actually cause cavitation to occur. they are only effective within a narrow flow range and will cause a reduction of flow capacity within the system.html (3 of 4) [05-07-2009 22:22:01] . the cavitation solution is self-contained and should be able to provide a wider range of flow rates and smooth operation with low levels of vibration and noise. Orifice Plates An obvious benefit of using orifice plates as backpressure devices to reduce cavitation's effect is the relatively low cost to purchase and install them in the pipeline. ensuring at least some level of pressure-reducing functionality in the application.Cavitation Prevention | Valves | Valves 2.pump-zone. Despite this caveat. Using backpressure-producing devices such as one or more orifice plates downstream of a valve that is exposed to cavitation-causing conditions Using valves equipped with anti-cavitation trim in systems where extreme pressure differentials and high velocity flow rates are present Pros and Cons of the Most Common Cavitation Prevention Measures Two Valves in Series Installing two valves in series will effectively mitigate the incidence of cavitation. In addition to these concerns. Fortunately. Anti-Cavitation Valves and Trim Several automatic control valve manufacturers offer products that are designed to reduce or eliminate cavitation. creating the potential for damage to downstream fittings and valves. especially if an existing. when orifice plates are used in this way. Unfortunately. using an anti-cavitation valve is generally considered the most effective approach. Whether an existing valve is enhanced with the cavitation-fighting components or a new valve equipped with such trim is used.

They can provide further value by consulting with valve manufacturers and specifying valves that are properly sized and equipped with anti-cavitation trim or other options. Whichever avenue the water company chooses. It is just a matter of which approach will work best with the company's operational and financial parameters.Cavitation Prevention | Valves | Valves It is important to note that there are occasionally applications where a system's pressure and flow rates are so extreme that the only effective measure against cavitation is a combination of a valve outfitted with anti-cavitation trim. October 2008 .pump-zone. In the case of an existing pipeline. The long-term benefits are significant: lower maintenance installed in conjunction with orifice plates. Fortunately. fewer equipment failures. purchased and installed in a pipeline. Valves http://www. this scenario is not the norm. operating a water distribution system with little or no cavitation is possible.html (4 of 4) [05-07-2009 22:22:01] . Engineers and consultants can provide a significant value to their customers by considering cavitation when designing their systems. the most direct approach to minimizing or even eliminating cavitation is either replacing existing valves with cavitation-fighting valves or retrofitting them with anti-cavitation trim. For more information. less downtime associated with valve replacements. and a system that performs with optimum efficiency. Tags: Maintenance Minders . distribution systems would be designed with cavitation prevention measures as an integral part of the system. It goes back to taking that all-important first step of performing a complete cavitation study before valves are selected. Designing a Cavitation-Free System In the best-case scenario. contact the Cla-Val Technical Products Department.

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