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Relief Valve Reaction force Compilation

I combed through available material for the reaction force application in the closed
system. It seems like there is a standardized approach available for the open
discharge system reaction forces static analysis. It just applies the reaction force in
opposite direction of the flow at the point of discharge.
There are no theoretically backed simplified approach available for the application
of reaction forces in the closed system. However are two schools of thoughts for the
static analysis of the reaction forces due to relief valve.

Application of reaction force at every elbow up to the knockout drum. This

approach is backed by L.C Peng. This is the most conservative approach and
requires almost as much as time as doing actual dynamic analysis.
Application of the reaction force only at the last elbow before the discharge
pipe would dump the flow into the large diameter header. This approach
mirrors the open system approach. It assumes that the relief valve piping
discharges into the big enough main header that flow form relief valve pipe
does not pressurize the bigger header and therefore can be considered at the
atmospheric pressure. Please note that this is widely spread approach but it
is still a simplified approach. The biggest simplification here is the assumption
that relief valve opening/closing period will be more than the flow travel time
in the longest leg of the discharge piping. API 520 seems to agree with this
approach. Bullet 2 and 3 in the attached document expands on this. One
way of making this approach more conservative is to apply force at RV as well
as the last elbow.
a Reaction force @ last elbow in opposite direction of the flow
b Reaction force @ relive valve in the opposite direction of the flow,
upwards and opposite of leg of outlet piping.

1. Simplifi ed Approach: If it is NOT a C-M Design, all you need is to

observe the industry RULE on closed-discharge relief systems, viz: (1)
ignore the thrust loading, and (2) reinforce the branch connection to the
header or knock-out drum where it connects. The degree of reinforcement
depends on circumstances. For a low pressure system, a simple reinforcing
pad on branch will usually suffi ce. But for a higher pressure system relief,
like yours at 550 psi, acoustic vibration could come into play. Perhaps you
can use a full encirclement pad on header and a thick wall pipe branch
extending to a few diameter distance away.
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2. Example of reaction force direction:

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3. Static Equivalent
I risk a long post on this subject. Maybe will help someone to understand what we are not
able to count and why our approach is rather empirical.
Crosby manual says: "There are momentum effects and pressure effects at steady state flow
as well as transient dynamic loads caused by opening" and -in my opinion- this is valid for
either open or closed systems. There is a kind of similitude between "open" and "closed"
PSVs discharge piping handling gases, so a discussion may be forced on both cases.
Forces that are affecting the PSVs discharge piping are given by:
A.- a free jet effect in steady state flow
B.- unbalanced forces on each "piping leg" due to transient flow.
A. The "free jet effect" is the 3rd law of dynamics.

If a free jet is released in atmosphere or in a large volume, the piping system will receive a
reactive force. This is the force that API counts and is:
Reactive_Force= [mass flow-rate]*[jet_velocity]+ [p_jet]*[area_jet]
- mass flow rate must be the actual value (it is greater than the designed flow rate, because
the actual PSV orifice is larger than minimum required)
- jet_velocity is the critical speed when the jet gas flow has Mach=1 feature (it is not exactly
the speed of sound calculated as for a resting fluid, you may get some details in a fluid
Mechanics book on the critical speed and stagnation temperature concept) and is counted
as jet_velocity= sqrt(2*R*k*T/ ((k+1)*M)), where notations are as in API, R is the universal
perfect-gas constant , in SI is R=8314.5 J/kg mol/K.
- p_jet is the gauge pressure in the released jet (may be considered exactly as a steady state
simulation is showing, may be "guessed" with some formulas, may be considered
conservative as the pressure just downstream the PSV orifice, but definitely is not the
upstream PSV p_set)
- area_jet is the internal area of piping at the point where the jet is released
You may note this is exactly the API formula, where the numerical coefficient is sqrt(2*R), in
SI units sqrt(2*8314.5)=129
This long preliminary discussion is useful because we can be focused now on where this
force can appear.
You have this force exactly where there is a FREE jet.
That means:
- in an open system, where really the free fluid jet is released into atmosphere
- in a closed system, at the header connection, presuming your PSV is not pressurizing the
header- that is the header is counted as a large volume receiving the jet rather than a path
for flow
And...despite the common opinion, the problem of the true steady state force in the PSV is
very questionable. In the PSV orifice there is a flow at Mach=1 i.e a critical flow, but the jet is
radial released (it exists thru a lateral cylindrical surface) and its not a "free jet", because
there isnt a big volume in the PSVs body.
Roughly considering the steady state flow, there is a changing in fluid momentum, initially is
radial compensated, after that there is an impact with the PSV body- on about 2/3 on the
path flow- that generates a lot of turbulence, etc. By the other hand, we may consider a
model closed to those proposed by Brandmayer and Knebel, see the article "Steam Flow
Through Safety valve Vent Pipes", based on an one-dimensional model of the shocked flow .
My opinion is, in fact, we havent a realistic model for the steady state flow, exactly here,
in the PSV body, where the flow is not one-dimensional. Probably is not a significant value
and exactly for this reason, you cannot see, in API520 part II or B31.1 figures, this force as
horizontally applied on the PSV body, but for some safety reasons, the stress tradition asks
to count as this force exists, and I would say is more a way to be conservative rather to be
realistic. of course, this is just my opinion!
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4. Theoretical Basis: Closed Discharge System

When dealing with hazardous or toxic fluids such as radioactive steam and most
the over-pressured fluid is relieved to a close system for recycling, treatment, or proper
disposal. In
a closed system, the maximum flow is generally the same as the open discharge system,
unless it is
choked by the friction of excessive piping length. Therefore, the maximum reaction force
by the fluid leaving an elbow, and the impulse force produced by the fluid entering an elbow
can be
considered the same as the F1 force calculated for the open discharge system. If the friction
force is
ignored, then the force can be considered the same throughout the system.
For a piping leg between points n and n + 1 as shown in Fig. 12.20, there is an F1-shape
force acting
on end n and another F1-shape force acting at end n + 1. These two forces have the same
magnitudes, but are in opposite directions. Under the steady-state condition, there is no net
force because the two forces balance out each other. This balanced situation is maintained
even if the
friction is included. The situation is different during a transient condition, such as the initial
phase of
the safety valve relieving.
When the safety valve starts to pop open, the flow starts from nothing to the maximum as
shown in
Fig. 12.18. The flow compresses the fluid inside the discharge pipe and transmits the
pushing effect
to the downstream either by wave motion or by actual flow velocity. In any case, for a safety
discharge, the wave speed and the flow speed are considered the same. The force will have
the same
time history shape throughout the piping, but the arriving time is different at each point.
This is called
a traveling wave, which occurs in many types of piping hydraulic transients. Because of this
time difference, each pipe leg experiences a net shaking force, whose magnitude depends
mainly on
the length of the pipe leg.

To estimate the net force on a piping leg, we consider both ends of the pipe leg to receive
the same
force time history but at different starting time points. As shown in Fig. 12.20(a), the force
arrives at
end n at time tn, but the same force arrives at end n + 1 Dt time later at tn + 1. Since the
forces at both
ends have different signs, the net force at any given time instant is the difference of the two
end forces.
Figure 12.20(a) shows the actual net force time history, whereas Fig. 12.20(b) shows the
idealized net
force time history. The idealized net force is constructed with the idealized ramp relieving
force. The
net shaking force time history has the maximum force of Fmax.
Because the force wave travels at sonic velocity, the force arriving time at both ends differ
Dt = L/a
where a is the sonic velocity with respect to the fluid inside the pipe. If the leg is sufficiently
long, the
time difference becomes greater than the valve opening time. In this case, the force at nend reaches
the maximum before (n + 1)-end has any force to counterbalance it. The maximum net
shaking force
of the leg, in this case, is the same as the maximum relieving force, F1. When Dt is smaller
than the
effective valve opening time to, the maximum net force can be calculated by the idealized
forcing function

If the pipe leg is very long with a Dt greater than the effective valve opening time, the net
force starts
when the flow or wave front reaches the first elbow. It eventually reaches the maximum then
at a constant force the same as F1. The net force starts to reduce when the initial flow or
wave front
reaches the second elbow. It eventually reduces to zero, and the flow becomes steady when
the peak
of the force reaches the second elbow.
The discussion given above is based on the opening of the valve. A similar net shaking force,
a reverse direction, also results during the closing of the valve. The opening force and
closing force
are generally well separated by a few seconds, so they are considered as two independent
events in
the structural response. The two forces can overlap each other during short pops, but with

smaller forces. The above discusses only the concept of idealized discharge forces. For
safety/relief valve discharging forces, the approaches developed by Moody [21] and other
authors can
be used.
The net shaking force at each pipe leg, applied with a proper DLF, can be used in performing
equivalent static analysis of the piping system. The DLF can be taken from the appropriate
or combination of shapes given in Figs. 12.5 and 12.6. Although the forces are all acting at
times, it is necessary to apply the forces all at the same time in a static analysis. The timehistory analysis,
on the other hand, can consider the actual force shapes and arriving times at different
[Pipe Stress Engineering by Liang-Chuan (L.C.) Peng and Tsen-Loong (Alvin)