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What Is a Butterfly Valve and How Does It Work?

Aug. 24, 2023

A butterfly valve is a type of quarter-turn valve that is commonly used to regulate and control the flow of fluids, such as liquids or gases, within a piping system. It gets its name from the disc or "butterfly" that is located within the valve body. Butterfly valves are known for their simple design, ease of operation, and quick opening and closing action.


Structure and Components:

A typical butterfly valve consists of the following main components:


  • Body: The valve body is the outer casing that houses the other components of the valve. It is designed to connect to the pipeline and provide a pathway for the fluid to flow.


  • Disc: The disc, often referred to as the butterfly, is a circular or semi-circular plate that is positioned within the valve body. It is connected to a shaft at its center and can rotate to control the flow.


  • Shaft: The shaft is attached to the center of the disc and extends outside the valve body. It provides the connection point for the actuator (manual or automated) that controls the rotation of the disc.


  • Actuator: The actuator is responsible for moving the disc to open or close the valve. It can be manual, where the operator turns a handle or lever, or automated, where it is controlled by an electric, pneumatic, or hydraulic mechanism.

Butterfly Valve

Butterfly Valve

How Do Butterfly Valves Work?

The operation of a butterfly valve is relatively simple and involves the rotation of the disc within the valve body. Here's how it works:


Open Position:

In the fully open position, the disc is rotated parallel to the flow direction of the fluid, allowing unobstructed flow through the valve.

Closed Position:

When the valve is closed, the disc is rotated perpendicular to the flow direction, blocking the passage of fluid and stopping the flow completely.

Intermediate Positions:

Butterfly valves can be positioned at various degrees between fully open and fully closed to control the flow rate. The disc's rotation is adjusted to allow the desired amount of fluid to pass through the valve.

Advantages of Butterfly Valves:

Butterfly valves offer several advantages:


  • Fast Operation: Butterfly valves can be opened or closed quickly with a quarter-turn motion, making them suitable for applications requiring rapid response.


  • Low Pressure Drop: When fully open, butterfly valves introduce minimal resistance to the flow of fluid, resulting in a low pressure drop across the valve.


  • Compact Design: Their simple construction and compact size make them easy to install in space-restricted areas.


  • Cost-Effective: Butterfly valves are generally cost-effective compared to other types of valves, making them a popular choice for large-diameter applications.


  • Low Maintenance: With fewer moving parts, butterfly valves tend to require less maintenance compared to some other valve types.



Butterfly valves are used in various industries and applications, including:


Water treatment plants

HVAC systems

Chemical processing

Food and beverage industries

Power generation

Oil and gas industries

Marine and shipbuilding

In summary, a butterfly valve is a versatile and widely used valve that controls the flow of fluids by rotating a disc within the valve body. Its simple design, quick operation, and ability to handle large flow rates make it suitable for a range of applications across different industries.

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