Overcoming Fugitive Emissions in Isolation Valves

by , | Feb 27, 2024 | Event, Valves, Actuators & Regulators

Jim Cahill

Jim Cahill

Chief Blogger, Social Marketing Leader

Emerson’s Horst Balau presented Solving the Fugitive Emission Challenge for Isolation Valves at the 2024 Emerson Exchange Conference in Düsseldorf, Germany. Here is his presentation abstract:

Fugitive emission reduction has become a business imperative for plant operators as governments sharpen their focus on environmental protection, and sustainability credentials become a barrier to entry. With valves as the largest contributor to a plant’s fugitive emissions, addressing the hundreds of valves in a typical facility is a challenge. Operators can solve this challenge and deploy capital budgets efficiently using a risk-based approach to guide valve upgrades. This presentation will help users establish a risk level for a given application by examining contributing factors. The presentation will then detail the essential features of superior low emission valve technology to provide users with an upgrade pathway to more sustainable operations.

Fugitive emissions caused by isolation valvesHorst opened his presentation by discussing the business imperative around reducing fugitive emissions. Governments have sharpened their focus on environmental protection and tasked regulators with enforcing tighter emissions standards. Increasingly competitive market dynamic dictates an even sharper focus on the efficiency of capital allocated to process improvement initiatives. Producers along the value chain must increasingly demonstrate strong emissions credentials to gain access to end markets.

Isolation valves with superior fugitive emission performanceFugitive emissions cause valuable product loss, can cause imposition of non-compliance penalties, and increase operating costs. The cost of lost product through fugitive emissions for a 250,000-bpd refinery is about $3.2 million annually.

The selection of isolation valve technology matters greatly. Modern valve designs can minimize risk of harmful fugitive emissions to personnel and the environment. Advanced modern valves to stay ahead of increasingly stringent and complex emissions regulation. These valves improve the profitability of the operations with increased process efficiency and minimized product loss and lower maintenance labor and equipment costs related to identifying and repairing leaks.

Horst addressed the question, “Where do I start?” Areas to identify opportunities include outdated valve technology, high-frequency cycling, temperature-cycling valves, processes containing challenging media flows, and valves critical to plant throughput. It is important to identify and upgrade the highest risk valves to maximize returns on sustainability investments.

The properties of superior low-emission valves include quarter-turn action, precision machining, engineered sealing materials, live-loaded stem seal systems, certified compliance, side-load protection, high-integrity joints, and no-bleed automation. It is important to specify these features when upgrading emitting valves.

Here are some valve and stem seal design features important for superior emissions performance and reliability.

Isolation valve stem seal design for fugitive emissions

For high-pressure butterfly valves and Trunnion MTD C-Ball valves, it’s important to have side-load protected stem seals.

Side-load protected stem seal fugitive emission protection

Standards and regulations come at many levels including international bodies, national governments, environmental agencies, and industry standards. Horst cited a couple of examples, ISO 15848-1 / -2 and API 608. ISO 15858 specifies testing procedures for the evaluation of external leakage of valve stem seals (or shaft) and body joints of isolating valves and control valves intended for application in volatile air pollutants and hazardous fluids.

The API 608 standard for metal ball valves mandates that compliant valves are certified to API 641 type testing of quarter-turn valves for fugitive emissions.

Visit the Isolation Valves section on Emerson.com for more information on the capabilities and performance best suited to reduce fugitive emissions in your facility.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.

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