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Putting steel in the shade: Compressor valve plate lasts twelve times longer

News International-French

25 Mar 2015

HuanTian Industrial and Victrex are developing a parts material standard for China’s reciprocating compressor industry.

The efficiency and reliability of reciprocating compressors can be substantially improved through the use of valve plates made of Victrex PEEK. This is the conclusion built on usage results at the end-users of the Chinese compressor component manufacturer HuanTian Compressor and Victrex, the world’s leading supplier of polyaryletherketone (PAEK)-based solutions. In a natural gas compressor, for example, valve plates made of Victrex PEEK 450GL30 can work continuously for twelve months, whereas the steel plates generally fractured after about one month. Now, the HuanTian Industrial / Victrex partnership activity has proved that the durable, high-performance polymer has the potential to take its place as the industry standard in China.

The valve plate is a key component in reciprocating compressors with a direct impact on their efficiency and reliability. When steel – with its significantly shorter service life – is used, steel splinters could cause serious damage to the cylinder, piston and piston ring if the valve plate breaks. The use of durable Victrex PEEK plates will avoid such asset losses in the future and will provide end users in the oil and gas industry or in fertiliser production plants with a noticeable added value by reducing downtimes and the associated costs.

"This material has proved to be the best material to replace stainless steel valve plates. It has enormous potential for use in China’s oil and gas and chemical industry”, explains Zhu Feng, General Manager of Taizhou HuanTian Industrial. The company has teamed up with Victrex to establish a standard for the China Compressor Standard Committee for the use of Victrex PEEK 450GL30 and 450CA30 as a valve plate raw material.

Besides having a significantly longer service life, PEEK valve plates also help to save energy during the opening and closing process. This is because air flow loss is reduced by their better wear characteristics, surface matching, elasticity and sealability. The polymer plates also produce a lower noise level than steel.

It is understood that process reciprocating compressors account for about 50% of China’s growing compressor market. To address this, Victrex aims to continue development of its metal-replacement technologies in oil and gas and other applications.

Indeed, for more than 36 years, Victrex PEEK has been used successfully in a wide variety of industries, including the automotive, aviation and oil and gas industries, as a replacement for metal. The reason for this is the long-standing expertise of the British PAEK manufacturer and the excellent combination of characteristics that predestines the high-performance polymer to be used as a replacement for metal in extreme ambient conditions. These characteristics include high temperature resistance, high wear resistance, high impact strength, excellent chemical resistance, hydrolysis resistance and dimensional stability.