Ricardo plc, a global strategic environmental and engineering consulting company has undertaken an in-depth life cycle assessment of aftermarket valve components, which has concluded that additive manufacturing has a significantly lower impact on the environment.
Commissioned by IMI Critical Engineering for its additive manufacturing technology Retrofit3D, the study identified opportunities to reduce the climate change impact of certain replacement valve parts. As part of this process, the valves’ global warming potential can now be reduced by between 85%-96% depending on valve size and repair scenario.
IMI Critical Engineering designs and manufactures highly specialised valves and actuators to help control the flow of steam, gas, and liquids serving the oil and gas, petrochemicals, water, and power industries. The valves used in these sectors are subject to harsh operating conditions, which can lead to deleterious phenomena such as erosion or cavitation. When this type of damage is found, upgrades are required in the form of a new disk stack.
Ricardo was asked by IMI Critical Engineering to apply its expertise in life cycle assessments to determine the environmental impact of three replacement scenarios for two different valve sizes (large and small). These scenarios included: the replacement of the disk stack via only traditional manufacturing methods; the replacement of the full valve via traditional manufacturing methods; and the replacement of the disk stack only via additive manufacturing.
The life cycle assessment found that the additive disk stack replacement manufactured by Retrofit3D was the preferable scenario across all the environmental indicators analysed. The small valve resulted in 146kg of carbon dioxide equivalent when the Retrofit3D additive manufacturing process was used to produce the replacement disk stack. The large valve resulted in 1,360kg of carbon dioxide equivalent using the same process.