Giant valves for sustainable energy at Tata Steel Port Talbot 03 December 2014

Valvestock, Pipe Center's specialist industrial valves operation, has supplied three giant 48in butterfly valves for the new sustainable energy storage system at Tata Steel's Port Talbot plant.

The system recovers coke oven gas (COG), a by-product of coke-making, for use as a fuel in iron and steelmaking processes at the site – so eliminating the need to import natural gas and saving the plant huge costs.

Tata Steel approached several suppliers for the valve contract, but says it selected Valvestock following assessments of product quality and technical support.

"A key aspect of the project was to determine the most appropriate valve seal material," comments Andrew Thomas, process specialist, who headed up the project for Tata Steel.

"This required a great deal of research and discussion, and Valvestock's experience and support in was paramount."

One of the valves was for isolating an existing COG main, which could then be used to supply the new COG main via a tee-piece. The other two were installed on the gas holder to control gas flow.

To comply with safety requirements and provide an additional level of resilience, the valves were also equipped with different methods of actuation.

One is electro-hydraulically operated, while the other is actuated by nitrogen, providing an alternative means of isolation in the event of either power failure or loss of gas supply.

Prior to delivery, detailed testing of the valves was carried out at manufacturer Pentair's factory in France, with joint inspections by project managers from Tata Steel and Valvestock witnessing hydrostatic pressure testing on both sides of the valve paddles.

Additional tests were carried out at Valvestock's premises in Fareham, to witness operation of the valves once complete with actuators.

Due to the harsh industrial and marine environment at the Port Talbot works, these valves have been coated in a high-specification paint to resist corrosion.

"I was very pleased with the service provided by Valvestock: they were responsive and answered every query and phone call, [with] changes to plans quickly accommodated," comments Thomas.

A lot of work was done to ensure the project was delivered on time and to specification. The Tata Steel operating team are very happy with the result."

Brian Tinham

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