Benefits of using mixing valves in processing, industrial applications

A mixing valve is a mechanical device that controls fluid temperature and are crucial for applications where precise control is necessary.

By Christine Tarlecki May 22, 2024
Courtesy: ThermOmegaTech

Process valve insights

  • Mixing valves, like thermostatic and motorized types, regulate fluid temperature precisely, vital for industrial, aerospace, and defense applications’ efficiency.
  • They maintain consistent temperatures by blending hot and cold fluids, crucial for preventing equipment damage and ensuring system longevity.

A mixing valve is a mechanical device that controls fluid temperature such as water, lube oil or hydraulic fluid, by blending hot and cold fluids to provide a consistent output temperature. They are crucial in industrial, aerospace and defense systems where precise fluid temperature control is necessary.

Two types of mixing valves

Two primary categories are motorized and thermostatic mixing valves.

Motorized mixing valves, also known as motorized or electronically controlled valves, use an electric actuator or motor to adjust the position of the valve’s internal components. This motorized adjustment allows precise control over the hot and cold fluid ratio, which regulates the outlet temperature.

Motorized mixing valves are often controlled electronically through a dedicated controller and are used in commercial and industrial settings where accuracy is paramount. They are often used in applications requiring integration with automation systems such as large-scale HVAC systems.

Thermostatic mixing valves use a thermal element, such as a wax-based cartridge, to adjust the mixing valve automatically based on fluid temperature. The thermal element expands or contracts in response to temperature fluctuations, which regulates the flow to maintain a consistent output temperature.

Thermostatic mixing valves are self-actuating and do not require external power to operate. They are commonly used in engines, compressors, lubrication oil cooling systems, hydrostatic drive circuits, radiators and hydraulic power units (HPUs).

The primary difference between these mixing valves is the control method. Motorized valves use electric actuators and electronic control systems, while thermostatic valves rely on self-operating thermal elements.

A mixing valve is crucial in industrial, aerospace and defense systems where precise fluid temperature control is necessary. Courtesy: ThermOmegaTech

A mixing valve is crucial in industrial, aerospace and defense systems where precise fluid temperature control is necessary. Courtesy: ThermOmegaTech

How a mixing valve works

A mixing valve usually has three inlet connections: one for hot flow, one for cold flow, and one for the mixed fluid outlet. The 3-way control valve modulates between the hot and cold inlet feeds (ports “B” and “C”) to mix your fluid to the desired specified temperature exiting the “A” port.

The mixing valve would ensure the fluid remains within the optimal temperature range, preventing overheating or excessive cooling. Such temperature extremes could result in system malfunctions or damage.

When temperatures surpass recommended limits, fluid viscosity decreases, leading to issues like poor lubrication, seal degradation due to thermal stress, and even occurrences of pump cavitation or failure, conversely, fluid viscosity increases when temperatures fall below the recommended range, causing undue stress on internal components due to insufficient lubrication.

Mixing hot and cold fluids in controlled proportions helps maintain consistent temperatures, ensuring efficient operation and longevity of components.

Applications and settings that benefit from a mixing valve

Mixing valves ensure uniform temperatures, prevent overheating, and enhance process efficiency, making them indispensable components in various applications in manufacturing plants, chemical processing facilities, and other industrial facilities.

Without the intervention of mixing valves, temperature fluctuations could lead to detrimental outcomes such as component degradation, equipment malfunction and safety hazards.

 

Mixing and diverting valves are different because mixing is focused on fluid temperature control whereas diverting valves are used for fluid routing.

Mixing and diverting valves are different because mixing is focused on fluid temperature control whereas diverting valves are used for fluid routing. Courtesy: ThermOmegaTech

The difference between diverting and mixing valves

The primary distinction between mixing and diverting valves lies in their purpose: Fluid temperature control vs. fluid routing.

A diverting valve controls flow between multiple outlets or pathways and directs it to different system components. A mixing valve, on the other hand, is designed to control fluid temperature by blending hot and cold fluids to achieve a consistent and safe output temperature.

Mixing valves play a critical role in various industrial applications. They offer precise control over fluid temperatures and thereby enhance overall process efficiency.

Mixing valves’ versatility allows them to be applied in multiple settings, from large-scale industrial plants to smaller commercial systems. Whether regulating the temperature of water in a heating system, controlling the flow of coolant in an engine, or managing the temperature of hydraulic fluid in an HPU, mixing valves are essential in optimizing performance and ensuring reliability.

Christine Tarlecki is a marketing coordinator at ThermOmegaTech. Edited by Chris Vavra, senior editor, WTWH Media, cvavra@wtwhmedia.com.

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Author Bio: Christine Tarlecki works in marketing at ThermOmegaTech in Bucks County, PA. She has over 20 years of professional writing experience, with over five years as a professional writer in the manufacturing and plumbing & HVAC industries.