Rotary Valve Actuators

Schematic of an Oilfield Kelly Valve Actuator
Schematic of a rotary hydraulic actuator for a Kelly valve

A Kelly valve is a ball valve that is installed in-line with the drill string. When used as an upper Kelly valve, the valve is closed when needed to control the pressure of a blowout. When used as a lower Kelly valve, the valve is closed to prevent drilling fluid loss during periods when the Kelly is disconnected. When open, the Kelly valves allow free flow of the drilling fluid. A Kelly valve is also referred to as a “Kelly cock”, “drill pipe safety valve”, or “drill stem safety valve” (DSSV).

A rotary valve actuator, also known as a rotary hydraulic actuator or a Kelly valve actuator, is used to open or close the Kelly valve during drill string rotation. As shown in the schematic, a hydraulically operated rack and pinion arrangement is used to turn the stem and ball of the Kelly valve. The hydraulic fluid pressure is transmitted to the rack piston of the valve actuator via three rotary seals that are mounted in a non-rotating seal housing. In other words, the rotary valve actuator incorporates a compact hydraulic swivel.

Why are Kalsi Seals used in hydraulic swivel applications?

Kalsi-brand rotary seals provide a significant advantage in swivel-type applications such as this because of their cool operation and long sealing life. This advantage is achieved via a special lip design that introduces a thin film of hydraulic fluid between the lip and the mating shaft surface during rotation, allowing the lip to hydroplane. This minimizes friction, which reduces heat and wear.