As a result of continued research into and development of its technical ceramics manufacturing capabilities, advanced materials company Morgan Advanced Materials can now manufacture balls of up to diameter nominal 250 (DN250) for severe service valves from its Nilcra Zirconia-based material, company technical ceramics and carbon GM Steve Thompson tells Mining Weekly.
Morgan Advanced Materials released the new technology in March.
“Previously, valve balls made from Nilcra Zirconia have been available only in sizes of up to DN150, but the trend in process industries is to reduce cost by designing systems with larger pipe diameters, which require fewer devices overall,” he explains.
Thompson says that, in addition to minerals processing, valve balls are ideal for use with flow control valves operating in industries such as oil and gas, mineral processing and pulp and paper.
He tells Mining Weekly that the price of the service ball valves depends on the final specifications of the valves and Morgan supplies the valve components only to original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs), which then determine the final price of the valve.
He adds that the OEMs that Morgan supplies do not provide information on where the products supplied by Morgan eventually end up.
“However, the material is suitable for extensive use in minerals processing operations such as bauxite refining.”
Nilcra Zirconia is a magnesia partially stabilised zirconia and delivers strength and toughness similar to that of cast iron, together with great hardness that delivers resistance to erosion and great corrosion resistance and is, therefore, frequently used instead of conventional materials, such as metal alloys, to provide longer component life, says Thompson.
“The material’s properties make it ideal for use with slurries generated in mineral processing, as well as abrasive rock particles and sand encountered in oil and gas extraction and processing,” he says, adding that this, and the ability to withstand high actuation torques applied during valve operation, have led to Nilcra Zirconia being regularly specified by OEMs worldwide for more than 25 years.
Thompson tells Mining Weekly that in recent years there has been increasing demand across multiple sectors to reduce cost by minimising the number of pipes and pipeline devices by increasing pipe diameters.
“Therefore the diameters of the valves which control flow in these systems have also had to increase. Flow levels are determined by the square of the pipe diameter, meaning a DN250 system can handle about three times the capacity of its DN150 counterpart, typically reducing the overall component count by about 65%.”
Thompson says Morgan has pushed the boundaries of ceramic processing and delivering valve balls to DN250 size has created a realm of new possibilities for system designers.