Energy Savings Opportunities in Control Valves, Reduced Energy Consumption

Pumping system control valve inefficiencies in plant processes offer opportunities for energy savings and reduced maintenance costs. Valves that consume a large fraction of the total pressure drop for the system or are excessively throttled can be opportunities for energy savings. Pressure drops or head losses in liquid pumping systems increase the energy requirements of these systems. Pressure drops are caused by resistance or friction in piping and in bends, elbows, or joints, as well as by throttling across the control valves. The power required to overcome a pressure drop is proportional to both the fluid flow rate (given in gallons per minute [gpm]) and the magnitude of the pressure drop (expressed in feet of head).

For example, for fluid with a specific gravity of 1, a pressure drop of one pound per square inch (psi) is equal to a head loss of 2.308 feet.

Fluid horsepower = flow rate (gpm) x head loss (ft) x fluid specific gravity / 3,960 (where 3,960 is a conversion factor)

The friction loss and pressure drop caused by fluids flowing through valves and fittings depend on the size and type of pipe and fittings used, the roughness of interior surfaces, and the fluid flow rate and viscosity. Typical ranges of head loss coefficients (K values) for various fittings are given in the table. Values can vary by 30% to 50% because of variations in pipe size, type of fluid, and other factors. Fitting head losses vary with the square of the fluid flow rate or flow velocity:

HL = K x (v2/2xg)


HL = the fitting head loss, in feet

v = fluid flow velocity, in feet/second

g = the gravitational constant, 32.174 feet/second

K = the fitting head loss coefficient. For valves, K is a function of valve type, size, and the percentage of time that the valve is open.




Energy Savings Opportunities

Pumping system controls should be evaluated to determine the most economical control method. High-head-loss valves, such as globe valves, are commonly used for control purposes. Significant losses occur with these types of valves, however, even when they are fully open. If the evaluation shows that a control valve is needed, choose the type that minimizes pressure drop across the valve.

Adjustable speed drives (ASDs) are often recommended for pumping systems that have variable flow rate requirements. When systems are being retrofitted with ASDs, the control valve can be removed from the system to eliminate unnecessary pressure drops. The control valve can be replaced with a spool piece or, when isolation capability is desired, a carefully selected low-loss replacement valve.

Figure 1 illustrates the wide variability in frictional head loss as a function of flow rate across three types of fully open, 12-inch valves. Substantial energy and cost savings can be achieved by installing a low-loss valve, such as a butterfly valve. When installing a smaller pump impeller, trimming an existing impeller, or making other pumping system modifications, consider replacing current valves with more efficient ones.




Suggested Actions

  • Check the operating conditions for all control valves in your plant processes.
  • Consult vendor catalogs, equipment manufacturers, and DOE’s Pumping System Assessment Tool (PSAT) for valve pressure drop data.
  • Use PSAT to estimate the energy losses and costs of throttled valves.


About Jonathon Bell

Jonathon Bell is an entrepreneur, focused on building his family's legacy in the industrial pump market. Currently, he is focused in Latin America, building Dynapro Pumps Mexico from the ground up while contributing in Canada & the United States with Sales & Marketing efforts.
His commitment is developing teams through individual and partnered coaching, to bring out the best in each team member and giving them the tools to help them reach their goals. Guiding and teaching the core values of passion, evolving, and team communication, his teams and members become top performers in their respective fields.
He is honest, generous, and passionate about others success for them individually, their families, and their communities.

About Dynapro:

A professional, trustworthy company, committed to create and maintain lasting relationships with our customers and our community. Our focus is on constantly evolving our business practices and dedicated service to always be aligned with our clients and the environment.
Our strong sense of responsibility to the environment and the communities we live and work in help encourage our clients and other companies to join forces with us to make a difference.
We manufacture our own pump models and interchangeable high quality products, improve products, and materials. We deliver them for less and faster to help achieve our goal of reduced consumption; energy & materials, and reduce maintenance.
For more information, please visit https://www.dynaproequipment.com/about-us.html
References: DOE/GO-102007-2228 March 2007 Pumping Systems Tip Sheet #10
Industrial Technologies Program Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
U.S. Department of Energy Washington, DC 20585-0121 www.eere.energy.gov/industry
“Control Valve Replacement Savings,” U.S. Department of Energy Performance Optimization Tip, Energy Matters, July 1998; available online at: http://www.nrel.gov/docs/legosti/fy98/23382.pdf