Ball Valve

Ball Valve

Valves are mechanical devices used in both residential plumbing and industrial processes to control the flow of fluids. One such basic valve used in numerous applications for on/off services is the ball valve.

When it comes to selection for valves for simple applications like shut off or isolation in pipeline systems, a valve with a basic and robust design is preferred. Due to its simple design and ability to perform quick opening and closing operations, ball valves perform exceptionally well in emergency operations.

So, in this article, let’s discuss about ball valve in detail and find out how it works, the classification of ball valves, advantages, disadvantages, and a wide range of applications.


What Is A Ball Valve?

A ball valve is a basic shut-off valve that is used to regulate the flow of liquid or gas by simply rotating a rotary ball at an angle of 90° in order to achieve a quick operation time. Unlike other valves, the ball valve does not have a handwheel but is operated by wrench levers.

It is considered as an inexpensive alternative to other valves, which are most suitable for use in general working media such as water, solvents, acids, and natural gas. They also outperform most other valves even in the polluted media environment.

Construction and Working of Ball Valve

A ball valve is primarily comprised of the following components: valve body, valve seat, rotary ball, valve stem, and an operating handle (manual or automatic). The rotary ball has a hole bored through the center and is guarded between two seats inside the valve body.

The hole of the rotary ball is usually of the same diameter as the pipe, although it can be smaller. The valve can be turned using the operating handle on the valve stem, which is attached to the ball.

Full operation of the ball valve is by a quarter-turn (90°) rotation of the operating handle, often horizontally. Most ball valve manufacturers provide durable sealing capable of providing a drop-tight seal.

Classification Of Ball Valve

The ball valves can efficiently operate in-service temperatures ranging from 450° to 500° F (270° to 260°C). The service temperatures of 1000° F (538° C) or even higher are possible with certain sealing materials like graphite.

Classification as per Body Configuration

  • Top entry ball valve
  • Side entry ball valve
  • Split body ball valve
  • Welded body ball valve

Classification as per Housing Assembly

  • One-piece ball valve
  • Two-piece ball valve
  • Three-piece ball valve

Classification as per bore profile

  • Reduced bore ball valve
  • Full bore ball valve
  • V-shaped ball valve

Classification as per Ball support

  • Floating ball valve
  • Trunnion mounted ball valve
  • Orbit ball valve

Some other types of ball valves

  • Cavity filler ball valve
  • Vented ball valve
  • Multiport ball valve

Ball Valve: Technical Specifications

Although ball valves have size limitations and are primarily available in smaller sizes, some ball valve manufacturers have unique designs available up to DN 1200.

The ball valves can efficiently operate in-service temperatures ranging from 450° to 500° F (270° to 260°C). The service temperatures of 1000° F (538° C) or even higher are possible with certain sealing materials like graphite.

• Size Range : Standard up to DN300

• Class Range : BS5351 / ANSI B16.34 / ISO 17292 / PN 20 - 420

• Design Standard : ASTM A351 Gr. CF8M/ ASTM A182 Gr. F316/ ASTM A182 Gr. F304

• End Connection : Flanged; BW; Threaded

• Valve Body Material : Carbon Steel / Stainless Steel / Brass / PVC

• Stem Material : ASTM A479 Type 316

• Seat Material : PTFE/ RPTFE/ Special filled PTFE/ PEEK

• Seal : PTFE / RPTFE / Special filled PTFE / Graphite

Advantages of Ball Valve

While various ball valve manufacturers may use some distinct features in their design, the basic remains the same. It is the basic design of the valve which has the following advantages:

  • Simple construction, compact design, and lightweight.
  • Cheap and easy installation.
  • Quick operation of the valve due to quarter-turn (90°) movement from fully close to fully open.
  • Very little resistance to flow in the fully open position.
  • Minimal pressure drop when the valve is in its full-open position.
  • In place, disassembly and maintenance are possible.
  • Long service life and reliable sealing over the life span.

Suitable for fluids with floating particles as the operation of valve has wiping effect.

Disadvantages of Ball Valve

There are certain limitations to the use of ball valve, which includes

  • Throttling operation of the valve is not recommended.
  • Trapped fluids like water inside the center cavity of the ball in a closed position may damage the valve if it freezes.
  • Not suitable for application in slurry fluids.

Applications Of Ball Valve

Ball valves have a wide of applications from domestic to industrial uses. Some applications include

  • In-line flow and pressure control and shut-off operation of various liquids and gases.
  • The quick operation of the ball valve makes it ideal for use in systems where emergency operation is required.
  • Used in many hydrocarbon process applications like the oil and natural gas industry
  • Other applications include manufacturing sectors, chemical storage, and even residential uses.
  • Ball valves are often used in control systems for shut-off operations.

Guide / Tips For Ball Valve Selection

Here is a basic guide / tips for easy reference to the consumers while selecting the ball valve.

  • Choose a full bore, fully welded ball valve for oil and natural gas pipelines, as well as pipes that require cleaning and are buried underground.
  • For the pipeline and storage equipment of product oil, a flanged ball valve is highly preferred.
  • In a gas pipeline system, a trunnion-mounted ball valve with a flange connection is recommended.
  • Low-temperature ball valves with enlarged bonnets should be used in low-temperature media piping systems.
  • A rising stem-type ball valve may be used in the pipeline system of the catalytic cracking device of the oil refining equipment.
  • It is suitable to use a full stainless steel ball valve in the equipment and piping system of corrosive media such as acid and alkali in the chemical system.
  • Metal-to-metal sealed ball valves are preferred in metallurgical, electric power, petrochemical, and high-temperature medium pipe systems and devices.
  • A worm gear drive, pneumatic or electric adjustment ball valve with a V-shaped orifice may be used for applications where flow adjustments are required.


As discussed in the article, ball valves have a wide range of applications due to their compact design, cost-effectiveness, and quick operation. In addition, most ball valve manufacturer characterizes their product with long service life and reliable sealing.

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