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Emerson Opens Innovation Center for Valves

The $30 million Fisher Technology facility devotes 136,000 square feet to solving some of the toughest engineering challenges faced by the process and energy industries.

Emerson dedicated the new, $30 million Emerson Innovation Center in Marshalltown, Iowa, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 11
Emerson dedicated the new, $30 million Emerson Innovation Center in Marshalltown, Iowa, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 11

“To a valve engineer, saying ‘I’ve been to Marshalltown,' is like saying 'I’ve been to heaven,' ” proclaimed Emerson Electric Corp. ( Chief Operating Officer Ed Monser while delivering the keynote address at the public unveiling of the new Emerson Innovation Center, Fisher Technology, on May 11 in Marshalltown, Iowa.

More than 115 people representing customers, Emerson employees and media gathered to participate in the opening, and tour the facility’s many labs. According to Terry Buzbee, president of the Fisher business for Emerson Process Management (, the Austin, Texas-based automation supplier, “This $30 million investment is designed to help customers tackle the toughest engineering challenges facing today’s process manufacturing and energy industries.” Buzbee also noted that this year is the 130th anniversary of Fisher.

The world’s appetite for energy is driving the development of next-generation nuclear plants, mega-train liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants and large oil and gas refineries, which require larger capacities and highly engineered control valves and instrumentation. According to the company, the 136,000-square-foot Center is designed to help companies deliver record volumes of natural gas and other forms of energy and consume less in the process, reducing costs and making plants run quieter and with reduced greenhouse emissions. The facility is used for research and development in flow technologies, testing of new products during the product development process and testing of customer application designs. The larger flow capacity lets engineers perform real-world tests on a greater array of products.


“No other facility in the world can do what our Marshalltown Emerson Innovation Center can do—from seismically qualifying a 35,000-pound control valve to testing a two-story-tall valve that controls the flow of feedstocks for a petrochemical plant,” declared Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management. “This $30 million investment in innovation directly reflects Emerson’s commitment to helping our customers run smarter plants that improve production quality, lower operations and maintenance costs, and enhance environmental performance and worker safety.”

Emerson, whose Fisher valves are installed in more than 90 percent of the world's nuclear facilities, is able to provide seismic qualification of its valves at the new Innovation Center, which is critically important to making nuclear plants safe and reliable during earthquakes. Emerson was recently awarded contracts to provide its Fisher control valves for Westinghouse Electric Co.’s newest generation of nuclear power plants.

“We are very pleased to be working with Emerson Process Management for control valves on our AP1000 nuclear power plant,” said William Rice, Westinghouse director of engineering. “We plan to take advantage of this new facility to prove out critical operating characteristics, under the actual passive heat-removal system service conditions, for one of Fisher’s unique large control valves designed to meet our requirements.”

The Center’s flow lab has enough capacity to fill an Olympic-sized pool in just over eight minutes, or a Goodyear blimp in about 12 seconds. Control valves can be tested at pressures up to 3,500 pounds per square inch (psig), the equivalent of providing enough force to support a sport utility vehicle on a postage stamp.

The Center also is home to a 26,000-square-foot sound chamber in which Emerson can develop and verify noise levels of new devices before a customer’s plant is built. The center required almost 2 million pounds of process piping, more than 1,600 feet of 30-in. and 36-in. pipe, seven underground air storage tanks each more than 150 feet long, and more than 4,500 cubic yards of concrete.

New valve products

Emerson also announced several new products at the event. First was the marrying of its easy-Drive electric actuator to its D2, D3 and D4 valves for natural gas applications. Often used in remote areas with limited power resources, the valves are usually powered pneumatically from the natural gas itself. These low-power electric actuators will prevent that natural gas from being released to the atmosphere and diverted into the pipe for sale instead.

The Fisher VBL volume booster is used in conjunction with a positioner on a throttling control valve to increase stroking speed. The booster incorporates fixed deadband, soft seat construction and an integral bypass restriction to eliminate positioner saturation problems that can occur with volume boosters that do not have these features.

The Control-Disk valve series has been extended with new line sizes. The Vee-Ball family of valves has been extended with the addition of the V150E, which is designed for installation directly to a medium consistency pump discharge flange. It features an expanded outlet to accommodate larger diameter transfer lines.

Emerson Process Management, Fisher

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