In industrial applications, the successful transfer of fluids requires different types of valves to open and close the flow. Solenoid valves are a popular choice because they offer rapid automatic opening and closing, remote control and high process security.
The type of fluid being used in a production process may potentially reduce the operational lifetime of a solenoid valve. Why so? Well, many parts of the valve, such as the body, mechanism and seals, will be in direct contact with the fluid. In diverse industrial applications, the fluids may include aggressive media like cleaning agents and reagents used in food processing, car washing and industrial washing applications. These fluids require the careful selection of a solenoid valve to do the job safely, reliably and effectively.
The materials used in the valve should not influence the chemical composition of the fluid, i.e. breakdown and contaminate, especially in the food and beverage industry. Here, for processes such as the cleaning of bottles or machinery, a solenoid valve using lead-based materials could not be specified for obvious reasons. Instead, stainless steel is more appropriate, which is the case in the medical and pharmaceutical sectors too.
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Impact on choice
It is important to avoid comparing solenoid valves, feature by feature, when looking to specify the right product for an installation. However, on many occasions the specific application must guide the common sense choice. For instance, where maximum working life is required, such as in outdoor service scenarios, then corrosion resistance must be a priority. Similarly, one must also factor in the presence of an explosion-risk environment, such as those found in the oil and gas and petrochemical sectors.
An example of a solenoid valve developed for use in challenging applications where aggressive chemicals or fluids are present is our 221G series stainless steel solenoid valve. The use of high-grade 316L stainless steel as the valve body material is significant as in harsh environments it gives increased system reliability and, in turn, improved operational performance and productivity. In fact, it has shown to deliver 30% more life on average (depending on the application) versus some other technologies.
Offering wide-ranging chemical compatibility is vital, and the 221G series valve has been designed to be 30% more resistant in corrosive environments. The use of fluoroelastomer (FKM) seals aids dependable operation under severe chemical conditions and at higher temperatures where many other seal materials may perish or otherwise lose their integrity. Degrading seals can lead to fluid leaks and the associated safety risks and costly downtime. FKM seals are especially well suited to arduous conditions with petroleum fuels, mineral-based hydraulic fluids or other solvents present.
Article contributed by Valéry Blanchet, marketing product manager, Fluid Control Division Europe, Parker Hannifin Corporation.