Essential Information You Should Know About Sanitary Control Valves

Sanitary control valves are critical components in industries like pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, food and beverage, and cosmetics due to their stringent cleanliness requirements. Here’s an overview of their core principles and operational details.

Core Principles of Sanitary Control Valves


Sanitary control valves are designed to regulate the flow of liquids or gases in pipelines while maintaining strict hygienic standards. They ensure that the media being processed, whether in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, food and beverage production, or cosmetics manufacturing, remains uncontaminated and within specified process conditions.


These valves are typically made from materials such as stainless steel, which is non-reactive and corrosion-resistant. The design emphasizes smooth surfaces and eliminates dead-legs (areas where product can stagnate), minimizing crevices that could harbor bacteria or product residue. This design feature supports easy cleaning and sterilization processes, crucial for maintaining sanitary conditions.

Cleaning and Sterilization

Sanitary control valves are engineered to withstand rigorous cleaning and sterilization methods like Clean-in-Place (CIP) and Steam-in-Place (SIP). These procedures allow the valves and associated piping systems to be thoroughly cleaned without disassembly, ensuring that they meet stringent hygiene standards and remain free from contamination between production runs.


These valves can be operated manually or automated. Manual operation involves using a handwheel or lever to adjust the valve position directly. In contrast, automated operation utilizes electric or pneumatic actuators, which are controlled remotely via a process control system. Automation enhances precision and allows for integration with complex manufacturing processes, ensuring consistent performance and adherence to process parameters.


To prevent leakage and maintain hygiene, sanitary control valves incorporate high-purity elastomers or plastics for sealing components. These materials are selected for their ability to withstand frequent cleaning cycles and sterilization processes without compromising their sealing properties. Effective sealing is critical to preventing product contamination and ensuring the integrity of the process.

Standards Compliance

Sanitary control valves are subject to stringent industry standards and regulations to ensure they meet hygiene and safety requirements. Standards such as 3A sanitary standards (common in North America), FDA regulations (in the United States), and EHEDG guidelines (in Europe) provide benchmarks for design, materials, and manufacturing processes. Compliance with these standards is essential for industries where product purity and consumer safety are paramount.

Types of Sanitary Control Valves

There are several types of sanitary control valves, each suited to different applications based on flow characteristics, pressure, temperature, and the specific requirements of the process:

Sanitary Ball Valves: Utilize a rotating ball with a bore through it to control flow. They are well-suited for on/off applications and can handle high-pressure and temperature conditions effectively.

Sanitary Butterfly Valves: Feature a disc positioned in the center of the pipe. Rotation of the disc by an actuator allows for flow regulation and on/off control. Butterfly valves are valued for their compact design and cost-effectiveness.

Sanitary Diaphragm Valves: Use a flexible diaphragm that moves up and down to control flow. When closed, the diaphragm forms a tight seal against the valve body, preventing any media from passing through. Diaphragm valves are preferred in applications requiring high levels of cleanliness and where contamination risks must be minimized.

Sanitary Check Valves: Designed to allow flow in only one direction, preventing backflow of media. They are critical in systems where maintaining the direction of flow is essential to prevent contamination or process disruption.

Sanitary Plug Valves: Employ a cylindrical or conical plug with a hole that can be rotated to control flow. Plug valves are often used in applications where rapid opening and closing of the valve are necessary.

Sanitary Pressure Relief Valves: Serve as safety valves that automatically release excess pressure from a system when it exceeds a preset level. This protects equipment and ensures safe operation, particularly in processes involving pressurized fluids or gases.

Operation of Sanitary Control Valves

Sanitary control valves operate similarly to other types of control valves but with specific considerations for hygiene and cleanliness:

Signal Reception

The operation typically begins with a signal from a process monitoring system. This signal indicates the need for an adjustment in flow rate, pressure, or temperature based on real-time process conditions.

Actuator Response

Upon receiving the signal, the actuator (either electric or pneumatic) responds by adjusting the position of the valve. The actuator is connected to the valve stem, which in turn moves the closure element (disc, plug, or diaphragm) to either open, close, or partially restrict the flow of media through the valve.

Flow Regulation

The closure element within the valve body physically controls the flow of media. In an open position, the element allows media to flow through the valve, while in a closed position, it forms a seal against the valve seat to stop flow completely. Partially restricting the flow can regulate the rate of flow through the system.


When the valve is in the closed position, the sealing components (such as elastomers or plastics) ensure a tight seal between the closure element and the valve seat. This seal prevents any leakage of media, maintaining the integrity of the process and preventing contamination.

Return to Normal Operation

Once the desired process conditions are achieved, the process control system sends a signal to the actuator to return the valve to its normal operating state. This may involve fully opening, fully closing, or adjusting to a specific flow rate, pressure, or temperature setpoint.

Cleaning and Sterilization:

Sanitary control valves are designed to facilitate easy cleaning and sterilization procedures. CIP and SIP methods allow cleaning agents or steam to flow through the valve and associated piping systems without disassembly. This ensures that all internal surfaces are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, eliminating any potential sources of contamination before the next production cycle.

Types of Applications

Sanitary control valves find application in a wide range of industries and processes where maintaining high levels of hygiene and process integrity is critical:

Pharmaceutical Industry: Used in drug manufacturing processes where strict adherence to hygiene standards and regulatory requirements is essential to ensure product safety and efficacy.

Biotechnology: Employed in bioprocessing applications for the production of vaccines, antibodies, and other biologics, where maintaining sterile conditions is paramount to prevent contamination and ensure product purity.

Food and Beverage Production: Integral to food processing and beverage production, where sanitary conditions are necessary to meet food safety regulations and maintain product quality.

Cosmetics Manufacturing: Utilized in the production of skincare products, cosmetics, and personal care items, where maintaining product purity and preventing contamination is crucial for consumer safety and regulatory compliance.


Sanitary control valves are indispensable components in industries requiring stringent hygiene standards. Their design, operation, and compliance with regulatory standards ensure the integrity of processes and the safety of products. Understanding the principles and types of sanitary control valves allows industries to select and implement these valves effectively, ensuring efficient and hygienic production processes.