Approximately 70% of the world’s fresh water is used for agriculture, and nearly every manufacturing process also uses water in products like cars, computers, pharmaceuticals, not to mention its use in oil, gas, and other forms of energy. National Geographic reports, “The amount of fresh water consumed for world energy production is on track to double within the next 25 years.” So what is a plant owner/operator to do to stay ahead of this trend?
Water Flow Meters
One of the first steps in helping water conservation in plants is to install flow meters to measure water flow rates if they aren’t already installed. In a report from the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program, a company used meters to improve operating and maintenance procedures, which reduced water flow by an astounding 10.9 million gallons per year. These changes ultimately saved the company $38,000 for the year in addition to avoiding a sewer access charge of $225,000.
In the end, the best benefit of a water flow meter is that they can tell you which applications are the water guzzlers and even which valves associated with the systems are causing the issues.
Correct Valve Sizing
One of the most common errors when choosing or installing a valve is improper sizing caused by a number of issues including incorrect measurement, poor understanding of application, and other issues. Whether valves are sized too large or too small, it is far more likely they will lose media. In the case of water, it may not be hazardous but can be costly in both higher bills and damage to surrounding equipment.
Water Pressure Reducing Valves
In addition to sizing correctly, many applications tend to use a valve where more pressure is used than needed. When selecting valves and related components, it is important to know how much pressure is needed for the particular application and to stay within the recommended ranges. Incorrect water pressure can add up to wasted water from over use to get a job done when the pressure is too high or extended use in order to finish a project when the pressure is too low.
A water pressure reducing valve comes in both direct acting and pilot operated versions. Direct acting valves are the more common of these types of valves and consist of globe-type bodies with a spring-loaded, heat-resistant diaphragm connected to the outlet of the valve. The spring holds a pre-set tension on the valve seat that is installed with a pressure equalizing mechanism for precise water pressure control. Pilot operated valves are operated manually to a specific user’s specifications.
Structural Graphite Composite Valves
When working with salt water or other corrosive materials, it is also essential to have a valve that is resistant to corrosion in order to conserve water as well as extend its own product life. One such valve is the SIMS SIMSITE® made for marine and industrial applications. These valves had no leakage when pressure tested and exceeded the vacuum test after being subjected to 27″ Hg over a 15 minute period and showed no vacuum losses.
This problem arises when a pressure surge or wave caused when a fluid in motion is forced to stop or change direction suddenly. The issue is most commonly caused by a valve that closes suddenly at an end of a system which causes a pressure wave in the pipe also called hydraulic shock. However, there are valves that specifically address this issue.
One such valve is the DFT silent check valve from Triangle Fluid Controls that is known around the industry as the valve to use to eliminate or prevent water hammer issues. DFT is the only check valve company who specializes in a wide range of spring-assisted in-line silent check valves made with materials from cast iron to exotic alloys all of which meet various industrial applications.
More Water Conservation with Valves
If you want to learn more about using valves in water conservation, download this guide from the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer.
There is also this interesting piece on how Johnson Screens, a fabricator of metal filters and screens in Minnesota, found a way to recycle their water and save big.