Skip to content

What’s the Role of Plate Valves in Compressors?

Plate valves play an important role in compressors and the overall manufacturing process. Read more to find all the details.

What's the Role of Plate Valves in Compressors? - KB Delta

The optimal performance of a reciprocating compressor is closely associated with the operation of its valves, especially in terms of efficiency and life. Many manufacturing industries have the reciprocating compressor as the backbone of their operations. This shows that they do not joke with compressor valve plates for several aspects of product creation.

What are plate valves, and what is their primary role in reciprocating compressors? This is what you are about to find out.


What are Plate Valves in Compressors?

In compressors, the plate valve – or valve plate refers to the flat or nearly flat material that makes up the valve assembly. This material must be strong and durable, resistant to pressure, heat, and corrosion in many cases.

Some valves can be automatically activated via significant changes in pressure within a machine’s setup. Other valves can also be manually operated by a pedal, lever, or handle. Whatever the case, especially in compressors, plate valves must be resilient, rugged, and non-corroding. This is due to its frequent exposure to varying temperatures and pressures.

Of course, a valve is nothing more than a device that readily adjusts gas or fluid flow within a system. It works by closing, opening, or partially blocking the passageway in the exact spot it is located.

Here are 4 industries that rely heavily on the performance of valve plates within reciprocating compressors:


  1. Hydrogen Stations
  2. Petroleum Refining Industry
  3. Natural Gas Industry
  4. Petrochemicals Industry


Examples of some processes within these top industries that use reciprocating compressors extensively include:


  • Processing
  • Extraction of natural gases
  • Fueling generators and energy cells
  • Manufacturing
  • Refining of synthetic or natural materials
  • Distilling liquids and gases
  • Compression as well as storage of gases, etc.


It is imperative to use the most suitable compressor valve plates in every case. This ensures that the materials are adequately compressed while the valve plates withstand all the elements they are constantly exposed to.


Valve Design

Metals are used in compressor valve plate design for the most part. Although these metals are somewhat inexpensive, they are durable enough to capably withstand high impacts over an extended period. They are also unaffected by temperature or pressure.

Nevertheless, concerns about corrosion are profound, especially as newer fluids are developed. It has also become crucial or of greatest importance to only use materials that will never react to the several chemicals that pass through the reciprocating compressor.

When metallic compressor valve plates corrode, it results in chipping and fracture. Even if you can make an unplanned replacement of a fractured plate valve, the metal debris that comes off the plate may find its way elsewhere within the system, causing additional untold damage.

It is now apparent that metal valve plates don’t perform remarkably well with ingress. Grit or pieces of dirt – which are mostly unavoidable in many industrial applications – can somehow get lodged inside the equipment. This is because the metal plate will not absorb the particles into itself or yield them.

After in-depth research, polymers are now the go-to materials for making compressor valve plates. The benefits of using polymers as the source materials for making plate valves are now apparent as they include:


  • Better lubrication
  • Sufficient impact strength
  • Ingress is often absorbed right into the material
  • Inexpensive and lightweight
  • Excellent resistance to chemicals as well as temperatures as high as 120 degrees Celsius.
  • Managing debris that finds its way into the equipment is now easier.


However, despite the benefits of using polymers for making plate valves, other issues have also reared their ugly heads. This makes manufacturers not rest on their oars as they search for better valve plate material replacement.

Soon enough, PEEK (Poly Ether Ether Ketone) was discovered. This is a durable, high-performance thermoplastic with excellent water and chemical resistance. It is not affected by non-stop exposure to steam or hot water. It has an impressive temperature stability of almost 300 degrees Celsius.

These properties make PEEK an excellent choice for making compressor valve plates.


The Role of Compressor Valve Plates

The role of compressor valve plates varies from one industry to another. Let’s highlight these roles in every top industry mentioned earlier.


  • Hydrogen Stations

Hydrogen fuel cells are cleaner and cheaper energy sources, hence the emergence of compressed hydrogen stations in several modern technologies. Compressed hydrogen is often used in manufacturing pharmaceuticals, vehicles, metals, electronics, foods, etc.

When hydrogen is compressed, it can reach an exceedingly high rate. Compressor valve plates used in this industry must be tough enough to withstand this extremely high pressure.


  • Petroleum Refining Industry

Compressors are used for distilling petroleum and creating pressure during the refining process. At a point, it becomes essential to increase the pressure on liquids and gases. This causes different molecules to react at different pressures chemically. Compressors help facilitate this process.

Increasing the pressure allows some elements to condense and purify the petroleum. Pressure is also used extensively for packing and storing the product.

The valve plates used in this case must be able to withstand incredibly high pressures with zero leakages. They must also be capable of withstanding potentially corrosive gases that move through them.


  • Natural Gas Industry

In this industry, the role of compressor valve plates is to extract natural gases from the Earth. They are also used for refining gases in order to eliminate impurities and pack the gases for transportation.

The valve plates used in this industry must be capable of withstanding the impact of rough materials. They must also be designed and able to withstand the harmful impacts of these materials.


  • Petrochemicals Industry

Petrochemicals are those products obtained from petroleum during refining. As soon as products are separated from one another, compressor valve plates come into play. They work by measuring and storing the correct amount of aromatic petrochemicals and olefins. This makes it possible to transport the products safely to a facility where they can undergo numerous processing into final products.


Maintenance and Prevention of Valve Failure

Faulty valves can cause a lot of damage to a reciprocating compressor. This is why the following maintenance procedures will help prevent valve failure:


  • Keep all valves clean and free of debris or dirt
  • Use valves only as directed by the manufacturer
  • Lubricate valves for efficient operation
  • Replace all defective valves as soon as they are discovered in order to prevent additional and more expensive damage to the compressor.


If you follow these maintenance procedures, your compressor valve plates – and other valves in the system – are guaranteed to work optimally. You will experience fewer downtimes and increased productivity.


Plate Valves Conclusion

The importance of valve plates in compressors cannot be overstated. It plays a crucial role in many industries, including refining or storing materials, processing raw materials, or manufacturing a wide variety of goods. These industries make daily use of reciprocating compressors to achieve the results they are looking for.

Therefore, the primary use of compressor valve plates is varied but vital to the continuation of modern-day industries.



Posted in