What is a Back Pressure Regulator?

A back pressure regulator is a type of control valve designed to hold pressure on oil and gas production vessels such as separators, treaters, and free water knockouts.

Invention of the Back Pressure Regulator

The Kimray Back Pressure Regulator was our original valve, and it remains our most popular. Kimray founder Garman O. Kimmell created this product in 1948. Up to that point, oil and gas producers had to supervise their wells and adjust back pressure by hand to keep production running.

Garman’s new invention isolated the operation of the valve from the sensing point of the pressure upstream or downstream. This meant producers could more accurately control their pressure across a variety of flows using the regulator.

How Does the Back Pressure Regulator Work?

A back pressure regulator holds pressure on oil and gas production vessels. When the valve achieves a specified set point, it releases excess pressure downstream.

The regulator is considered an “pilot-integrated valve.” This is because the pilot—the key to opening and closing the valve—is connected to the valve and comes out as one piece. This regulator monitors upstream pressure.

The adjustment bolt on top adjusts the set point. The spring pushes down on the diaphragm assembly, which positions the key to this integrated design: the pilot plug. The pilot plug then allows a small, precise amount of gas from upstream to push down on the diaphragm.

Flow through the regulator comes from comes under the plunger. This flow pushes up on the plunger as the gas pushes down on the diaphragm. Because the diaphragm has a larger surface area than the plunger, the same pressure can hold the valve in a closed position. This sets a constant back pressure and the valve will begin regulating the pressure.

If the pressure exceeds the set point, upstream pressure pushes up on the diaphragm assembly and closes off the pilot plug. The regulator then vents gas from the top of the diaphragm and regulates the upstream pressure.

High Pressure Back Pressure Regulator

Our original Back Pressure Regulator is the industry standard for holding back pressure of 300 PSI or less. However, if you need to hold back pressure above 300 PSI, our High Pressure Control Valve can be used in this application as well. This valve can be used in conjunction with a pressure pilot to provide control in pressures up to 4,000 PSI.

Other Resources

For more information on the Kimray Back Pressure Regulator, check out these videos:

Breck Swigart serves as a Product Manager at Kimray, and is responsible for Kimray’s line of pneumatic valves, pneumatic pilots, regulators and temperature controllers. He collaborates with Kimray’s engineering, manufacturing, and quality teams to optimize the performance of our products and make a difference for our customers.


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