A ball valve is a type of valve that uses a hollow, pivoting ball to control the flow of a medium through itself. If the hole of the ball is in line with the flow, the valve is open, and it is closed when the valve handle has been used to pivot the ball ninety degrees.
The main function of a ball valve is to isolate parts of a plumbed system by starting, stopping, or adjusting the flow of a medium (usually water, air, or gas) between separate chambers, ducts, and pipes. This is achieved by either allowing the medium to pass freely through the ball valve, partially admitting the medium through a narrowed opening, or blocking the flow completely. Ball valves can also be used to divert flow into different directions, depending on the valve type and handle position.
Ball valves offer operational simplicity, quick repair, and a high level of versatility. This means that they are extensively used in industrial applications and able to support pressures up to 1,000 bar (100 MPa, or 15,000 psi) and temperatures up to 400°C (752°F), depending on the material, medium, and design used.
These components are typically chosen for applications where on or off are the key positions required. The design of ball valves means that they inherently provide a reliable shut-off function, provided all components are in good working order. However, they are often less effective at accurately controlling flow rates at graduated positions in between fully open and fully closed.
Ball valves are most commonly found in plumbing systems and related applications such as industrial cooling. Their role is generally to help manage the flow rate of liquid or gas passing through a specific port or opening, influencing the balance of pressure in other key parts of the system.
They are also familiar features in various types of tap, faucet, and spigot, as well as being widely used on gas lines, domestic appliances, and additional industrial applications. In most cases, ball valves for industrial use tend to be more heavy-duty and robust in construction than their domestic counterparts. They are typically found in applications where machines or systems operate under significantly higher pressures and temperatures, within industries as diverse as manufacturing, assembly and production, plastics and metals, chemical, medical, industrial power, food and beverages, printing and textiles, electronics, automotive, and logistics.
Several different types of ball valves exist, each suited to varying applications. The types available include manual ball valves, process ball valves, and pneumatic ball valves.