Valvestock, Pipe Center’s specialist industrial valves operation, has supplied three giant 48in butterfly valves for a new sustainable energy storage system at Tata Steel’s Port Talbot plant.

The system recovers coke oven gas (COG), a by-product of coke-making, for use as a fuel in the various iron and steelmaking processes at the site. Harnessing COG overcomes the need to import natural gas, saving the plant significant additional costs.

Tata Steel approached a number of potential suppliers in relation to the valve contract, and selected Valvestock following assessments of product quality and the standard of technical support.

Andrew Thomas, process specialist CAPL, who headed up the project for Tata Steel, said: “A key aspect of the project was to determine the most appropriate valve seal material. This required a great deal of research and discussion, and Valvestock’s experience and support in this area was paramount in ensuring the correct material was selected for the application.”

One of the valves provides a means of isolating an existing COG main, which was not possible previously. This main was then used to supply the new COG main via a Tee-piece. The other two valves are installed on the gas holder to control gas flow.

To comply with safety requirements and provide an additional level of resilience, the valves are equipped with different methods of actuation. One is electro-hydraulically operated while the other actuated by Nitrogen, providing an alternative means of isolation in the event of either power failure or loss of nitrogen supply.

Prior to delivery, detailed testing of the valves was carried out at manufacturer Pentair’s factory in France. Several joint inspection visits were made by the respective project managers from Tata Steel and Valvestock, to witness hydrostatic pressure testing on both sides of the valve paddles. Additional tests were carried out at Valvestock’s premises in Fareham, to witness operation of the valves once complete with actuators. 

Due to the harsh industrial and marine environment at the Port Talbot works, the valves were coated in a high specification paint to resist corrosion. Valvestock provided test certification on the material and process used, as part of the valve quality assurance (QA) package.

Following several month’s work, the project is now complete and has been successfully commissioned.

Andrew Thomas said: “I was very pleased with the service provided by Valvestock. They were responsive and answered every query and phone call, and changes to plans quickly accommodated. A lot of work was done to ensure the project was delivered on time and to specification. The Tata Steel operating team are very happy with the result.”

He added: “Valvestock are established suppliers to Tata Steel, however this was my first experience of working with the company. It is a fundamental truth that “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” I have say my first impression of Valvestock, its people and capabilities, was very positive.”