Frequently Asked Questions
Does PLEXIS make and sell (or intend to make and sell) valves?
No, we license our technology to established valve manufacturers in the hopes of getting our technology integrated into the widest possible variety of types and applications of valves that each distinct manufacturer specializes in. We don't even pretend to know every industry that our valve could be used in, but we do know that leak-proof valves can benefit almost every industry, and make the world better, safer, and more efficient. We want to make our technology broadly available to valve manufacturers that specialize in each industry.
What is the PLEXIS Valve's value proposition?
We have developed a pack-less, stem-less valve that cannot leak from its stem or actuator because there is no physical path from the inside to outside of the valve except for the threaded, soldered, welded, or brazed inlet and outlet pipe connections.
In general this technology allows valves or systems of valves to be built to any arbitrary reliability – say for example six sigma – because once the possibility of stem leaks has been eliminated, one can put multiple valve seats in series and boost reliability in a probabilistic manner.
Our technology is an improved magnetic valve actuator – We have four patents pending on it already – It magnetically couples the interior and exterior portions of the actuation system across a sealed or even hermetically sealed interface.
Our technology is an improvement over previous magnetic valve technologies because it can operate at higher temperatures, has a reduced chance of corrosion, has higher performance for a given size and cost, and is less likely to stick than previous magnetic valve actuation technologies.
These advantages allow us to offer high temperature valves, such as steam valves for example, and allow the valve body to be welded, brazed, or soldered shut in a hermetic manner, which is generally not possible with previous magnetic valve technologies.
We offer licensing arrangements to companies that already produce valves in order to dramatically improve the reliability and life expectancy of almost any rotary actuated valve. Long term, this helps the environment, improves valve safety, and actually saves money in terms of overall lower life cycle cost.
What types of valves is PLEXIS technology applicable to?
PLEXIS technology is predominately applicable to rotary actuated valves such as gate valves, ball valves, butterfly valves, and similar technologies.
It is applicable to both manual and automated or powered actuation of valves, and is applicable across a broad range of valve sizes from fractions of an inch (or centimeter) to large oil and gas pipeline valves.
It is applicable to threaded, brazed, soldered, and welded connections across a wide range of temperatures and operating environments.
What sizes of valves is PLEXIS valve technology applicable to?
PLEXIS technology is applicable across a broad range of valve sizes from fractions of an inch (or centimeter) valves, to multiple inch industrial process sized valves, on up to large oil and gas pipeline size valves.
In general, we feel that other technologies such as MEMS may be more advantageous for micro-valves (for example inside ink jet printers), and our magnetic actuation technology may take up too much space for some tiny precision needle valve type applications, but most other valve topologies could likely benefit from our sealed interface.
Most industrial sized valves from fractions of an inch to several feet or meter-class through passages could likely employ our technology with negligible or even no increase in size envelope due to the innovative ideas incorporated in our patent portfolio.
How many patents do you have for this technology?
We currently have 5 patents pending and we are working on more everyday. We intend to be a one stop shop for the very best magnetic valve actuation technology in the world, and have been working on this technology for over seven years now (nearly 21 years of combined magnetic valve experience across our core development team).
How can you be so confident in your guarantee of no leaks?
There is no stem or stem seal to leak, hence it can't happen. The rest is probabilistic; more valves can be put together in series to achieve a given desired reliability.
What are the available torque ranges of PLEXIS valve technology?
Torque can be delivered to a given valve actuation mechanism up to whatever level is needed (as specified a priori) to meet that particular application – There is no absolute limitation on design torque in and of itself (however a magnetic coupling is essentially always going to be a bit larger than a straight mechanical shaft and seal – for moderate torque manual applications, we try to stay within the size envelope encompassed by the handle – though that may not always be possible for very high torque applications). Our Trade space is basically as follows:
Maximum Torque that can be delivered by the Magnetic Coupling
Size / Diameter / Height of the Magnetic Coupling
(Primarily for size and grade of magnets employed in the Magnetic Coupling)
A Viscous Damping Coefficient
(due to several drag mechanisms within our coupling can be reduced somewhat via the use of composites and streamlined actuator shapes)
This will likely be significant for higher torque liquid handling valves with tight tolerances which are fairly necessary for higher torques. It is anticipated that these viscous type drag forces may be as large or larger than the friction of the valve stem seal in a traditional stem seal valve for higher torque applications. Maximum torque is pre-specified and baked into the design, the valve cannot be over-torqued using the stock actuator that comes with the valve. This has the benefit of protecting the seat and mechanism from over-torque damage. Unseating torque is usually specified as a bit higher than seating torque. A cheater handle can be provided if desired to temporarily increase torque above a designed specification for stuck valve conditions.
What is the stiffness of PLEXIS valve technology's coupling?
That is to be determined, and depends on the application and specified torque. For a relatively simple, low cost, moderate torque version of our actuator, we have observed a nearly 40 degree movement of the outer actuator from equilibrium to maximum torque transmittal with respect to the inner portion of the actuator held stationary. We can characterize and graph this phenomenon if needed, but it is important to remember that it is highly dependent on the specific design, size of valve, and specified seating torque. It can be tailored to a particular application if necessary.
Is PLEXIS valve technology applicable to both linear and rotary valves?
Our value proposition is primarily for rotary actuated valves at least in the sense of the external portion of the actuator – i.e. Designs that are operated by a rotating handle or motor. We definitely support worm gear and traveling nut type geometries to convert rotary inputs to linear or limited angular motion internally, and these valves can certainly contain linearly moving gates, relatively small angular movements of balls or butterflies, etc., but we don't currently think that our technology would be compelling for a linear electric solenoid valve. There are many linear solenoid vales already on the market, so we are hesitant to devote too many resources to those types of design in advance, though we would never-the-less be happy to help with any particular application or need that there may be in that arena.
What is the applicable temperature range of PLEXIS valve technology?
Some degradation in torque transmission is expected below negative 150 Celsius (123 Kelvin). Current maximum operating temperature is ~1043 degrees Kelvin = 770 Celsius = ~1400 F for the operating fluid itself. We should probably specify 100 Celsius max external environment to the valve (still far above an environment safe for human habitation…) to protect any external electronics and instrumentation used to automatically actuate the valve for example. Basically our upper operating temperature range is far in excess of competing magnetic valve couplings – We have a secret sauce that greatly expands the temperature handling capabilities of our valves as compared to competing designs. Non-operational, the main valve body can be soldered, brazed, welded, etc. – Basically whatever is needed to effectively seal it for a given application – Obviously we would recommend not welding the valve actuator or associated electronics though – Better to disconnect the external actuator first before welding or brazing the pipe connections – Then reinstall after.
What is the fluid compatibility of PLEXIS valve technology?
There is a broad range of fluid compatibilities – internal (wet) portions of actuator can be constructed from and or coated with the same materials used to construct the balance of the valve body and mechanism. Potential materials and coatings include certain stainless steels, ceramics, glass, CVD coatings, etc.
What is the reliability over time and temperature of PLEXIS valve technology?
Zero stem seal leaks over entire valve life is guaranteed because there is no rotating stem seal to leak. Six Sigma overall leak-proofing through the valve seat is possible utilizing multiple of our stem-leak-proof valves in series, this would not be possible with traditional valves. Networks of these new valves could be designed and implemented to extremely high overall system reliability specifications. Again this is not generally possible with traditional valves, our technology enables this capability. Internal fluid handling temperatures are very wide compared to competing approaches, and we would not encounter any degradation over time or temperature beyond what might be encountered in a traditional valve seat.
Furthermore, there is no degradation of the stem seal over time or temperature because it does not exist in our design and the stem seal is typically softer and more vulnerable to long term damage due to differential thermal expansion in traditional valves. Normal care and caution of handling electronic components would apply to the external portions of the valve actuator especially for automated valves that are motor-driven, contain electronics, etc., although perhaps we could build redundancy into the overall valve network to compensate for this as well.
What other applications can PLEXIS valve technology be used for?
Other applications include HVAC, food & pharmaceuticals, etc.
Our customer must have a positive means to turn off a valve in the event of a catastrophic failure. If the connection from valve stem to valve actuator is (only) magnetic, there is the possibility of not being able to open or close the valves in an emergency situation for example if the inner valve components accumulate build up and become "sticky". Then the magnetic couple may not be sufficient to turn the valve. Do you have a solution for this?
Yes! This is a very important question, and key component of our technology. It is something that we have been working on for the past six years and it is the main motivation for our third patent answers (and is also touched upon in our first and fourth patents). In short:
The third patent pending in our portfolio is a cheater handle that is available to directly mechanically engage and break free a stuck valve only when needed, and the interface to it resides behind a sealed port or even brazed or soldered cover the rest of the time (seal and all), which is a significant advance over previously patented magnetic valve cheater devices that have had exposed seals. This port could also be automated for remote applications.
The fourth patent pending in our portfolio is the asymmetric magnetic actuator that insures that we always have more torque available magnetically to break free a stuck valve from the magnetic actuator, than is available to tighten the valve (closing torque is magnetically limited to the specified valve seat torque for maximum lifetime reliability of the valve seat). This patent means that we wouldn't have to employ the technology described in the third patent very often. The second part of this fourth patent is a complementary technology that also prevents the valve from sticking in the open position under all but the most catastrophic of conditions -- a stuck open condition would be exceedingly rare with our magnetic valve technology.
The third claim of our first pending patent describes a magnetic cheater handle that can be employed for moderately stuck valve conditions, where the additional torque provided by the technology described in the fourth patent is perhaps not quite enough to break the valve free, but a magnetic cheater handle that generates more than the rated valve seating torque might perhaps get the valve working again without resorting the fully mechanically coupled cheater handle described in the third patent. One wouldn't want to employ this enhanced handle all of the time due to the risk of an overzealous operator exceeding the specified seating torque, but it could prove useful in a pinch (and generally only works with our magnetic valve technology, not previously patented designs).