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Compressor Valve Types and Other Valves Related to Reciprocating Compressors

There are many different compressor valve types each with a unique design and purpose. Let’s learn more about them and other related valves.Compressor Valve Types - KB Delta

Compressors are devices that develop potential energy stored within pressurized gas from fluid or electricity. They work by moving gas, liquid, or air through a machine’s components. Compressors generally have cylinder chambers with pistons that move back and forth or up and down even as the crankshaft turns.

The up-and-down movement of the piston changes the pressure housed within the cylinder such that compressor valves open and close. This action moves the fluid through a cylinder and right into other components of the machine. A gas compressor has several crucial parts, though the most important ones are the valves.

Compressor valves are responsible for controlling the flow of fluid through the machine. They can easily get damaged or worn. Therefore, it is highly imperative to keep them in excellent working order via regular maintenance. This helps the compressor valves to work without breakdowns or interruptions.

Every manufacturer of natural gas compressors in the United States wants compressor valves to remain as efficient as possible in order to keep the entire unit operational.

You will discover the different compressor valve types available today, as well as the purpose for which they were created.


What Are Compressor Valves?

Compressor valves are components designed to control pressure flows of reciprocating compressor cylinders. Several types of compressor valves exist, including varied specifications. However, this depends significantly on the primary function they are designed to serve.

Compressor valves provide a wide variety of functions, including:


  • Controlling the overall direction of flow in a piping system.
  • Stopping or starting the flow of fluid based on the state of the valve.
  • Boosting safety by alleviating vacuum or pressure within a piping system.
  • Regulating pressure and flow in a piping system.
  • Checking flow rates in a piping system.


Types of Compressor Valves

Several types of compressor valves exist and are used in the day-to-day operations of a compressor. However, there are basically 3 types of compressor valves, each one designed for a specific purpose. They are:


  1. The plate compressor valve
  2. The high-flow compressor valve
  3. The radiused disc compressor valve


Let’s take a look at each compressor valve type one after the other, shall we?


1. The plate compressor valve

The plate compressor valve is specifically designed to withstand dirty gas and high-pressure applications. The plate valve has 2 primary components within it – i.e., the valve disk and dampening disk.

Since plate valves are vital in dirty gas applications, the valve disk is resistant to these gases’ particles. Any time the valve disk seals, the gases accelerate in short order.

On the other hand, the secondary dampening disk takes on the full force of the impact the acceleration causes. The secondary dampening disk also curtails the wear on the valve disk over time.


2. The high-flow compressor valve

High-flow compressor valves are usually employed in situations where liquid – as well as other debris types – are present in the gas being utilized. The special V-shaped disk rings help to boost gas flow.

This particular shape also helps in repelling every undesirable particle present in the gas. This action keeps the disk rings cleaner, thereby guaranteeing a much better seal with every cycle.

The buttons and springs that high-flow compressor valves showcase are arranged to open and close the valves in a perfect rhythm easily.


3. The radiused disc compressor valves

This compressor valve is usually employed when pressure levels are over 400 bar/6000 psi, and temperatures are up to 200 degrees Celsius/390 degrees Fahrenheit.

Radiused disk compressor valves are usually made from thermoplastics and comprise several concentric rings. They undergo heat treatment in order to gain the ability to withstand the high temperature to which they will eventually be exposed.

Radiused disk compressor valves are also designed in such a way that they perfectly align with the valve seats. This enables the valves to create seals without a single flaw.


Other Valve Types Related

The ones above may be the major compressor valve types, but there are other types of valves in and around reciprocating compressors or found at a natural gas compressor station.

Here they are in no particular order:


Ball valve

Ball valves come heavily equipped with fast-acting 90-degree turn handles. This compressor valve type works by using a ball to check flow in order to provide seamless on-off control.

Many operators believe that ball valves are much easier to operate – and faster – than gate valves (defined later in this post).


Plug valve

Plug valves use fast-acting quarter-turn handles to control flow, thanks to cylindrical or tapered plugs. When tight shutoff is highly essential, you can rely heavily on plug valves. This is why they are known to provide excellent ratings.

Plug valves are also incredibly reliable in high-temperature or high-pressure environments.


Needle valve

The needle compressor valve is generally employed within small diameter piping systems. They are the best choice when an accurate, fine flow is highly required or needed.

The needle valve earned its name from the point on the conical disk that functions within the system.


Knife gate valve

The knife gate valve is typically used for modulating the flow of media that contain solids. This valve – which features a thin gate that linear action controls – can easily cut through several materials and end up creating a seal.

Knife gate valves are not too suitable for high-pressure applications. But they are highly appropriate for use with paper pulp, grease, slurry, oils, wastewater, as well as other media, which may hinder the smooth operation of other compressor valve types.


Pressure relief valve

Pressure relief valves are spring-automated and commonly employed to boost safety. They are designed to restore a specific system to the desired pressure level all through over-pressure events.


Globe valve

This compressor type is mostly applied in regulating control operations. Gate valves are available in 3 body types:


  • T-body
  • Angle body
  • Y-Pattern


Butterfly valve

This valve is a swift-acting rotary motion valve that works perfectly only in tight spaces. This is possible due to its wafer-type design.

Butterfly compressor valve bodies come in several different configurations and are used accordingly.


Gate valve

Gate valve is one of the most common compressor types today. It uses linear motion to start or stop the flow of fluid.

Gate valves are not often employed to regulate flow but are typically used in closed or fully open positions.


Pinch valve

The pinch valve is the best choice for handling solid materials, slurries, and even liquids that flow through with suspended solids.

Pinch valves utilize a linear motion and often feature internal sleeves in order to isolate the media.


Check valve

The check valve is a self-activated structure employed for preventing backflow. The valve opens automatically when fluid or media passes through within the intended direction and closes immediately if there is a reverse flow.



As you can see, these are some of the numerous types of compressor valves that compressors utilize every day. Finding the ideal compressor valve for your compressor shouldn’t be too challenging despite the multiple options available.

This is true if you consider the valve size, valve design, as well as actuation method. This helps limit those options that enable you to determine the best compressor valve types suitable for your needs.



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