Valves for Hydropower

Valves for Hydropower

One way of producing electricity is through hydropower, which is installing dams on rivers that have a large drop in elevation—the dam stores lots of water behind it in a reservoir. Near the bottom of the dam wall, there is a water intake. Gravity causes it to fall through a penstock inside the dam. At the end of the penstock, a turbine propellor turns by the moving water. The shaft from the turbine goes up into the generator, which produces the power. Power lines connect the generator to the electric distribution system.

Electricity demand is not constant. Requirements go up and down during the day. Overnight there is less need for electricity in homes, businesses, and other facilities. Hydroelectric plants are more efficient at providing peak power demands during short periods than fossil-fuel and nuclear power plants. One way of doing that is by using "pumped storage", which reuses the same water more than once.

Pumped storage is a method of keeping water in reserve for peak period power demands by pumping water that has already flowed through the turbines back up a reservoir above the power plant when customer demand for energy is low, such as during the middle of the night. The water is then allowed to flow back through the turbine-generators when demand is high and the system is under heavy load.

The reservoir acts much like a battery, storing power in the water when demands are low and producing maximum power during daily and seasonal peak periods. An advantage of pumped storage is that hydroelectric generating units can start up quickly and make rapid output adjustments.

The Hydro/Dam Industry demands can take a toll on valves not up to the job of using the power of moving waters to generate electricity. Val-Matic has several Quarter-Turn and Check Valves that can meet these demands. Quarter-Turn valves such as QuadroSphere® Ball Valves, Ener•G® Ball Valves, and American-BFV® Butterfly Valves are available in a wide range of sizes and pressure classes. The QuadroSphere® has additional flow paths and a seat that is contact minimized for reduced wear and operating torques. Val-Matic's Surgebuster® Check Valve, Tilted Disc® Check Valve, and Swing Check Valve have features and designs to prevent slamming, reduce headloss and provide significant pumping cost savings.

Automatic Controls of Virginia
(804) 752-1000 

Pneumatic and Electric Valve Actuators, Limit Switches, and Controls

Pneumatic and Electric Valve Actuators, Limit Switches, and Controls

The ability to combine the industry's top electric, pneumatic and hydraulic valve actuators with its in-house machine shop and fabrication division, Automatic Controls of Virginia has a massive advantage over other valve companies regarding design, fabrication, assembly, and installation of any valve actuation/automation project. 

This advantage, along with five decades of challenging application experience, makes Automatic Controls a clear choice to be your valve automation partner.

Automatic Controls of Virginia
(804) 752-1000 

SmartStep™ Precision Electric Actuators

SmartStep™ precision electric actuators are available in 500, 1200, 2500, and 5000 in-lbs outputs.

Additional SmartStep™ Key Features:

  • Hazardous Location Rating is standard: Class 1, Division II, Group A, B, C, and D
  • Non-Contact Position Sensing: No mechanical switches to wear out
  • Capacitor Based Electronic Power Backup: Allowing for backup lifespan of greater than 10 years
  • Customizable Speed Settings: Each model may be customized to fit your Open/Close speed needs
    • X0500: 3-10 seconds for 90° rotation
    • X1200: 7-20 seconds for 90° rotation
    • X2500: 12-36 seconds for 90° rotation
    • X5000: 28-80 seconds for 90° rotation
  • Programmable Feedback Standard: 4-20mA feedback allows remote reading of exact position of the actuator shaft
  • High Number of Starts Per Hour: Can exceed 6000 starts per hour
  • Permanently Lubricated Drivetrain: No maintenance needed
  • 100% Modulation Standard: 4-20mA or 0-10V DC control input standard
For assistance in specifying and applying SmartStep™ precision electric actuators contact Automatic Controls of Virginia. Call them at 804-752-1000 or visit

Automated Monitoring, Performance Diagnosis, and Configuration of Industrial Valves

Valve Monitoring

As corporations worldwide are increasingly concentrating on their bottom-line margins, there is an increased drive towards efficiency and productivity in industrial operations. Operators are also looking to respond to industry concerns about aging assets. All manufacturing activities are continually motivated to improve performance and productivity to boost profit margins and optimize bottom-line returns. This drive takes place in many industry sectors against a backdrop of increased health, safety, and environmental issues and the need to make changes to old assets that can sometimes run beyond their original design lifespan.

Reducing the number of unscheduled plant shutdowns is an essential way of fulfilling these targets. Unplanned shutdowns are mostly related to worn-out machinery and are attributable to exceeding process equipment's longevity in many instances. Operators may avoid expensive shutdowns and increase production uptime with a regular maintenance schedule and a condition monitoring solution that minimizes maintenance spending and improves plant safety. Asset tracking, asset management, and predictive maintenance solutions are, therefore, becoming increasingly common.

Valve Condition Monitoring's goal is to detect and prevent possible failures before causing unsafe conditions and unplanned downtimes.

Since valves are a critical component of any flow-based operation, valve efficiency is an essential factor to check when trying to avoid unplanned maintenance, or worse, shutdowns of plants and the resulting loss of batch output.

Although some operators already deploy condition monitoring on control valves and critical valves, many valves are often left unmonitored, particularly those used for on / off and shutdown applications. Although the technology for controlling these valves is available, operators are discouraged from such an investment because of the prohibitive hardware and installation cost. 

Although some valve manufacturers have touted various valve testing and monitoring systems, many proposed solutions can pose operational, financial, and technical implementation problems. This is because they are usually considerably more expensive than conventional methods or require new electrical systems and hardware to accommodate and enhance the monitoring software. Suppose automation is fundamental, such as that needed with on/off valves. In that case, the transformation is relatively low in value. This way, the time and resources involved in implementing a useful monitoring solution can be challenging to justify. However, the consequence is that vast numbers of on/off valves are not supervised and pose a significant risk of valve failure.

By implementing this technology cost-effectively on all automatic valves, a plant will provide production efficiency and avoid unspecified delays and unsafe conditions. Valve Condition Monitoring is useful to all operating phases of the plant and thus provides the ability to increase all current and future installations' performance and safety.

If you are considering updating your plant's valve monitoring strategy, contact a local expert who can guide you through all the ups and downs. The information they provide is truly invaluable. 

Automatic Controls of Virginia
(804) 752-1000 

Extremely Rugged, Hazardous Area Pressure Switch - The 6900GE from Custom Control Sensors (CCS DualSnap)

The Custom Control Sensors hazardous location 6900GE Series is the most popular, all-around, all-aluminum gage pressure switch. The series is UL/CSA explosion proof, Class I, Groups A, B, C and D, and Class II Groups E, F and G certified. NEMA 4X and IP66 rating is optimum for wet conditions.

It is designed with high vibration and shock resistance utilizing Dual Snap® disc spring technology ensuring high accuracy and repeatability. It comes with high over-pressure capabilities and still relatively compact in size to conveniently mount on panels. It meets the demand for all applications commercial, industrial and otherwise. 

6900GE Industrial Applications Include:

  • Oil & Gas
  • Power Generation
  • Fluid Management
  • Chemical Refining and Processing
  • Manufacturing Process
  • Utilities, Water Treatment and Waste
  • Safety Systems

For more information about CCS DualSnap products, contact Automatic Controls of Virginia. Call them at 804-752-1000 or visit their website at