Development of an innovative range of valve actuators to work under extreme environments
The companies TALLERES F. LARRINAGA S.L., Metal Stamping & Hot Industry S.L. (MESHIND) and the Metallurgy Research Centre AZTERLAN collaborate on the development of these critical elements, which will have to withstand extreme working conditions. For this purpose, a detailed study of the materials and the working conditions is the first step to later design the new components and their optimal manufacturing routes by means of different technologies.
In extreme environments, such as in offshore facilities or chemical plants, equipment and means of production are subject to harsh working conditions that affect the durability and safety of components, equipment, and structures. As explained by AZTERLAN´s corrosion expert PhD. Enara Mardaras, “in the case of offshore platforms, for example, corrosion represents one of the main problems. The combination of salt water and inclement weather are highly corrosive, affecting not only the pipelines, but all the equipment from the platform, compromising its life in service and structural functionality. On the other hand, in the case of chemical plants the most common aggressive means are water and aqueous solutions, acids and alkalis, ... etc., together with the abrasion produced by dust, sand or any other type of material involved in the process”.
In this scenario, conduction pipes and valves play a critical role. As explained by Unai Garate, General Manager of the company MESHIND, "the fluids that circulate through the conduction pipes pass through the valves at high pressure, giving a combination of gases, water, chemicals, suspended solids, etc. At that point, valve actuators are part of the first line of defense to ensure safety and operational reliability. In addition, they must be prepared to operate with different environmental factors such as low or high temperatures, weather conditions and dirt, pressure variation, etc.".
Quarter-turn mechanical actuators are critical valve components that enable the opening and shutting operations in valves. The closing torque is applied through a manual flywheel or through an electric drive, but always through the mechanical actuator that multiplies the torque efforts applied in order to open or close the valve. As explained by the specialists from TALLERES F. LARRINAGA S.L. (valve component designer and manufacturer), "the reliability over time of this component is very critical, since its failure can lead to catastrophic accidents. Specifically, for its application in extreme environments, we have detected an opportunity for the development of new products that meet rigorous technical specifications and requirements that enable their functionality".
For this purpose, TALLERES F. LARRINAGA (project coordinator), MESHIND and AZTERLAN have teamed up on a joint project “to design and develop a novel range of quarter-turn actuators for valves through two different alternatives: using laser cladding technologies and by means of another type of advanced manufacturing technologies". These new actuators will meet the demanding technical specifications that enable their use in extreme environments of corrosion and low temperature. "We aim at designing 9 different actuator models. In the case of the alternatives produced by manufacturing laser cladding technologies one of our objectives will be as well to reduce the use of specific alloying elements like nickel and molybdenum (estimated a 90% reduction of these two elements), also improving the sustainability of the complete process".
Left: Union between the base material and the metal contribution via cladding; Right: Comparison of polarization curves between AISI 316L stainless steel and Inconel 625.
This research work is being developed within the ACTXTRM project, funded by the Support Program of Aid for R&D Business - HAZITEK under the following agreement license ZL-2022/00663-ACTXTRM. This is an action co-financed by the Basque Government and the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund 2021-2027 (ERDF).