As the industry works to tap new sources of energy and valve technology improves, so does the design of the actuators that power those valves. One could say that valves and actuators are a bit like cars and trucks — manufacturers are always coming out with new models and upgrades. Here we take a brief look at some general trends happening in actuator design and highlight two new products that incorporate some of these upgrades.
Right now, the actuation market is seeing several advancements driven by the unique needs of shale gas and water applications, as well as improvements in products destined for oil and gas pipelines. For example, newer actuators feature:
- Low voltages to reduce concern about spark
- Solar power for better energy efficiency and so their power is self-contained
- Control systems so that the actuators can be controlled from a remote location in case of a breach
- Smaller size but still with plenty of torque to open and close large valves
Bettis EHO Electro-Hydraulic Operator
The Bettis EHO Electro-Hydraulic Operator features many of the new actuator design trends. It is specially designed for executing emergency shutdown (ESD) in a remote region, which requires a high level of control and self-contained power. It can be used on medium-sized to large valves, on both natural gas and oil pipelines.
Some of the new features of the Bettis EHO Electro-Hydraulic Operator:
- Voltages as low as 24V DC
- Easily powered by Solar panels
- Double-acting and spring-return
- Very large torque output
We had the opportunity to test demo the Bettis EHO actuator in our Riverdale facility. After putting it through its paces, we were very impressed — we didn’t find any issues and the product worked great.
EIM TEC2 Electric Actuator with Model 500
The new EIM TEC2 is an upgrade from the TEC2000. The TEC2 is an example of how new actuator design emphasizes products that are both more compact and more cost-effective. This actuator has the same features as the larger TEC2000, but it is more economical.
Its features include:
- Expanded power output
- A more compact design
- Wireless and Bluetooth capabilities
- Simplified digital controls
- Non-intrusive and non-penetrating design
Another emerging actuator design trend, and one that we may see more of in the future, particularly for control valves, is smart actuation.
Although the technology has been around for a long time, there are still many, many actuators that don’t use it. Last November in Valve Magazine, CPLloyd Consulting’s Chris Warnett wrote that the reason for this may be because the technological capabilities were beyond what the end-users actually wanted in terms of diagnostic and maintenance tools. However, Warnett writes that price and competitive pressures may soon cause actuator manufacturers to seek greater efficiencies and provide their customers with better support. This, he predicts, may lead to a convergence of new technologies and user expectations. It may be too soon to tell, but as automation continues to impact the valve market, it seems likely that it will affect actuators as well.
Like cars and trucks, valve and actuator design are constantly evolving. Over the past few decades, cars have gone from carburetors to fuel injection, from standard AM/FM radio to satellite. Similarly, in the last 15 years of actuator development, we’ve seen mechanical controls move to solid state, analog signals to Hart and Bus protocols, and mechanical switches to magnetic reed sensing.
At Allied, we make it our mission to stay informed about advances in the field so that we can help you select the best products to meet your needs today and into the future.