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What is a solenoid valve and how does it work?

As a leading solenoid valve manufacturer, Bürkert knows more than most about how a solenoid valve works. Which is why we have set out to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about how solenoid valves function, common solenoid valve applications and how to replace solenoid valves.

What is a solenoid valve?

The definition of a solenoid valve is an electro-mechanical valve that is commonly employed to control the flow of liquid or gas. There are various solenoid valve types, but the main variants are either pilot operated or direct acting. Pilot operated valves, the most widely used, utilise system line pressure to open and close the main orifice in the valve body. 

While Direct operated solenoid valves directly open or close the main valve orifice, which is the only flow path in the valve. They are used in systems requiring low flow capacities or applications with low pressure differential across the valve orifice.

How solenoid valves function

How a solenoid valve works is by controlling the flow of liquids or gases in a positive, fully-closed or fully-open mode. They are often used to replace manual valves or for remote control. Solenoid valve function involves either opening or closing an orifice in a valve body, which either allows or prevents flow through the valve. A plunger opens or closes the orifice by raising or lowering within a sleeve tube by energising the coil.

Solenoid valves consist of a coil, plunger and sleeve assembly. In normally closed valves, a plunger return spring holds the plunger against the orifice and prevents flow. Once the solenoid coil is energised, the resultant magnetic field raises the plunger, enabling flow. When the solenoid coil is energised in a normally open valve, the plunger seals off the orifice, which in turn prevents flow.

Why is a solenoid valve used?

In most flow control applications, it is necessary to start or stop the flow in the circuit to control the fluids in the system. An electronically operated solenoid valve is usually used for this purpose. By being solenoid actuated, solenoid valves can be positioned in remote locations and may be conveniently controlled by simple electrical switches.

Solenoid valves are the most frequently used control elements in fluidics. They are commonly used to shut off, release, dose, distribute or mix fluids. For that reason, they are found in many application areas. Solenoids generally offer fast and safe switching, long service life, high reliability, low control power and compact design.

Where is a solenoid valve used?

Solenoid valve applications include a broad range of industrial settings, including general on-off control, plant control loops, process control systems and various original equipment manufacturer applications, to name but a few.

Solenoid valves can be found in many different sectors, including:

  • Water supply
  • Treatment of drinking water
  • Waste water treatment
  • Purification/ treatment of grey and black water
  • Machine and plant engineering
  • Cooling, lubrication and dosing
  • Building services
  • Large heating systems, climate control
  • Safety engineering
  • Water mains protection and fire extinguishing systems
  • Compressors
  • Pressure relief and drainage
  • Fuel supply
  • Transport and tank facilities
  • Firing systems
  • Oil and gas burner control
  • Gas chromatography
  • Gas mixture regulation
  • Blood analysis instruments
  • Control of cleaning processes

How to replace solenoid valves

For correct and accurate control functioning, solenoid valves must be configured and selected according to the particular application at hand. The most important parameters for selecting a solenoid control valve are the Kv value (given in cubic meters per hour) and the application’s pressure range.

The lower the valve’s orifice, or the stronger the coil, the higher the pressure the valve can shut-off. On the basis of the calculated Kv value, and the pressure range of the planned application, a correspondingly appropriate valve type and its required orifice can be determined.

What is a NAMUR solenoid valve?

NAMUR is an acronym for the User Association of Automation Technology in Process Industries, which serves as a standard for automated valve technology. Standard interfaces are useful for actuator mountings because they help to keep solenoid manufacturing and installation costs down. Bürkert has a wide selection of NAMUR solenoid valves available to purchase. Visit our website today to browse our complete range of solenoid valves.

Where to buy a solenoid valve

Bürkert valves can be found in virtually every industry. From welding robots to waterworks, from dust removal in mining operations to cabin pressure control in aircraft – everything is possible with our valves as a reliable component in your system. Whether you need a single valve, valve blocks or customised solutions, our entire product line is oriented toward ensuring controlled handling of liquids and gases.

Our products are designed to deliver:

  • High flexibility due to modular design
  • Diverse choice of materials
  • High reliability and long service life
  • Low environmental impact

Purchase high quality solenoid valves at the Burkert eShop today. Or, for further information, please call us on +44 1285 648 720, email sales.uk@burkert.com or fill in our contact form.

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