Valves perform a vital function in the lab of opening, closing, and controlling the flow of fluid through a pipe or tubing. Valves come in a grand array of sizes, materials of construction, controls, and precision. Simple valves are used to open or close the tube for flow. More sophisticated valves can control the amount of flow by controlling the size of the aperture through which the fluid is allowed to pass. Some computer-controlled valves can deliver high accuracy and precision of flow for experiments like multi-flow reactors. For a list of valve manufacturers, see our online directory: LabManager.com/valve-manufacturers
9 Questions to Ask When Buying Valves:
- What is the application?
- What fluid’s flow needs to be controlled?
- What is the size of the pipe or tubing?
- What is the pressure of the fluid?
- What level of flow control is required?
- How accurately and precisely does the flow need to be controlled and delivered?
- What valve material is needed to be compatible with the fluid?
- How many valves are needed?
- Do we need a backup valve, in case of valve failure?
The wetted surfaces of the valve will interact with the fluid being controlled. It is important to understand any potential chemical reactions between the fluid and the valve. Since valves are made in a wide variety of different materials from metals to plastics, a safe material with appropriate chemical compatibility can usually be found.
Valves are used for a wide diversity of functions in the lab. These different kinds of valves are often produced by manufacturers that specialize in different applications. A valve for water plumbing is designed and constructed significantly differently than a valve used for proportional pressure control. Especially when exploring a different valve application, start with a manufacturer that has expertise in that area.