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Improving valve life in spray down areas with Bürkert ELEMENT valves

Bürkert’s range of innovative ELEMENT valves are designed to perform better and for longer in spray down areas, making them the ideal choice for food and beverage applications. Mark Lilley, Field Segment Manager, .hygienic – Food and Beverage, explains the features and benefits of this IP65/IP67 certified series of valves.

IP67 certified ELEMENT valves from Bürkert

Bürkert ELEMENT valves benefit from a dual IP65/IP67 rating. That’s particularly useful for dairies because they often hose everything down with a jet wash, which used to cause problems. On a valve you’ve got an actuator with a piston in it and on one side of the piston is a spring. You open the valve with compressed air, which compresses the spring.

When you close the valve, the spring side of the valve sucks in atmospheric air. If that atmospheric air is wet, because the area has been jet washed or detergents have been used, then that all gets into the spring side of the piston. Over a period of months, the steel spring starts to corrode. Sooner or later the spring then fails. This is a common problem for every valve manufacturer.

If you’ve got a valve that is sitting in a washdown area and it’s not one of ours, then typically they’re likely to be suffering ongoing issues through contamination or corrosion. This is where Bürkert ELEMENT valves have the advantage. A lot of it has to do with the materials the valve is made from. We use stainless steel and plastic, which won’t corrode.

ELEMENT valves employ unique ‘air refresh system’

Bürkert came up with the idea of developing an ‘air refresh system’, which is unique to ELEMENT. The big difference between an ELEMENT valve and anyone else’s valves is that there are no external piston tubes. Normally, our competitors have an actuator with a control head on top. You feed your air supply into the control head, because that’s where the pilot valve is, then the air has to come out via a pneumatic tube back into the actuator. Therefore, you always have these tubes on the outside.

We designed our Bürkert ELEMENT actuator so that the pneumatic tubing was rooted inside the actuator. Therefore, there’s no external tubing. When you open the valve, the air comes down through the control head, under the piston and pushes the piston up (if it’s a normally closed valve). It compresses the spring and the valve opens. When the valve closes, you exhaust the air from underneath the piston. At the same time, you need to add air to the spring side. Normally, with competitor valves, that gets sucked in from the atmosphere.

What Bürkert does differently is we use some of the air that was underneath the piston and route that on to the spring side. Therefore, the spring only sees the air that was used to open and close the valve. That compressed air is clean and dry, so the spring isn’t exposed to any moisture. That means that there is no corrosion taking place on the spring side of the actuator.

Interchangeable and modular ELEMENT valves

We also put a slight over-pressure of a couple of psi inside the switchbox. This means that when someone comes along with a jet wash, moisture isn’t going to get into the switchbox and cause any issues with the electrical components. If the pressure gets too high, a pressure relief valve vents it. The upshot of all of this is that we can offer IP67 rated valves that can be sprayed down with water.

It’s another thing that adds to the cleanliness of the design. You’re not allowing atmosphere into the valve, so it’s a completely sealed item. It’s also completely stainless and features our innovative LED display for quick and easy diagnostics.

We also have versions that can deal with hazardous areas, such as ATEX areas where solvents are being used. All you do is remove the on-off controller and put a positioner on, then you have a control valve. All of our Bürkert ELEMENT valves are interchangeable and modular, which makes them very user-friendly and easy to understand.

For more information about Bürkert ELEMENT valves, or to discuss your application requirements in more detail, please contact our sales team today on +44 (0) 1285 648 720 or email sales.uk@burkert.com.

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