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Functions, Features and

Application Techniques

Andritz Feed & Biofuel

336 West Penn Street, Muncy PA 17756-1202, USA
Phone: 800/446-8629 FAX: 570/546-1615



Rotary Valve Functions



Construction Features
Rotary Valve Types
Drop-Through Valves
Side-Inlet Valves
Blow-Through Valves
Quick CleanTM Valves
Pocket Configurations
Materials of Construction
Housing Construction
End Bell Construction
Application Techniques
Reducing Shear
Differential Pressure
Abrasive Products



Sizing Rotary Valves

Bulk Density
Valve Speed


Rotary Valve Data


Andritz Feed & Biofuel

336 West Penn Street, Muncy PA 17756-1202, USA
Phone: 800/446-8629 FAX: 570/546-1615

Rotary Valves
For over 60 years Andritz has been designing pneumatic systems and manufacturing components for these systems. The rotary valve has
more of an effect on both the operating performance and the efficiency of a pneumatic system than any other single pneumatic conveying
component. Through the evolution of producing
a high quality rotary valve, Andritz has incorporated many features that help the valves endure
the many difficult products in the chemical and
plastic industry.
The following article reviews some of those features and will help you size, vent and apply the
proper rotary valve for your specific application.


Rotary valves serve three main functions:

1. To provide an air seal (airlock) for pneumatic systems.

Rotary Valves

2. To provide product metering (feeder).

3. To provide product metering (feeder)
and an air seal (airlock) or in combination as an airlock feeder for pneumatic
conveying systems.
Used as airlocks or feeders, rotary valves are
physically the same in both cases, with only the
speed differing between the two applications.
A rotary valve acts as an airlock where an air
seal is needed, such as at the end of a vacuum
system where product is discharged from a filter
receiver or cyclone collector into a hopper, silo, or
container. Without the valve to act as a seal, air
would be drawn up through the discharge by the
blower, and the vacuum could not be sustained to
convey material.
When used as feeders, rotary valves discharge a
given rate of product. A valve serves as both
airlock and feeder, such as when metering material into a pneumatic conveying line. Where a
screw conveyor, gravimetric, or volumetric feeder
is required to meter into a pneumatic system, the
metering device is isolated or sealed from the
pneumatic system by a rotary valve. The valve is
acting as a seal or airlock, and should be running
at airlock speed

Andritz Feed & Biofuel

336 West Penn Street, Muncy PA 17756-1202, USA
Phone: 800/446-8629 FAX: 570/546-1615

Figure 3-1 Airlocks and Feeders


Three primary types of rotary valves are

used: dropthrough (most common), sideinlet, and less frequently used today, blowthrough. In addition, the quick clean option
can be incorporated into the dropthrough and
side-inlet models
Drop Through Valves
In drop-through rotary valves, inlet and out
let are in line and of the same size. As the
rotor turns,
pockets are
filled by the
products vertical
flow. Drop-through
rotary valves are
square only,
adapters to round
or customer
specified, flange
Figure 4-1 Drop Through Valves
dimensions are
available. (See Figure 4-1)
Quick CleanTM Valves
The Quick CleanTM valve was designed to meet
the needs of the chemical, food, plastics and
pharmaceutical industries where cross contamination is a major concern and lengthy shutdowns
for clean out is cost prohibitive.
The design incorporates quick removal of the
rotor for clean out purposes without dismantling
drive components. Some models are equipped
with rotor carriages that provide safety and convenience for the operator.

Rotary Valves
Construction Features
Side-Inlet Valves
The side-inlet valve is offset from the product
flow line, so that
rotor pockets are
only partially filled
from the side as
they move up
past the inlet.
This design
eliminates or
product shearing
between rotor
and housing.
Figure 4-2 Side-Inlet Valve

The degree of pocket filling from the side depends on the products flow characteristics. To
compensate for varying flow characteristics, the
sideinlet valves inlet contains and adjustable baffle plate that can be raised or lowered to increase
or decrease pocket loading.

Figure 4-3 Quick CleanTM Valve

Andritz Feed & Biofuel
336 West Penn Street, Muncy PA 17756-1202, USA
Phone: 800/446-8629 FAX: 570/546-1615


Rotors are fabricated and precision machined
to exact tolerances. They are available in two
basic types: open-end and closed end
(shrouded). An open-end rotor is a shaft
to which blades are welded, forming pockets. Closed-end rotors have shrouds on each
end; blades are welded to the shaft and to
each shroud, providing strength and rigidity.

Construction Features
Type 1

Type 2

Type 3

Type 4

Closed-end rotors are less prone to flexing

and leaking under high pressure differentials.
This construction prevents the product stream
from contacting and causing wear to the inside
face of the end bell.
While open-end rotor are less expensive, they
subject the end bells of the valve to wear. Blades
can trap product between the blade edges and
the inside face of the end bell. With open end
rotors, both radial and end clearances must be
maintained. Open-end rotors also allow product
to enter the packing area more easily than occurs
with shrouded rotors.

Figure 5-1 Pocket Configurations

Pocket Configurations
Within these two categories are four primary rotor
pocket configurations. (See Figure 5-1)
A maximum capacity rotor has full, deep pockets
for maximum displacement.

The fourth type offers an even more restrictive

pocket. This reduces rotor displacement, for a
more even flow; it also allows product prone to
bridging to flow freely through the valve at controlled, reduced rate.

A second type of rotor combines these full, deep

pockets with adjustable, replaceable tips. These
tips can be made of various materials that are
compatible with the product being handled.

Clearances (ambient temperature conditions)

In a high quality, cast-iron valve, rotor tip-tocasing clearance will be .002 to .004. Clearance
between the shroud and casing should be the

A third rotor type is a deep pocket rotor with concave filler plates (pocket surfaces) that reduce
pocket depth by fifty percent for reduced capacity and/or better product release. Pockets can be
polished or Teflon coated so that sticky products
flow easily from each pocket if necessary.

Stainless valves should have tip clearances of

.005 to .007, with the same on the shrouds. This
greater clearance minimizes the chance of galling
stainless on stainless steel.

Andritz Feed & Biofuel

336 West Penn Street, Muncy PA 17756-1202, USA
Phone: 800/446-8629 FAX: 570/546-1615

In either case, clearance between the outside

face of the shroud and the inside face of the end
bell should be approximately 0.75.

Materials of Construction
The housing and end bells of most rotary
valves are cast iron, carbon or stainless steel,
and aluminum. More exotic metals are used

Construction Features
Side-inlet valves do not have inspection panels,
because the offset inlet does not allow room. For
this reason, most side-inlet valves do not have
adjustable rotor tips.

Figure 6-1 Full Inspection Panel

A drop-through valve can incorporate a v-plow,

castinto the downstream side of the inlet. (See
Figure 6-2) The v-plow limits shearing to two
points, as opposed to a line along the rotors full
length. The plow provides a more gentle shearing
action on those particles caught between rotor tip
and plow than the shock or impact action caused
when particles catch between the rotor tip and
the blunt, straight side of the inlet.

Housing Construction
In a drop-through valve body, a full-length inspection panel allows access to the side of the
valve to clean out foreign material that may have
jammed the rotor. Removing the panel also permits accurate adjustment of rotor tips to the valve
body, compensating for wear. Without a panel,
the valve must be removedin order to set tips.
However, removing the rotor makes guesswork of
setting clearances, because tips cannot be set to
the body.
In a high-quality valve, the panel is bolted to the
casing and the two are bored together for accurate roundness. This provides consistent rotor tip-to housing clearance. The mating surface
between the panel and housing is a machined
fit. The casting has full round ends that are machined to accept the end bells machined insert
surfaces. This provides structural support when
the inspection panel is removed.
(See Figure 6-1)

Andritz Feed & Biofuel

336 West Penn Street, Muncy PA 17756-1202, USA
Phone: 800/446-8629 FAX: 570/546-1615

Figure 6-2 V-Plow Inlet


Valve bodies are available with open or

closed bottoms. (Compare Figures 7-1 and
7-2) Open bottoms are used most often,
because they allow product to drop out from
between the shroud and end plates. Closed
bottom valves are used where abrasion is a
problem; separate purging will be required.
Purging is discussed in detail later in this

Construction Features

Figure 7-3

Figure 7-1 MST Open Bottom

Figure 7-2 MST Closed Bottom

Andritz Feed & Biofuel

336 West Penn Street, Muncy PA 17756-1202, USA
Phone: 800/446-8629 FAX: 570/546-1615

End Bell Construction

The valves end bells carry the bearings and the
shaft packing (as shown in Figures 7-1 and 7-2).
Usually greaseable ball bearings are used; they
should be mounted well outboard to keep them
away from any product leakage through the seal.
This distance also helps keep grease well away
from the product, and leaves room for changing
the packing. A split packing follower allows the
packing to be replaced without removing the end
Normally four rings of packing provide a proper
seal. Where a fine or abrasive product is being
handled, a lantern ring can be installed in place
of a second ring of packing. This results in two
rings of packing outboard of the lantern ring and
one ring of packing inboard. Compressed air is
provided to the lantern ring at two pounds over
the conveying pressure. (Details of this arrangement are shown in figure 7-3.) The lantern
ring should be split to enable retrofitting without
total disassembly of the ends.


Whether running as airlock, feeder, or both, a
rotary valve should be placed in service with
the rotor shaft perpendicular to the conveying
line, rotating downwards on the downstream
side. This arrangement minimizes the tendency of conveying air to hold product in rotor pockets, as might happen if the pockets were coming down on the upstream side.
Discharging on the downstream side of the air
stream prevents shearing of product on the
bottom side of the valve. If the valve is set
with the rotor parallel to the flow of air, theres
a tendency for material to pack into the downstream end bell area. This would cause unnecessary wear on the rotor and housing.

Rotary Valves
Application Techniques

Reducing Shear
At the inlet of a pressure system, a side-entry
valve can be used to reduce product shear, while
serving as a metering feeder for granular, freeflowing materials. The angle of repose prevents
complete filling of the pocket and the location of
the shear point allows product to fall away from
the shear point between rotor tips and the bore
of the casing. This approach is recommended
where product degradation and fines are a problem.
Figure 8-1 shows other methods of reducing
shear for products that do not lend themselves to
a side entry valve.
Where particles are caught between rotor tips
and casing on the blunt side of an inlet, there is
a risk of damage to the valve as it tries to shear
product. Shearing is evidenced by noise and
drive chain jerking. This causes excessive fines,
rotor tip wear, and broken drive chains.
In certain cases, shear knives are installed at the
inlet of a valve to actually cut the product between the knife and the rotor tips such as when
handling wood veneer.

Figure 8-1 Eliminating or Reducing Shearing

Andritz Feed & Biofuel
336 West Penn Street, Muncy PA 17756-1202, USA
Phone: 800/446-8629 FAX: 570/546-1615


Inadequate venting is probably the most
common fault in rotary valve installations.
Proper venting allows the valve to function at
its best when feeding a positive pressure

Application Techniques

When used as a feeder on a positive pres

sure conveying system, a rotary valve will
have a head of product above it, and air leakage through the valve will tend to impede
product flow to the rotor. This is most obvious
on powders and fine granules, when the leakage can form a bubble above the inlet, restricting flow of the product. (See Figure 9-1)
Pellets and products with large particles are more
forgiving of poor venting, because the air can
work its way up through the head of material.
Tests have indicated that a side-inlet valve, if not
vented, can have capacity reduced by as much
as 50% when handling free flowing, granular
plastic pellets.

Figure 9-1

Where there is a higher pressure on the inlet side

of a rotary valve than on the discharge side, it is
not necessary to provide venting.
Venting is best accomplished by use of vent hoppers mounted on top of the valve, as opposed to
tapping or cutting into the side of the valve. When
a valve is used as a sealing device, the integrity
of the rotorblade-to-housing fit should not be
comprised. There should always be two blades
sealing against the housing on each side of the
unit. This integrity is maintained with the use of
vent hoppers, but not if the vent connection is
made through the side of the casing.
On a side-inlet valve, the vent connection is built
into the top of the casing, which still allows two
blades per side to seal. (Figure 9-2)
Figure 9-2

Andritz Feed & Biofuel

336 West Penn Street, Muncy PA 17756-1202, USA
Phone: 800/446-8629 FAX: 570/546-1615


The size of the vent line should be at least

equal to or greater than the conveying
line. If the vent line is too small, the velocity may be high enough to actually convey
product up the vent line with potential of

Application Techniques
Another caution is to be sure that the vent line
is installed so there are no angles less than the
products angle of repose, so material can fall
freely back to the valve. A horizontal or shallowangle vent line will clog with material that falls
out of the vent air stream. Use of a vent bag, is
discouraged because fine products may quickly
clog the bags pores and reduce ventilation.

uggested Design for Venting Valves
Rotary Valve Size

















S.I. Feeder

Figure 10-1
Andritz Feed & Biofuel
336 West Penn Street, Muncy PA 17756-1202, USA
Phone: 800/446-8629 FAX: 570/546-1615



Air leakage must be considered wherever rotary valves are used. Natural air leakage can
be beneficial when used for purging (see discussion below.) In calculating system
efficiency, one must take into account leakage as air passes through rotary valves,
whether still or operating.
Figure 11-1 shows approximate leakage
values for rotary valves not in operation. To
obtain total estimated leakage it is necessary
to add rotor displacement, times the valve
speed, to the leakage shown on these curves. If
there are several valves in the system, the total
air leakage must be added to the CFM requirements of the fan or blower selected for that system.

Application Techniques
Since the area between the rotor shroud and the
end bells can also see product on both closed
and open bottom valves, these should be purged,
as well especially on abrasive products or
those that might tend to stick or accumulate in
that area. Valves should be equipped with two
purge taps in each end bell.

Vacuum Receiver

Figure 11-2 Airlock at Outlet of Vacuum System

When product-laden air or gas is permitted to
enter clearance areas, it can erode the housing
and rotor seal areas. Purging prevents this. Purging application involves removing purge plugs
from the ends of a rotary valve at the outlet of a
vacuum system, as shown in Figure 11-3.
The vacuum draws clean air in through the purge
holes and over the rotor shrouds, keeping product out of those clearance areas.
Figure 11-1

To keep product from entering the shaft packing

area, purge air is applied to the split lantern ring
at 2 psi above the conveying line pressure. (Figure 11-3 demonstrates the packing arrangement.)
Special caution must be taken to activate the air
purge before starting the conveying system, so
product laden air is not forced into the valve
seal area.
Andritz Feed & Biofuel
336 West Penn Street, Muncy PA 17756-1202, USA
Phone: 800/446-8629 FAX: 570/546-1615

Figure 11-3


Application Techniques



Figure 12-1 Air Purge

When purging the end bells on open bottom

valves, another source for air can be conveying
air, itself, where there is only one valve in use on
the conveying line. (See Figure 12-1) In this case,
an air line is tapped into the clean upstream conveying line and piped to both end bells. A butterfly
valve is used in the convey line to insure that air
flows through the purge line. The purge air will
rejoin the conveying line after flowing through the
end bell area.
Andritz Feed & Biofuel
336 West Penn Street, Muncy PA 17756-1202, USA
Phone: 800/446-8629 FAX: 570/546-1615

On closed bottom valves, purge air is introduced

at 5 psi greater than conveying line pressure; this
amount of air requires a separate source normally including a small pressure blower. Configurations may vary.



Differential Pressure
In addition to capacity, valves are rated by the
amount of pressure rotors can withstand
without excessive deflection. A 15 psi valve,
for example, will withstand a pressure differential from inlet to discharge of 15 psi without causing the rotor to bind or allow excessive leakage. This 15 psi designation is not a
pressure rating, as in the case of pressure

Application Techniques

In applying rotary valves, one must rememb
ber to compensate for rotor growth at elevated temperatures. With clearances of .002 to
.004 in cast iron and .005 to .007 in stainless,
expansion becomes a factor at product temperatures over 120F. Actual operating temperature
must be specified so the valve manufacturer can
provide proper clearances.
Abrasive Products require special consideration
of materials of construction and purging to minimize wear.
Figure 13-1 Closed Bottom

Mildly abrasive products can be handled successfully in valves with chrome plated bores, hard
surfaced shrouds, and Ni-Hard adjustable rotor
More abrasive products should be handled in
valves with hard surfaced bores, hard surfaced
shrouds, and Ni-Hard adjustable tips. In rotor
types without adjustable tips, the edges of the rotor blades should be hard surfaced.

Andritz Feed & Biofuel

336 West Penn Street, Muncy PA 17756-1202, USA
Phone: 800/446-8629 FAX: 570/546-1615

When operating with high differential pressures

across the valve, valves for extremely abrasive
products should have closed bottoms. (See Figure 13-1) This prevents the material from getting
between the shroud and end bell. In these cases,
its important to air-purge the end bell at 5 psi
over the conveying pressure to prevent product
from entering this area. The packing gland should
also be equipped with a lantern ring and purging



Rotary valve sizes are typically specified by rotor
diameter, rotor length, and inlet dimensions.
Andritz valves, for example, use a numbering
system in which the first two numerals indicate
rotor diameter and the second two numerals
represent rotor length. Where a square inlet is
used, the second two numerals also indicate inlet
dimensions. For example, an Andritz 1410 valve
has a 14 inch diameter rotor that is 10 inches
long; the inlet is 10 inches by 10 inches.

Bulk Density
While valves are specified to handle a certain
number of pounds per hour, theyre selected on the
basis of volume in cubic feet per hour. Therefore,
proper sizing requires knowledge of the products
bulk density as seen by the valve. This is critical to
proper sizing, because an aerated product can have a
bulk density far below the same products bulk density
in a resting state. Some clay materials, at rest, have a
bulk density of 40 lbs./cuft; when aerated, bulk density
drops to 5 lbs.cuft. This example, while extreme, is
real and illustrates the need to be sure of product
density within the system when sizing the valve.

Sizing Rotary Valves
To Calculate the speed of a feeder, at 100% pocket
fill you would first calculate the capacity in cubic feet
per hour. For example, if we are to meter 15,000 lb./
hr of product weighing 25 lbs./cuft., we would divide
the rate per hour by the bulk density which calculates
to 600 cuft./hr. An Andritz 1410 rotary valve displaces
.65 cuft./rev. or 975 cuft./hr. operating at 25 RPM. The
next smaller valve, a 1008 has a displacement of .27
cuft./rev., or 405 cuft./hr. which would not be large
enough to handle the capacity.
The Valve speed will equal the volume to be handled, divided by the rotor displacement in cu. Ft./
revolution(the AS 1410 valve displaces .65 cu. Ft./
revolution) and by 60 to change the units to minutes.

Valve Speed
When used as an airlock, a rotary valve must be
sized to handle ALL of the material that comes to it,
without allowing any product to build up over the valve
into the receiver or cyclone. Since all systems show
some tendencies toward surging and imprecise feeding (leading to poor pocket filling), an airlock is always
sized at 50% of its maximum capacity and run at
airlock speed: 45 rpm for rotors up to 16 in diameter.
Larger units, because of tip speed considerations,
would run at lower speeds.
When used as a feeder, a rotary valve must be sized
to allow product sufficient time to fill the rotor pockets.
Feeder or metering valves are sized on approximately
70 to 100% efficiency based on product flow characteristics. All calculations are done in cubic feet per
hour. The desired operating speed of a metering valve
would be 8 to 25 RPM. Based on a maximum 25 RPM
valve speed a valve should be sized to accept the
maximum product flow below this speed.

Therefore, we would select a 1410 rotary valve running at 15 rpm to handle 15,000 lb./hr. of 25 lb./ft. 3
A valve this size takes a 1 HP gear motor drive. For
a valve speed of 15 rpm, we would use a gear motor
with an output speed of 49 rpm.
Sometimes a products flowability affects sizing morethan its density. When a product doesnt flow well, its
desirable to use as large inlet as possible to minimize
the angle of transition from the vessel above the
However, a large valve may have more capacity than
the conveying system requires. This is where one
uses the reduced capacity rotors. Selection and
speed calculations for these valves are the same as
previously outlined. Another reason for using a reduced capacity rotor is to keep the valve speed

over 8 rpm. Speeds below 8 rpm require special

drives; low speeds can also result in too much
torque, which can break shafts an/or damage rotor blades.
Andritz Feed & Biofuel
336 West Penn Street, Muncy PA 17756-1202, USA
Phone: 800/446-8629 FAX: 570/546-1615



Almost every rotary valve is driven by sprocket and chain, using a parallel shaft gearmotor. Three basic speeds are used for the gear
motor outputs: 98, 49 and 30 rpm. From
these, by sprocket selection, we can adjust
valve speed precisely.

Sizing Rotary Valves

HTD belt drives can also be used. V-belts for

final drives are not acceptable: they tend to
slip, causing irregular valve operation and
resulting product degradation.
Right angle gearmotors are also used, but are
generally limited to very slow feeder or light-duty
airlock service because of torque limitations. The
appeal is mostly in the lower costs.
Where variable speeds are needed for feeder
applications, there are several methods available,
such as variable pitch belt drives, DC drives and
variable frequency AC drives. Variable pitch and
DC drives have been around for quite awhile,
but the variable frequency AC drive is becoming
more popular because its less costly than a DC
drive, yet still allows remote operation. Variable
pitch drive speeds can be changed manually at
the unit, or from a remote control location that is
limited by the length of a flexible shaft drive, and
remotely via electric or air-operated controls.

Figure 15-1 MST / MSR

A caution to be observed with both DC and AC

variable frequency drives is that, at low motor
speeds, the motor fan may not provide enough
CFM to keep the unit cool. Another problem associated with low speeds is called cogging, where
the drive will hesitate, causing the valve pockets
to fill erratically.

Figure 15-2 MSI

Andritz Feed & Biofuel

336 West Penn Street, Muncy PA 17756-1202, USA
Phone: 800/446-8629 FAX: 570/546-1615



Rotary Valve Data

The Rotary Valve, while a very simple machine, plays a critical role in any pneumatic system.
Take time to understand sizing, venting and purging of feeder to avoid operating and maintenance problems. We are happy to help you select the right Rotary Valve for your applications.



Lab. No.

Capacity (CU FT/HR)
Flow Characteristics
Product Temperature

Particle Size

Capacity (lb/hr)
Bulk Density (LB/CU FT)

Moisture Content

Oil Fat Content


Postive Negative
Application: Feeder Airlock
Model: MST
Construction: C.I. C.I. Chrome

Below Valve
Above Valve
Other Indoor Outdoor
304 SST 316 SST Other

Square Inlets and Outlets are Standard. Accessory attachments are available as required
for pipe flange.
Inlet Required: __________Square

Outlet Required: _________ Square


Type 1


304 SST
316 SST
Other __________________________________________________


EXPL. Proof
Chemical Duty
Other __________________________________________________

304 SST
Type 2

316 SST
Type 3

Type 4

Above the Rotary Valve: _________________________________________________________
Below the Rotary Valve: _________________________________________________________
Andritz Feed & Biofuel
336 West Penn Street, Muncy PA 17756-1202, USA
Phone: 800/446-8629 FAX: 570/546-1615



35 Sherman Street Muncy, PA 17756 USA

Visit us at andritz.com
Tel: 800/446-8629 Fax: 570/546-1306

Andritzs registered Trademark, service marks, word marks,and logos, including Andritz may not be used or reproduced
without permission. Any individual, organization or company wishing to use Andritz and trademarks must obtain the right
to do so in writing from Andritz.
Andritz Feed & Biofuel
336 West Penn Street, Muncy PA 17756-1202, USA
Phone: 800/446-8629 FAX: 570/546-1615


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