Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Understanding Linear, Equal Percentage, and Quick Open Control Valve Flow Curves

Flowserve Valtek Control Valve
Flowserve Valtek Control Valve
Flow characteristics, the relationship between flow coefficient and valve stroke, has been a subject of considerable debate. Many valve types, such as butterfly, eccentric disk and ball valves, have an inherent characteristic which cannot be changed (except with characterizable positioner cams). Flow characteristics of globe valves can be determined by the shape of the plug head.

The three most common types of flow characteristics are quick opening, equal percentage and linear. The figure below shows the ideal characteristic curve for each. These characteristics can be approximated by contouring the plug. However, inasmuch as there are body effects and other uncontrollable factors, plus the need for maximizing the flow capacity for a particular valve, the real curves often deviate considerably from these ideals. When a constant pressure drop is maintained across the valve, the characteristic of the valve alone controls the flow; this characteristic is referred to as the “inherent flow characteristic.” “Installed characteristics” include both the valve and pipeline effects. The difference can best be understood by examining an entire system.

Equal Percentage
Control valve flow curves
Control valve flow curves.

Equal percentage is the characteristic most commonly used in process control. The change in flow per unit of valve stroke is directly proportional to the flow occurring just before the change is made. While the flow characteristic of the valve itself may be equal percentage, most control loops will produce an installed characteristic approaching linear when the overall system pressure drop is large relative to that across the valve.


An inherently linear characteristic produces equal changes in flow per unit of valve stroke regardless of plug position. Linear plugs are used on those systems where the valve pressure drop is a major portion of the total system pressure drop.

Quick Open

Quick open plugs are used for on-off applications designed to produce maximum flow quickly.

This information provided courtesy of Flowserve Valtek. Share your control valve requirements and challenges with a valve specialist, combining your own process knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop effective solutions.