Valves: Block, remote, automatic – which is best?


There are three basic types of valves found in pipelines: manual valves, remotely controlled valves (RCVs), and automatic shutoff valves (ASVs). The manual valves needs direct manpower to shut off valves on location. The remotely controlled valves can be turned off from an offsite control room. Lastly, the automatic shutoff valves are valves that can shutoff automatically without human assistance when the pipe malfunctions. These types of valves have been put on the spotlight when different types of pipelines encountered problems like leakages which resulted to massive damages to infrastructure, environment, and people. The San Bruno tragedy (a natural gas pipeline ruptured which caused lives and property to be lost) pushed National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to recommend the installation of automated valves on natural gas pipelines but it authorized the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the industry operators to further study which type of valve is most effective. Their study resulted in diverse opinions which boiled down to the fact that there are no hard and fast rules on which valve (ASVs or RCVs) is better because several factors need to be considered including the pipeline system, operator training and the topography. Looking for the best type of valves and developing the best regulations for ensuring everyone’s safety is still a work in progress. For the full article, click here

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