Feed Valve – the alternative to a load lock system

Friday July 4, 2014 08:33

ECN, the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands, has developed an innovative new patented technology called Feed Valve for the introduction of solids, liquids, gases and mixtures into flasks at pressures of up to about 50 bar and temperatures in excess of 200°C. It achieves this without loss of pressure or temperature and without purge gas contamination, which makes Feed Valve ideal for a wide range of industrial processes, such as placing pellets in an autoclave or retrieving a product without interrupting the process.

In high-pressure installations, Feed Valve provides a cost-effective alternative to the so-called load lock (an intermediate chamber between two seal valves, which alternates between atmospheric and working pressure). That safely introduces feedstock into a pressurised reactor, but is laborious to use because material can be left behind in the chamber and the lock repeatedly has to be purged with gas. By contrast, the Feed Valve mechanism from ECN requires no purging and does not interrupt the production process. In commercial situations, that could save millions of euros. Feed Valve allows for the introduction of exact quantities of feedstock without disrupting the pressurised system, and enables the easy retrieval of finished product in the same way. The filling process is simplified, the process is undisturbed and the risk of spills and gas leaks is eliminated.

The process
Feed Valve works as follows. A housing holds a large ball valve. On the process side is a piston. The liquid, solid or gas is fed into the receptacle in the valve. This is then rotated through 180 degrees, at which point the piston draws back and sucks the feedstock into the reaction chamber. The valve can then be rotated back to its original position and more material added straight away. And because the piston has sealed the opening in the valve at the end of its cycle, no process gas enters the space vacated by the feedstock.

Application of patented technology
“ECN has developed a prototype and patented the mechanism,” explains Marco Klitsie, Business Developer, Engineering and Services. “For the industrial application of Feed Valve, we are now looking for partners who recognise its potential for their systems. The mechanism can be tailored to all kinds of plants, such as coal gasifiers, freeze-drying units or dust-producing installations, such as filter systems.”

For more information about the Feed Valve technology, please contact Marco Klitsie of Business Development, ECN Engineering.

Category: Corporate, Engineering & materials