A butterfly valve is from a family of valves called quarter-turn valves. In operation, the valve is fully open or closed when the disc is rotated a quarter turn. The "butterfly" is a metal disc mounted on a rod. When the valve is closed, the disc is turned so that it completely blocks off the passageway. When the valve is fully open, the disc is rotated a quarter turn so that it allows an almost unrestricted passage of the fluid. The valve may also be opened incrementally to throttle flow.
Operation is similar to that of a ball valve, which allows for quick shut off. Butterfly valves are generally favored because they are lower in cost to other valve designs as well as being lighter in weight, meaning less support is required. The disc is positioned in the center of the pipe; passing through the disc is a rod connected to an actuator on the outside of the valve. Rotating the actuator turns the disc either parallel or perpendicular to the flow. Unlike a ball valve, the disc is always present within the flow, so a pressure drop is always induced in the flow, regardless of valve position.
There are many different valves for a vast range of purposes, but the main functions of a valve are always: