Using flow control solutions to produce environmentally clean and efficient fuels

Cleaner fuels are needed

A typical isomerization process includes about 50 to 60 control valves and about 70 to 80 automated on-off and safety valves. This blog briefly describes the isomerization process and the valves involved at each stage.

1. Feed and regenerant control valves

Light naphtha feed and make-up hydrogen are both charged in separate dryer vessels. Reliable and accurate control is required to keep the hydrogen-to-hydrocarbon ratio at an optimal level.

Rising stem valves are typically used for isomerization feed control applications. When combined with a third generation, intelligent controller, plants can achieve the desired control accuracy and reliability. The best possible control accuracy is important to keep the feed ratio at the right level. A metal-seated valve with a rugged, one-piece body structure ensures long-lasting tightness and eliminates potential leak paths.

2. Dryer switching valves

The dryer switching applications are perhaps most critical for the valves in the isomerization process, because they direct the inlet and outlet gas streams into the adsorption bed columns, switching the columns from adsorption phase to regeneration or cooling phases.

Trunnion and seat-supported rotary ball valves are field-proven and licensor-approved solutions for isomerization process dryer switching applications. The use of a rotating stem with live-loaded emission-proof packing meets the certified emission levels without the need for packing lubrication.

Trunnion valves offer a simple bearing function to easily avoid excessive wear. Rotary ball valves resist particle build-up, as the seat and ball effectively wipe the seat surface with every cycle.

Rugged, pneumatic cylinder actuators provide an easy way to install the rotary valve in any mounting position without any additional support, providing savings with piping and installation costs. These valves can be equipped with intelligent controllers, such as Neles SwitchGuard, to set the on-off valve closing and opening stroke times and profiles according to process needs. Online condition monitoring further adds to process reliability with the diagnostic information saved within the device itself.

3. Hydrogen quench control

Hydrogen quenches control the reactor temperature and protect the catalyst beds from possible coke build-up. As feed composition may vary, valve rangeability is required.

Rising stem globe valves equipped with an intelligent valve controller ensure efficient and reliable reactor quenching. Keeping the variability under control reduces hydrogen consumption and guarantees that the required hydrogen amount is available. These valves provide a fast control response to stabilize the process conditions with modern, efficient catalysts.

4. Reactor inlet shut-off

An emergency shutdown (ESD) valve is needed to isolate and protect the reactors in case of a process upset. Rotary ball valves with an intelligent safety solenoid, such as Neles ValvGuard™, ensure that the valve is operational when needed and its robust design allows a long lifetime.

A high torque piston actuator, designed to overcome static friction, is an important feature for safety valves that are not operated frequently. Online partial stroke testing provides a way to ensure that the valve will be available when it is needed. The advanced diagnostics capability of the intelligent safety solenoid helps the plant further comply with demanding safety targets.

5. Column heat and product control

The reactor effluent is cooled before entering the product fractionation column. The hydrocarbon mixture is separated into the components according to the boiling points by fractionation in the column. All chosen valves must provide reliable and accurate control performance to ensure efficient gas-liquid separation and isomerate product purity.

Read more about the entire isomerization process and the role of intelligent valve controllers with online diagnostic capabilities here.

Written by Sari Aronen. For additional information on the topic, please contact

This blog post has been up-dated in July 2020, due to company name change to Neles.