crankshafts in reciprocation compressors

The Role of a Compressor Valve Plate and Maintenance Tips

A reciprocating compressor is only as good as the components it is composed of. One of the most crucial components that contribute to the overall performance of a compressor is the valve plate. If the compressor is the backbone of all your manufacturing processes, paying attention to critical components such as the valve plate is crucial.

Here’s what you should know about the valve plate and its primary role in compressor activity.

What is a Valve Plate?

As used in reciprocating compressors, a compressor valve plate is a flat or nearly flat material that makes up the valve assembly in compressors. The material used in this capacity must be highly durable and strong. It must also be highly resistant to corrosion, heat, and pressure.

Depending significantly on the application requirements, valve plates can be made of filled and unfilled versions of PPS (Poly Phenylene Sulfide), PEEK (Poly Ether Ether Ketone), and nylon as plastic valve components. In addition, steel plate valve designs also exist and are used according to the property of the product being manufactured.

Changes in pressure in a compressor can automatically activate some plate valves while you can operate others via a handle, lever, or pedal. However, the frequent exposure of the valve plate to different pressures and temperatures makes it necessary to ensure that they are made of non-resilient, non-corroding, and rugged materials.

Compressor Valve Plate Design

Manufacturers always follow stringent specifications when it comes to manufacturing compressor valve plates. These specifications must be followed to the letter in order to ensure the valve plate meets the structural integrity requirements of the mechanism it will be part of.

For instance, the compressor valve assembly is industrial machinery’s integral and basic component. Therefore, the reciprocating compressor’s reliability, functionality, and safety depend significantly on its parts’ overall strength and dependability. This includes each valve plate that goes right into its assembly.

This is why compressor valve plates can also be made from materials such as:

  • Spring steel
  • Spheroidal graphite iron
  • Cast iron
  • Carbon steel
  • Stainless steel

These materials undergo special preparation, such as proper grounding as well as fine finishing. This ensures they are perfectly matched to other component pieces. The treatment also helps prevent micro-leaks within the valve plate assembly.

Bear in mind that a valve is a device or structure that readily adjusts the flow of gas or fluid. It functions by partially blocking, closing entirely, or opening completely the passageway where it is installed.

The Primary Role of a Compressor Valve Plate

Four major industries use reciprocating compressors heavily in their day-to-day processes, and the valve plate plays a unique role in each. The industries are:

  1. Natural Gas Industry
  2. Petroleum Refining Industry
  3. Petrochemicals Industry
  4. Hydrogen Stations

Some of the processes that compressors partake in and in which the valve plate contributes significantly include:

  • Extracting natural gases
  • Distillation of gases and liquids
  • Processing
  • Fueling energy cells and generators
  • Refining natural or synthetic materials
  • Compression and storage of gases, etc.

Using the right compressor valve plate type is essential in each case. This helps compress the stipulated material adequately while ensuring the valve plates ably withstand every element they are consistently exposed to during operations.

Therefore, here are the different roles the compressor valve plate plays in each of the industries highlighted above:

1. Natural Gas Industry

The valve plate in the reciprocating compressors used here helps in the extraction of natural gases from the bowels of the Earth. They also contribute to the refining of numerous gases in order to eliminate impurities and pack the pure or clean gases for transportation.

These valve plates are tough and durable enough to withstand every rough material they are exposed to. The materials have zero impact on the valve plates due to the latter’s toughness and resilience.

2. Petroleum Refining Industry

Reciprocating compressors contribute to the distillation of petroleum and generate adequate pressure during refining processes. This equipment also helps facilitate the process that causes the chemical reaction of different molecules at different pressures.

Some elements can only condense and purify the petroleum after there is an increase in pressure. For example, this industry’s compressor valve plate must have zero leakages at high pressures. They must also be capable of resisting corrosive gases that pass through them without deteriorating or breaking down.

3. Petrochemicals Industry

Petrochemicals refer to the materials or products that are obtained during the refining of petroleum. Compressor valve plates swing into action when the numerous products start separating one after the other during the refining process.

The valve plates measure and store the proper or adequate amount of olefins and petrochemicals. This makes it easier to package and transport these products to facilities where they are further processed into final products.

4. Hydrogen Stations

Several modern technologies use compressed hydrogen stations since hydrogen fuel cells are proven cheaper energy sources and cleaner than any other alternative. Compressed hydrogen – which comes about by the action of the reciprocating compressor on hydrogen – is used extensively in manufacturing electronics, pharmaceuticals, metals, etc.

Valve plates in compressors used in this industry must be capable of withstanding extreme pressure. This is because hydrogen is often compressed and reaches incredibly high rates every day.

Maintenance Tips

As a result of the consistent contribution of valve plates in compressor functionalities, damage may occur a bit more frequently than other compressor components.

Therefore, these maintenance tips will help prevent complete valve plate failure if implemented:

  • All valves must be lubricated for an effective and efficient operation.
  • Valves should only be used according to the specifications or direction of the manufacturer.
  • All valves must remain free of dirt or debris as much as possible
  • All defective valve plates must be duly replaced once they are discovered. This is to prevent more damage to other components within the compressor, which may cost a lot to fix.

Sticking to these tips will help prolong the life of the valve plate in particular and that of the reciprocating compressor.


Valve plates are highly essential in the day-to-day operations of a reciprocating compressor in several industries. Its primary use may be varied, but it has only one goal: to assist in the processing and manufacturing of a wide range of products.

From industry standards like Ariel compressor parts to Ingersoll Rand and Cooper Bessemer compressor parts, we carry compressor parts you can trust and the service you can count on.