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A ball valve is a form of quarter-turn valve which uses a hollow, perforated and pivoting ball (called a "floating ball") to control flow through it. It is open when the ball's hole is in line with the flow and closed when it is pivoted 90-degrees by the valve handle. The handle lies flat in alignment with the flow when open, and is perpendicular to it when closed, making for easy visual confirmation of the valve's status.
Ball valves are durable, performing well after many cycles, and reliable, closing securely even after long periods of disuse. These qualities make them an excellent choice for shutoff applications, where they are often preferred to gates and globe valves, but they lack their fine control in throttling applications.
The ball valve's ease of operation, repair, and versatility lend it to extensive industrial use, supporting pressures up to 1000 bar and temperatures up to 752oF (500oC), depending on design and materials used. Sizes typically range from 0.2 to 48 inches (0.5 cm to 121 cm). Valve bodies are made of metal, plastic, or metal with a ceramic; floating balls are often chrome plated for durability.
A ball valve should not be confused with a "ball-check valve", a type of check valve that uses a solid ball to prevent undesired backflow.