What Causes a Frozen Valve?

A frozen valve can lead to significant production downtime and accompanying frustration for your oil and gas operation. 

In the video above, Chase explains why valves freeze and tells you how to prevent freezing.  

What Causes a Frozen Valve?

The primary reason valves freeze is due to pressure drops in the gas flowing through them. The “Joule-Thomson Effect” states that for every 100 psi cut across a valve, the gas experiences a temperature drop of 6-8 degrees (F).

What is JT Effect?

All gas carries some element of moisture in it. This means that when your operation includes significant pressure drops, you need to be aware of the potential for freezing. This is even more likely when ambient temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

How Can You Prevent a Frozen Valve?

To prevent freezing, some producers wrap their vulnerable valves with insulation and heat tape.

While it’s better than nothing, it’s also inefficient and messy.

To perform maintenance or repairs on the valve, you will have to cut away the tape and insulation to access it, and then replace the wrapping when you’re finished.

Other producers use methanol injection, which is expensive, valve insulation jackets, which do not provide significant protection of valve internals, and even steam, which causes premature deterioration of the seats and seals in the valve.  

A good alternative to these options is using a CATCO Catalytic Heater 

  • The CATCO provides a flameless heat. The heater’s surface reaches a maximum of 800°F and is approved for hazardous environments 
  • A hinge door provides operators with easy access for valve maintenance or repair 
  • and you can focus the CATCO’s radiant heat on the valve or pipeline 

To start the CATCO, you’ll connect supply gas and electric power. These create the required chemical reaction to energize the internal electric heating elements. Once energized, you can remove the electric power and the heater will run on clean supply gas.  

To talk to an expert about getting a CATCO heater for your operation, contact your local Kimray store or authorized distributor.


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