How Zahroof’s One Idea Upended a Century of Valves
In an everchanging world with increasing advancements and inventions, there was one area that remained the same for nearly a hundred years: valves for reciprocating compressors. Most people don’t think of compressor valves, but they are critical for a number of things that touch our daily lives, including the oil and gas, refrigeration and the chemical industry. However, a significant change was made with the launch of the Straight Flow Valve, an invention by Zahroof Mohamed, President and founder of Zahroof Valves Inc. With over 20 years of experience in top engineering and R&D positions, he has successfully delivered several new products from concept to market in a segment that hadn’t seen significant innovation in a century.
Among Zahroof’s previous experience is Chief Engineer of Samsung Techwin’s Power Systems group, and Principal Engineer at Cameron. Zahroof received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from the College of Engineering, Trivandrum and his MS in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University, College Station.
In 2010, Zahroof Mohamed founded Zahroof Valves Inc. (ZVI), a company that develops and markets a unique and groundbreaking compressor valve based on the Modular Reed Valve technology developed by Zahroof. We talked with Zahroof about his experience and lessons learned along the way.
What is the origin of Zahroof Valves and the journey that brought you here?
I realized one day that valves for reciprocating compressors haven’t really changed for a hundred years and represented a great business opportunity. Based on my engineering experience, I believed I could come up with a new design that was far more efficient, reliable and easy to service. This lead to the birth of the “Modular Reed Valve.” So, operating out of my house, I wrote a comprehensive simulation program to analyze the valve dynamics in a compressor cylinder using these valves. and conducted a successful feasibility test of the technology by the middle of 2010.
In December 2010, I founded Zahroof Valves to commercialize the application of the Modular Reed Valve (MRV) technology for reciprocating compressors, especially targeting the oil and gas energy industry.
The various stages of growth and expansion have led ZVI to have operations in the United States, Canada, Australia and Eastern Europe. ZVI has earned notable recognitions such as the 2013 Land-based Pipeline Technology Award, the 2016 Edison Award in the “Carbon Reduction” category and various other awards.
Could you please tell me more about the product that Zahroof Valves offers? I understand that your valves also benefit the environment?
ZVI offers a drop-in replacement reciprocating compressor valve for all brands and applications of reciprocating compressors that can be applied at speeds from 200 rpm to 3600 rpm, and for most gases.
Improving compressor efficiency with our valves reduces fuel consumption and engine emissions. Due to the improved reliability of Zahroof valves, emissions related to compressor service can be reduced dramatically. By taking a compressor service from every two to four weeks to more than two years, emissions can be reduced dramatically. The valve design results in significantly reduced noise and vibration. This makes our valves an easy way for companies to approach their green environmental standards.
What makes Zahroof Valves stand out from its competitors?
Zahroof Valves offers better efficiency, with 3 to 18% better compressor efficiency depending on the application. This means lower power, less fuel consumed, lower engine emissions and hence a better carbon footprint. ZVI guarantees a 20% improvement in valve losses compared to the valve it replaces in an application.
Conventional valves are shipped to a precision machine shop to be serviced, and requires skilled operators to machine the valves back into working conditions. Zahroof Valves offers greater ease of service because no machining is required. Servicing involves replacing bad modules with new ones, and can be done on site by a person with no special machining skills. ZVI offers a 10-year warranty on the valve housings as a result – compared to 6 months for conventional valves.
Zahroof valves are more tolerant to liquids and debris in the gas stream. Normally, we see an improvement in the life and reliability of valves that is a factor of 5 to 10 that of conventional valves. Therefore, ZVI guarantees at least a 100% improvement in life with our valves for the given application.
What is your long-term vision for the company and its industry?
Our goal is to have every critical compressor using a Zahroof valve. We also envision OEM compressor companies using the benefits of our technology to make changes to the compressor cylinder to dramatically improve compressor performance and reliability. Also, the possibility to make compressors quieter, more efficient and smaller for the same work.
What has been your most rewarding professional experience?
To take a completely new technology from concept, validate it by tests and convince customers, in a very conservative industry that is resistant to change, to apply it to their most critical applications based on measurements and results.
Were you ever influenced by other entrepreneurs?
Yes, my great grandfather, grandfather, grand uncle and father were all entrepreneurs. When I was thinking about starting the company, I went to the Rice Innovation symposium to see how different entrepreneurs built their companies and presented it to potential investors. While building my company, I’ve come across several entrepreneurs who have all influenced me in some way or another.
What have you learned about yourself while running your company?
I’ve learned that I have the drive and capability to establish a company, motivate others to share my vision and work towards a common goal. Also, I can market my vision, convince others to see the benefits of my technology and invest in it. I have brought together very capable people who can and have contributed to the success of the company.
How do you define success?
I believe success is when both your personal and professional goals are met. I believe ZVI is well on its way to being a success. I have a wonderful family with both my sons doing really well.
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