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15 Relief Valves—Determination PRV

of Required Capacity
Flow Sheet Symbol
W. F. SCHLEGEL (1969, 1982) R. V. BOYD AND B. P. GUPTA (1995)

B. G. LIPTÁK (2003)*

INTRODUCTION requirements of unfired pressure vessels. The requirements of
these two sections yield different results, and neither of the
Protection against overpressure is one of the most important two sections covers the pressure relief requirements of storage
design tasks in the chemical, petrochemical, oil, and gas vessels, which are designed for pressures under 15 PSIG.
industries. The various causes of overpressure fall into two
broad categories: fire conditions and process conditions. The Excerpts from ASME Code
purpose of overpressure protection systems is to reduce or UG-125(c)—All pressure vessels other than unfired steam
eliminate the potential for overpressure-initiated explosions boilers shall be protected by pressure-relieving devices that
and fires. shall prevent the pressure from rising more than 10% or 3 psi,
For the sizing, selection, and specification of pressure whichever is greater, above the maximum allowable working
relief valves (PRVs), refer to the next section; for a discussion pressure except as permitted in (1) and (2). (See UG-134 for
of rupture disks, see Section 7.17. In this section, the deter- pressure settings.)
mination of the required relief capacity is discussed. The
section begins with an explanation of the methods for relief (1) When multiple pressure-relieving devices are provided
capacity determination for fire protection. The second half and set in accordance with UG-134(a), they shall pre-
of the section discusses some relief capacity determination vent the pressure from rising more than 16% or 4 psi,
techniques for other, nonfire process causes of overpressure whichever is greater, above the maximum allowable
conditions. This section is concluded by a listing of PRV- working pressure.
related terms and definitions, followed by a bibliography. (2) Where an additional hazard can be created by exposure
of a pressure vessel to fire or other unexpected sources
of external heat, supplemental pressure-relieving
devices shall be installed to protect against excessive
pressure. Such supplemental pressure-relieving devices
Four major sets of codes and standards need to be considered
shall be capable of preventing the pressure from rising
when designing pressure relief systems. These have been
more than 21% above the maximum allowable working
prepared by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers
(ASME), the American Petroleum Institute (API), the pressure. The same pressure-relieving devices may be
National Fire Protection Association, and the Occupational used to satisfy the capacity requirements of (c) or (c)(1)
Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). and this paragraph provided the pressure setting
requirements of UG-134(a) are met.
ASME Codes (3) Pressure relief devices, intended primarily for protec-
tion against exposure of a pressure vessel to fire or other
The pressure relief requirements of both boilers and of pres- unexpected sources of external heat installed on vessels
sure vessels are covered in the ASME Boiler and Pressure having no permanent supply connection and used for
Vessel Code. Section I of this code describes the requirements storage at ambient temperatures of nonrefrigerated liq-
for steam generators, fired boilers, and associated tanks, uefied compressed gasses, are excluded from the
whereas Section VIII of this code covers the pressure relief requirements of (c)(1) and (c)(2), provided:

*B. P. Gupta and W. Y. Wong should also be credited for work on this section.

© 2003 by Béla Lipták

Flammable and Combustible Liquids 16% above the maximum allowable working pressure when • NFPA 58. steam. Venting Atmospheric and Low- 5% above or 5% below that for which the safety or relief Pressure Storage Tanks (Nonrefrigerated and Refrig- valve is marked. sure from rising more than 20% above the maximum as protection against excessive pressure caused by exposure allowable working pressure of the vessels. Seat Tightness of Pressure 90% of the average capacity of the three valves tested. 7th ed. 2000 ed.8 bars]. NFPA Codes UG-133(a)—As permitted in (b). Failure to meet this require. API Standards and Recommended Practices UG-126(b)—Pilot-operated pressure relief valves may be used. Guide for Pressure- below that for which the valve is marked. ing 70 psi and 3% for pressures above 70 psi [4. Sizing. (d) the maximum allowable working pressure of the UG-134(d)(1)—The set pressure tolerance for pressure relief vessels on which these devices are installed is valves shall not exceed ±2 psi for pressures up to and includ- greater than the vapor pressure of the stored lique. Handling © 2003 by Béla Lipták . and pressure setting. shall have a relieving (b) the set pressure of these devices shall not exceed the capacity sufficient to prevent the pressure from rising more maximum allowable working pressure of the vessels. Manual on Installa- capacity for each set of three valves shall fall within a range tion of Refinery Instruments and Control Systems of ±5% of the average capacity. For higher pres- Relieving and Depressuring Systems sures. UG-126(c)— The spring in a pressure relief valve in service and Installation of Pressure-Relieving Devices in for pressures up to and including 250 psi [17. design. erated). when exposed to external fire. Inspection of Pressure-Relieving Devices ment shall be cause to refuse certification of that particular safety valve design. plus or minus. the spring shall not be reset for any pressure more than • API Standard 2000. temperature that the gas will reach under atmo- spheric conditions. The most often used shall be sufficient to carry off the maximum quantity that can NFPA codes are the following: be generated or supplied to the attached equipment without permitting a rise in pressure within the vessel of more than • NFPA 30. oil refineries tend to base their pressure relief will open automatically at not over the set pressure and will system designs on the API standards and recommended prac- discharge its full rated capacity if some essential part of the tices (RPs). • API PR 576. January 2000 not be reset for any pressure more than 10% above or 10% • API Recommended Practice 521. Selection.8 bars]. 15 PSIG.2 bars] shall Refineries. follows: • API Recommended Practice 520. Some of the other API standards and recommended practices that are relevant to PRV system design include the UG-131(d)(1)—A capacity certification test is required on a following: set of three valves for each combination of size. and UG-134(d)(2)—The set pressure tolerance of pressure relief (e) pressure relief valves used to satisfy these provisions valves which comply with UG-125(c)(3) shall be within −0%. The stamped capacity rating for each com. fied compressed gas at the maximum anticipated except as covered in (d)(2). • API Standard 526. provided that the pilot is self-actuated and the main valve In general. the aggregate capacity of the For determining the required relieving capacity from tanks pressure-relieving devices connected to any vessel or system and storage vessels. +10%. UG-131(c)(2). UG-126(d)—The set pressure tolerances.8 bars] and 3% for pressures above for storage vessels. The • API Recommended Practice 550. of The API 2000 standard is also widely used in other indus- pressure relief valves shall not exceed 2 psi for pressures up tries beyond refineries to set the pressure relief requirements to and including 70 psi [4. and test pressure shall not exceed • API Standard 527. UG-133(b)—Protective devices as permitted in UG-125(c)(2).974 Safety and Miscellaneous Sensors (a) the relief devices are capable of preventing the pres. also comply with the requirements of UG-129(a)(5).. condition. Flanged Steel Pressure Relief Valves bination of design. or other vapor API and the NFPA codes can be used. Storage and the pressure-relieving devices are blowing. size. air. which are designed for pressures under 70 psi [4. Liquefied Petroleum Gases. both the of vessels for the release of a liquid. to fire or other sources of external heat. The most widely used API documents are as pilot should fail. and UG-134(e)(2). than 21% above the maximum allowable working pressure (c) the vessels have sufficient ullage to avoid a liquid full of the vessel when all pressure-relieving devices are blowing.

neer does not need to consider the possibility of the simul- taneous occurrence of more than one cause of overpressure. etc. coolant. for example. triple redundancy. a chemical reactor PRV has A = (F′A′)/ Pu 7.110.15 Relief Valves—Determination of Required Capacity 975 OSHA Codes been sized to handle the largest of overpressure causes from among fire. Move the vessel away from the process area or sur- accepts automatic process control as a substitute for the instal. lation of PRVs. PRVs sized in accordance with API RP for PRVs. to date. round it by a dike or a firewall. tory require different approaches for protection against over- Substituting for Pressure Relief Devices pressure. and design engineers should consider API RP 521 for determining the PRV size required when the tank is exposed In general it is not recommended to accept fail-safe instru. uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs). Provide automatic fire monitoring and automatic fire Murphy’s Law) if it is possible to forget to drain a pipeline fighting capability. of its toxic or hazardous content. This is 4.15(1) © 2003 by Béla Lipták . 30 ft above grade). is exposed to external fire and has unwetted surface area can In the overpressure analysis of a plant. because human error can never be fully eliminated. The OSHA codes that relate to the design of pressure safety that is sufficient. Flammable and Combustible Liquids • OSHA 1910. the following invention of high integrity protective systems (HIPSs). 5. matter what the administrative procedure says. This is because the reliability of control systems 520 cannot give overpressure protection to gas-filled tanks. Valve or process control failure is the determination of the applicable heat flux. it will happen.119. systems. 25 ft. 7. It is not necessary to consider their simul- systems are the following: taneous occurrence and size the PRV for the sum of two or more of these causes. One excep- tion involves the use of car seals open (CSO) and car seals Heat Absorption Across Unwetted Surfaces The effective locked (CSL) valves. • OSHA 1910. In the second category. These will be discussed after the treatment of fire such that. Blocked outlets will be separately discussed below. NFPA. Bury the tank under ground and cover it with earth. Runaway chemical reaction Gas-Filled Tanks 7.15(2). steam. Provide automatic vapor depressurization. 2.. options should also be considered: gency power supplies (EPSs). Liquefied Petroleum Gases • OSHA 1910. the code requires that relief devices be sized causes. For vessels with adequate liquid inventory. Human error If the vessel does not have an adequate liquid inventory.106. run-away chemical reaction. the vessel pres- protection that follows in the next paragraph. and “two out of three” voting 1. emer. Their reliability has increased substantially by the mable gas-filled vessels is being designed. which can be the failure of electric relief capacity under fire conditions is a function of tank area power. Elevate the vessel over the fire height (API. Overpressure can be caused by fire and by nonfire process External fire is a potential overpressure source. the required 1. (according to 6. Thermal expansion and of the latent heat of the process fluid. Process Safety Management FIRE PROTECTION CAUSES OF OVERPRESSURE The ASME Unfired Pressure Vessel Code requires that pres- sure vessels covered by the code be adequately relieved. be determined by Equations 7. there is no code or regulation that 2. the various safety oriented administrative pro. 3. if. stress rupture can occur from overheated spots long before the inter- It should be emphasized that part of the goal of a safe plant nal pressure in the tank would reach the setting of the PRV. there can be many potential fire conditions. for causes. and no 5. of the heat flux per unit area of tank surface. instrument air. has not advanced to the point where they are completely Therefore. These three factors 3. the design engi. The first to be discussed 4. therefore. loss of utilities. when the installation of hydrogen or other flam- reliable. Yet. This is referred to as 20% accumulation. The potential sure does not exceed the vessel design pressure by more than nonfire causes of overpressure include the following: 20%. Utility failures. Use a water deluge system or install fireproof insulation. gas-filled tanks and vessels with low liquid inven- error.15(1) and 7. which API RP 520 and 521 accept as discharge area of a relief valve required to protect a vessel that means of guaranteeing that equipment will not be blocked in. ments or the actions of automatic control loops as substitutes In most cases. Equipment failure 6. cedures cannot be used as substitutes for PRVs. to fire and some or most of its inner surface is not wetted. design is the goal of minimizing the opportunities for human Therefore. at maximum relieving conditions. In other words. Similarly. or fuel exposed to fire.

it is that it will be completely immersed in flames.15a. T1 = PuTn/Pn 7. 30. Under such an assumption.1406/CKd)[(Tw − T1) /T1 ] 7. can be assumed to be determining heat flux under fire conditions. A liquid inventory is usually considered Q = total heat absorption of wetted surface area exposed “adequate” if it will last for at least 15 min during an external to fire. This is the rate at which heat is transferred into the 1. The two formulas are given in be 1. which. the fire protection rules for gas-filled tanks F = environmental factor. If it does not. can be assumed to vessel that is exposed to fire. Once the liquid is gone. The amount and quality of the insulation provided on 2 A = the effective discharge area of the PRV valve. reasoning that the larger the tank. the amount of heat 520 for additional details. The method applied to drain the flammable materials of the atmospheric.000F(A) 0. the response time of the fire fighters at the plant. BTU per hour per square foot of total wetted surface of a for carbon steel plate materials.25 0. the vessel becomes a Q = 21. The wetted surface areas of the vessel and the connected used in the determination of heat flux under fire conditions is associated piping in the recommendations of NFPA Bulletin No.15c. refer to Table 7. Kd = the coefficient of discharge of the PRV.500F(A) 7. absorption will depend on the following: NFPA Recommendations Another standard that is commonly 1.15(4) is applicable if the means for Low Liquid Inventory Tanks both prompt fire-fighting capability and adequate drainage of flammable materials away from the tank are provided (ground The definition of what is “adequate” in terms of liquid inven. PSIA 2000).15(2) determination methods can be considered. and for a approaches relate the magnitude of the heat flux to the size curve relating this ratio to coefficient C. For the specific heat ratio (k) of 2 2 to be a constant rate of 20.976 Safety and Miscellaneous Sensors where 2. with over 1% slope). one for tanks with adequate drainage away from T1 = the gas temperature in °R at the upstream relieving the tank. which is exposed to 3. which is the sum 4. Equation 7. ft Heat Flux Across Wetted Surfaces The reader should consult the API Recommended Practice When a vessel is exposed to external fire.15(5) is applicable if they tory is a function of the time required to evaporate that are not.15(2) as follows: heat flux. pressure (Pu). It is calculated by Equation 7. and the other for tanks without adequate drainage. Other a number of gases. away from the tank pressure.15b. This bulletin 0.15(3) A graphic representation of the formula for the adequate as follows: drainage condition is shown in Figure 7. 1. This time period has Q = 34. °R the total heat absorption of wetted surface areas under fire conditions.15d.15(3) Total Heat Absorption where API Recommendation API RP 520. refer to of the vessel.82 7. inventory during a fire vs. BTU/hr fire. the set pressure.0 or less 2 A = the total wetted surface area of the tank. PSIA To determine the required relief capacity of a tank that The environmental factor F′ is calculated from Equation is exposed to external fire. and the over. The simplest technique assumes that the heat flux is fixed where and does not depend on the type and size of the vessel C = a constant that depends on the specific heat ratio of involved. The quality and availability of the fire-fighting equip- 2 fire.15(5) to take into account the location of the fire-fighting equipment and the quality of the automatic fire monitoring instrumen. where tation in the plant. presents two widely used equations for determining Tn = the normal operating gas temperature. Flammable © 2003 by Béla Lipták .6506 vessel or other process equipment.100°F Table 7. ft ment in the plant Pu = the upstream relieving pressure. a constant having a value of should be used.82 The minimum time is 10 to 15 min. in. for API RP 521 provides one commonly used method for preliminary sizing purposes. the tank and piping surfaces A′ = the surface area of the vessel.15(4) gas-filled tank.000 BTU/hr/ft (63 kW/m ). Equation 7. A number of heat flux F′ = (0. the less likely Figure 7. which. it is necessary to determine the 7. seventh edition (January Pn = the normal operating gas pressure. 0.975 gives two recommendations for calculating the heat flux in Tw = the expected wall temperature of the tank. the heat flux is taken the particular gas.

13 0.6 Air 29.973 437 454 156 1. American Petroleum Institute and is presented in their bul- Table 7.19 0.27 0.176 1306 213 −77 4.519 1071 88 −109 2. ASTM Special Technical Publication No.4–7.11 0.19 0.01 1. PA.453 667 197 −54 2.554 673 −116 −259 5. 3 a Isopentane 72.15e lists the equations recommended by NFPA letin API-RP-2000.29 0.04 0.058 718 90 −128 2.08 1.12 1.12 0.944 362 564 258 0.7 a n-Hexane 86. Engineering Data Book. Tulsa.08 0.588 1636 270 −28 15.2–7.4–9.8 a Ethylene 28.912 304 632 345 0.969 742 50 −155 2.54 0.87–2.31 0.59 2.54 0. Their recommendations are likely to PSIG (104 kPa) and used for the storage of flammable liquids. Low-Pressure Tanks For above-ground tanks and storage ciation is an organization of insurance companies and regu.11 1. Gas Processors Suppliers Association. for informational purposes only. © 2003 by Béla Lipták .08 0.96– a n-Nonane 128.58 1.08 0. References: 1.96 1.491 483 369 82 1.8 2. 2.58 2. New York.60 4.02 1. 3 a Isobutane 58.59 2.07 1. National Fire Codes of the National Fire Protection Associ- lating the equivalent air flow for tanks exposed to external fire.491 490 386 97 1.13 1. Physical Constants of Hydrocarbons C1 to C10 .59 1.0–15.32 0.10 1. 3 Ammonia 17.7–34. 3 dioxide Hydrogen 2.5 a Propylene 47.007 529 273 11 1.5–27.522 617 206 −44 2.55 2. International-Critical Tables.15a Properties of Gases Critical Flow Specific Condensation Specific Heat Pressure Gravity Critical Constants Temperature Flammability Ratio (k = Cp /Cv) Ratio at 60°F at 60°F One Limits (volume Molecular at 60°F and One and One and One Pressure Temperature Atmosphere percent in air Gas Weight Atmosphere Atmosphere Atmosphere (psia) (°F) (°F) mixture) References Methane 16.12 1.09 1. 1977.0 Toluene 92.01 1.41 0.3 2. 1963.03 0.9–13.22 1.13 1. 109A.0696 188 −400 −423 4.1 2.53 1.4–8. This method is also referred to in the for the determination of total heat absorption and for calcu.0 Ethane 30.60 3. 3 a n-Octane 114.9 a n-Decane 142.15 Relief Valves—Determination of Required Capacity 977 TABLE 7. OK.0–7.7 Benzene 78.04 1.0 2.23 1. ation. meet the requirements of most insurance companies.53 1. as they still another method of determining heat flux under fire con- are generally more conservative than the corresponding API ditions is available.20 1.2 2.40 0.57 1.55 1.52 0.18 0.3 a n-Pentane 72.421 586 377 86 1.9 2. and Combustible Liquids.459 397 513 209 1.59 3. This recommendation is based on the recommendations.33 0.08 1.03 1.24 0.15 0. 3 a n-Heptane 100.000 547 −221 −313 2. The National Fire Protection Asso.03 1. Philadelphia. 7.5 2. vessels designed to operate from atmospheric pressure to 14 latory organizations.697 714 552 176 1.59 2.9–8.622 3206 706 212 2.007 551 304 31 1.59 2.4 a I-Butene 56.937 543 276 21 1. 3 dioxide Steam 18.8–10.30 0.3–45.60 4.8 a l-Pentene 70.57 0. 3 Carbon 44.78–2.05 0.59 2.8 Propane 44. 3 Hydrogen 34.3–7. 3.06 0.15 1.60 3.4–8.428 552 610 303 0.53 0.0–74.8–8.1–9.04 1. McGraw-Hill.15 1.18 1.58 1.181 590 604 231 1. 3 a Estimated. 3 sulfide Sulfur 64.4 1 n-Butane 58.09 0.59 2.2–7.05 0.28 1.212 1143 316 14 2.

BTU/hr/f * Coefficient C −0.000 BTU/hr (4. 7.93) (1. and the maximum total heat input has been limited to 14. which are provided with adequate drainage under fire conditions.15d.978 Safety and Miscellaneous Sensors 400 TABLE 7.15g by the use of the follow- factor F are listed in Table 7.370 7. Relieving rates for low-pressure tanks are Selection.500FA 2 2 340 *1 BTU/hr/ft = 3. expressed as cubic feet of free air per hour.15b Figure 7. and Installation relieving rate. This heat input corresponds to a free air vent rate of 742. The solid line is based on API RP 521 and can be used for regular tanks. © 2003 by Béla Lipták . The dotted line describes NFPA 2 information for low-pressure tanks only.6 1.15j.15d Heat flux estimates under fire conditions as a function of wetted area recommended by API and NFPA. (0.6) (37. The relationship between the specific heat ratio (k) of gases and coefficient C.423 2.000 10.16f gives the NFPA-30 heat flux calculation API recommendations for heat flux due to fire conditions. Part I – Sizing and the wetted area. 7th ed.15g. Selection.000 kcal/hr).000 BTU/hr (3.000 API 8.15c Heat Flux Calculation for Pressure Relieving Systems Based on 380 API RP 521 2 Type of Tank Drainage Heat Flux (q).72) (5.15(6) HEAT FLUX(q) Kcal/HR m2 BTU/HR FT2 81. The data in this table are based on the physical properties of hexane and utilize the Table 7.000 SCFH.86) (3.18 Inadequate 34.846 4.000 5. (Courtesy of the American Petroleum Institute from Free Air Calculation This procedure relates the required API Recommended Practice 520. Sizing.2 1.000 NFPA 27.000 16.0 For a comparison between API RP 521 based heat flux Specific Heat Ratio.269 6.4 1.345 30.15 W/m 320 W/hr). NFPA suggests the fixed maximum heat input of 14.0 1. The NFPA recommended values of the environmental may be calculated from Table 7.692 8.. FT.553. For tanks having over 2800 ft in wetted area and with design pressures of 1 PSIG or less. to of Pressure-relieving Devices in Refineries.8 2.2) (59) (93) (186) (372) (SQ.115 10. M) TOTAL WETTED AREA FIG. For low-pressure tanks with ing formula: design pressures under 1 PSIG and having wetted surface 2 2 areas exceeding 2800 ft (260 m ).090.090.) tabulated as shown in Table 7. equations as a function of tank design pressure and wetted The total emergency relief capacity for any specific liquid area.230 20.18 Adequate 21. January 2000.9) (9.000FA 360 −0.128.000 21. refer to FIG.3) (18.135 3.000 10 20 40 60 100 200 400 600 1000 2000 4000 SQ. 1. k = Cp /Cv recommendation for adequately drained regular tanks and NFPA’s heat flux information for low pressure tanks.000 54. 7. they have concluded that Design cubic feet of free air per hour = V1337/(λ M w ) complete fire coverage is unlikely.

000 Fire Protection Association is reproduced as Table 7.200 900 493.100 350 288.000 & over 742.7 PSIA and 60°F) 2 Wetted Tank Area (A in ft ) Due to Fire (Q in BTU/hr) 20–200 20. The design basis. Latent heat of Wetted Area (A) vaporization depends on the specific liquid. Are Exposed to External Fire Total Heat Absorption Equivalent Vent Rate of Free Air (Air Flow in SCFH at 14. and.000 where 100 105.400FA 50.000 λ = latent heat of vaporization of the specific liquid in 160 168. 4. and 60°F or 101.15 Relief Valves—Determination of Required Capacity 979 TABLE 7.566 200–1000 199.15(6).4 kPa and 15.800 1000 524. based on Equation 7.500FA 0.566 0.82 Over 2800 21.662 1000−2800 (93–260) < or = 15 963.000 > or = 2800 (260) < or = 1.338 0.000 2800 742.000 2 2 70 73.000FA 1. which can be horizontal. listed in 120 126. the effect of fire on nonwetted surfaces can worst-case situation when a particular vessel can be used to also cause structural failure from the steel softening at elevated store different liquids.15h.000 constants presented in the National Fire Codes of the National 300 265. Ft. SCFH.0283 m /hr and other multicomponent liquid applications where the com- ponents have a wide range of boiling points.000 −0.000 1400 587. vertical. or is utilized as latent heat generating vapor.000 −0.300FA 10.000FA 50 52.300FA 30 31. This calculation must consider the impacted by it.090. The factors that need to be considered in calculating the In the case of crude oil.0 14.400FA 40 42. With constant heat input.6–93) < or = 15 199. Initially. This calculation.000FA 1. The effective fire height Process calculations must be made to determine the true (maximum) rate of vapor evolution.000 1600 614.000F 20 21. Cubic Feet of Free Air per Hour (14.7 PSIA Design Pressure Heat Flux (q).15 W/m Note: For the NFPA recommended values of F. it cannot be tabulated.700 600 392. the amount of vapor gen.000 200 211.15j TABLE 7.82 0.600 400 312.000 V = cubic feet of free air per hour.000 1200 557.093 m 2 3 potential for oversizing relief valves on vessels in crude oil **SCFH = 0. Ft.6°c) 2 2 2 Wetted Area in ft (m ) in PSIG BTU/hr/ft * Sq.000 90 94.15j 80 84.15f 140 147.000 Table 7.434 200–1000 (18.000 2000 662.730FA 0. © 2003 by Béla Lipták .6) < or = 15 20. when Various Size Vessels. for multi- component liquids such as crude oil.100 500 354. which can be API or NFPA absorbs the heat. The tank shape.000 *1 BTU/hr/ft = 3.000 −0. which must be spherical relieved. Thermal insulation or fire-resistant coatings.000 For calculation convenience.000 60 63. 7.* V = SCFH** <200 (<18. has the 2 *ft = 0. refer to Table 7. temperatures. the heat input is initially absorbed wetted area include the following: by the oil and steel (minor part) as the temperature of the vessel and oil rises. 3.000 1800 639.* V = SCFH** Sq.200 700 428. refer to Table 7.700 800 462.000 units of BTU per pound Mw = molecular weight of the specific liquid 180 190. The ground area of the fire zone erated varies with the temperature of the oil in the vessel. and only a small portion of the heat input 2.054FA 0.18 > or = 2800 (260) From 1 to 15 21.15e Equations Recommended by NFPA Bulletin 30 for the Determination of Total Heat Absorption Q (BTU/hr) and for the Determination of Vent Rate of Free Air (SCHF).15g NFPA’s Heat Flux Recommendation for Low Pressure Tanks Wetted Area vs.338 1000–2800 963. taking into consideration While relief capacity determination is not directly the actual process fluid.107FA Note: For the NFPA recommended values of F.000 2400 704.15f TABLE 7. the specific heat of the oil 1. with Design Pressures Exceeding 1 PSIG and Containing Flammable Liquids. a table of physical property 250 239.

05 224 Acetronitrile 2000 41.13 145 n-Propyl alcohol 2295 60.22 132 n-Pentane 1300 72.16 195 Cyclohexanone 1625 98.15 153 n-Propyl acetate 1468 102.97 137 Ethyl ether 1310 74.08 250 Dimethyl formamide 2120 73. Molecular BTU per lbm at Boiling Chemical λ Mw Weight (Mw) Point (λ) Acetaldehyde 1673 44.12 214 Dimethyl amine 1676 45.01 120 cis-Dechloroethylene 1350 96.05 312 Acrylonitrile 1930 53.05 252 Acetic acid 1350 60.15 216 iso-Amyl alcohol 1990 88.09 177 Acetone 1708 58.05 265 n-Amyl alcohol 2025 88.980 Safety and Miscellaneous Sensors TABLE 7.12 248 Carbon disulfide 1310 76.15 212 Aniline 1795 93012 186 Benzene 1439 78.10 191 Methyl methacrylate 1432 100.04 474 Methyl ethyl ketone 1623 72.10 177 Ethyl acetate 1477 88.16 154 Cyclohexanol 1953 100.09 248 Dioxane (diethylene ether) 1665 88.14 164 o-Dischlorobenzene 1455 147.14 143 n-Octane 1412 114.12 254 iso-Butyl alcohol 2135 74.56 134 Cyclohexane 1414 84.09 296 © 2003 by Béla Lipták .95 137 Diethyl amine 1403 73.12 152 Furan 1362 68.07 165 Furfural 1962 96.20 138 n-Hexane 1337 86.05 174 Acetic anhydride 1792 102.13 150 Chlorobenzene 1422 112.0 140–150 n-Heptane 1383 100.17 144 Hydrogen cyanide 2290 27.03 430 Methyl alcohol 2680 32.10 157 Ethyl alcohol 2500 46.11 169 n-Butyl acetate 1432 116.08 200 Gasoline 1370–1470 96.52 167 Ethyl dichloride 1363 98.07 368 Ethyl chloride 1340 64.14 164 Dimethyl acetamide 1997 87.16 133 n-Butyl alcohol 2185 74.15h Relief Capacity Determination: Table of Constants* Heat of Vaporization.

dling. plant before considering the shapes of tanks or the expected If API RP 520 and 521 are used as the design basis for fire height. from the various FH = the fire height in feet (25 for API. only at grade level and. Liquefied Petroleum Gases. so the fire case is not relevant. the vessel is above the protected by that PRV. Molecular BTU per lbm at Boiling Chemical λ Mw Weight (Mw) Point (λ) iso-Propyl alcohol 2225 60.15(7) is exposed to an external fire. Liquefied Petroleum Gases. it age and Handling. For this reason. In this case. Storage and Han.15(7) can be used to calculate its wetted wetted area. the NFPA and API recommendations can Tank Shape NFPA RP 521 recommends that.10 168 Toluene 1500 92. at any elevation (other than ground) and catch fire. or to a height of 25 ft (7. flammable materials can accumulate (9 m) above grade of a vertical tank. Aw = the wetted surface area in ft 2 dent is likely to cover is 2. Fire Zone When determining the wetted surface area that 2 Aw = 1. the design engineer must consider only a 25-ft fire NFPA 58. for a sphere or spheroid.000 ft . To illustrate. the calculated wetted surface area similar to NFPA’s.500 to 5. its wetted area is to be calculated example of a vertical tank with its bottom tangent line at 20 on the basis of a percentage of total exposed area of the ft above ground and containing a 10 ft level of liquid so that vessel.089D + πD[h − (SE-FH)] 7. This percentage is 55% for a sphere or spheroid. SE = the above grade liquid surface elevation in the tank When a PRV protects several vessels. the design engi. In some cases. can reduce the probability of PRV for overpressure protection. 7. Stor- the recommendations of NFPA and API.5556 kcal/kg if not dislodged by the fire. For engineering D = the diameter of the vertical tank in feet design purposes. not necessarily from ground. the plant. called the fire zone. design engineer must calculate the wetted area on the basis ommendations are to be followed in designing the particular of a 30-ft fire height above ground. take the is exposed to external fire. there are some differences between Fire Height If NFPA 58.15 Relief Valves—Determination of Required Capacity 981 TABLE 7. The use of CSO valves is allowed. When several vessels share a single effective fire height. except that. only the heights of gent line in a vertical vessel that is provided with an elliptical liquid layers on the trays are considered in determining the head. is selected as the basis of the design. therefore.09 165 O-Xylene 1538 106. no regular block valves vessel failure caused by steel softening. when a tank give substantially different results.13 156 Vinyl acetate 1532 86. the probable maximum ground area that a fire inci. 30 for NFPA) possible fire zones. surface (A w) in square feet. this area corresponds to that of a circle h = the actual liquid level in the tank in feet having a diameter of 55 to 80 ft. In other words. normally.16 149 *One BTU/lb = 0. the “source of flame” is at API recommendations for calculations of wetted area are that level. it is necessary to define the ground area of the fire. Vertical Tanks If the liquid level is above the bottom tan- In case of distillation towers. in feet neers should be conservative and select. in this case.09 287 Tetrahydrofuran 1428 72. the API area on the basis of a 30-ft fire height above ground. Let us also of total exposed area of a horizontal tank. the is suggested that design engineers decide which set of rec. whichever is greater. 75% the liquid surface is 30 ft above grade level.5 m) is used. requires the design engineer to calculate the wetted but from above the source of flame. the using API will be half as much as if it were determined using total exposed surface up to the maximum horizontal diameter the NFPA recommendations.15h Continued Relief Capacity Determination: Table of Constants* Heat of Vaporization. and the first 30 ft assume that. Equation 7. whereas code requires the design engineer to also consider the possi- API RP 520 and 521 require us to consider only a 25-ft fire bility that a pool of flammable materials might accumulate height above the source of flame. the fire zone (circle of 80 ft in diameter) that would include the largest total wetted surface area If [h − (SE-FH)] is zero or negative. are to be installed between them. According to API where 2 RP 521. API or NFPA As will be noted from the discussions in the paragraphs that follow. height and measure that height. © 2003 by Béla Lipták .

for a tank insulation to 2. These factors If the liquid level is below the centerline of the horizontal appear in the NFPA National Fire Codes. and whenever the conditions are not exactly as described in −1 S = D. 30 0.15(9) is to be used. The means of fastening the factor (F) can be less than 1. These environmental factors are suggested values only.0 (API – 2 insulation) 0.15j TABLE 7. 30 for NFPA) credit for water application facilities on bare metal surfaces.15(10) is applicable.15j NFPA Recommended Environmental Factors (F) tank provided with ellipsoidal heads.0 lation and for drainage away from the tank.0 (API – 1 insulation) 0. Table 7. Equation 7. they feel that no reduction in envi- the effective fire height. Bare vessel 1. They both relate to the type of fireproof Installations insulation and its thickness as used on the tank.15(10).Cos {(D − 2[h − (SE-FH)])/D} 7. credit is given for SE = the above grade liquid surface elevation in the tank the thickness and/or conductance of the insulation used.” it must function effectively while sub- conductance values expressed in units of jected to fire temperatures of 1000 to 2000°F for a period of 2 BTU/hr/ft /°F) 20 to 60 min. Water application facilities provided on bare vessels 1.15j. exposing If certain conditions are met. fusion of the banding material under fire conditions.15 place by stainless steel banding or jacketing.0 does not allow credit for water deluge systems.15i. the reader must exercise sound engi- neering judgment when applying them.0 (API – 4 insulation) 0. so the fire case is not relevant.15(10) API’s Environmental Factors As noted in Table 7.982 Safety and Miscellaneous Sensors Horizontal Tanks Equation 7.15i and can be applied to the API recom. On in feet the other hand. and approved (fireproof) insulation S = calculated by either Equation 7. 1. and a factor of 0. In addition.075 shows that NFPA gives credit both for having fireproof insu- 3. To take insulation into account when determining heat Environmental Factors flux. The main difference between API and NFPA is that API 4. API where allows for more factors than does NFPA. Earth-covered storage above grade 0.15i API Recommended Environmental Factors (F) for Tank lists the NFPA ones. These reduced values of F are insulation should be such that it will not fall because of the listed in Table 7. A factor of 0. the insulation should be of the type that will not be damaged or removed by fire or firewater streams. depending on which is applicable the required relieving capacity of the PRV. the value of the environmental the bare metal surface to the fire.15(8) Drainage in accordance with NFPA No.15 tank in feet drainage.15j.15(4) to reduce API and NFPA Environmental Factors Table 7. NFPA does not. 0. Because of uncertainties in the reliability of effective water If [h − (SE-FH)] is zero or negative. and Table 7. ronmental factors should be allowed. They © 2003 by Béla Lipták . the vessel is above spray application systems. it should be noted that API does not allow FH = the fire height in feet (25 for API. Insulated vessels (listed below are three qualify as “fireproof. If the level is above.0 API’s position is that the NFPA rules are too complicated and 6. 5. mended heat flux calculation in Equation 7. but NFPA does.5 2 2 (>1% slope) for tanks with over 200 ft (18 m ) where of exposed wetted area 2 Aw = the wetted surface area in ft Approved water spray (water deluge system) in place 0.3 L = the length of the cylindrical portion of the horizontal Approved water spray (water deluge system).0 h = the actual liquid level in the tank in feet is used for underground storage.15i or 7.15(9) or 7. As can be seen from Table 7.15i lists the environmental factors recommended by API. −1 S = D{π − Cos [(2[h − (SE-FH)] − D)/D]} 7.15j also Conductance of 1. Equation 7. API gives an estimate of environmental Type of Installation Factor (F) factors on the basis of insulation thickness.15(8) can be used if one desires to calculate the wetted surface area of a horizontal Table 7.0 From the perspective of NFPA. tank. Another set of environmental factors is listed in Table 7. Depressurizing and emptying facilities provided 1.15i.03 that the sprinkler systems are not sufficiently reliable.178D + πDL)(S/πD) 7.03 is D = the diameter of the horizontal tank in feet used for earth-covered storage above grade. Underground storage 0.3 dislodged when impacted by firewater—it is to be held in Conductance of 2. Installation Factor (F) 2 A w = (2.3 D = the diameter of the horizontal tank in feet Approved fireproof insulation installed 0. NFPA also requires that the insulation not be Conductance of 4.15(9) Tables 7.0.

These simulations are usually based on the assumption that anywhere from 70 to 95% of the hydrocarbons are still in the NONFIRE PROTECTION OVERPRESSURE liquid state in the vessel when the latent heat is calculated. As to the selection of the set pressure of the PRV. select the applicable envi. Under these conditions. is the preferred the metal surface of the tank with a cooling water spray to method of obtaining the latent heat for sizing the PRV that is prevent premature failure. blocked outlets. The actual process during a fire condition is one in which it where the change in vapor compressibility is less drastic. To calculate this properly. and the sensible heat dom- where inates its behavior. there very rapidly. because. the gas specific heat and Association is reproduced in Table 7. two-phase relieving is short. the metal the heavier components will follow. 4.15g. This continues 2. Based on the wetted surface area (Aw) and based on all-vapor relieving phase. calculations are table of physical property constants presented in the made to determine the rate of thermal expansion of the vessel National Fire Codes of the National Fire Protection contents.15(11) as follows: tank’s bottom minus the hydrostatic head of the liquid column. Establish wetted surface area (Aw) of the tank. because the relieving area require- the selected code (API. and gagement in the vessel. the design engi. determine the ment of thermal expansion is small. in which the vapor pressure and failures. This will be followed by a period during which both ering its size.15(5). single-component paraffin hydro. Based on the selected code (API. of vapor space is cleared. the liquid in a pressure Q = the total heat absorbed by the tank. shape. Because the latent heat wall of the vessel will rapidly approach the flame temperature of vaporization varies with not only the composition of the and will fail prematurely. other).15e and 7. the compressibility factor of the vapor changes tanks that contain multicomponent hydrocarbon liquids. 7. and there is no accurate latent heat λ = the latent heat of vaporization at relieving conditions value available.15(5). hydrocarbon liquid. because they are fragile. one can use this chart to estimate the latent heat of vaporization of the mixture at relieving conditions. control failure. and the time period of equation to be used to calculate the total heat absorp. NFPA. under these conditions.15(4). runaway chemical reac- © 2003 by Béla Lipták .15g below the critical region. Calculate the relief capacity required (W) by Equation it is recommended to base it on the design pressure of the 7. W = the required relief capacity in pounds per hour (lb/hr) If. to protect a multicomponent hydrocarbon storage vessel. Using the relieving pres- freeze in northern regions and are often the first systems to be sure and the average molecular weight of the multicomponent destroyed when a fire breaks out. The maximum required valve capacity is often is no accurate way to determine the latent heat of vaporiza. calculated by vessel is above the critical point. If the process fluids under the relieving conditions are in Tables 7. determined not at the critical point but at some point above tion. other) and until enough vapor space is created for vapor-liquid disen- on the type of thermal insulation. they can carbon liquids are given in Figure A1. The possible nonfire causes of overpressure can be utility neer can refer to API RP 521. When computer simulation is not available. API RP 520 allows the use of an approximate of the liquid in the tank to be protected by the PRV latent heat of 50 BTU/lb. (For calculation convenience. that is being sized. a Once the design heat flux is determined. and It should be noted that. if available. or one of the equations in Tables and check valves in the connecting piping should be carefully 7. which usually starts when 1 or 2 ft other installation featured.15 Relief Valves—Determination of Required Capacity 983 argue that the sprinklers are not regularly tested. consid. and location within the fire zone. liquid and vapor are simultaneously relieved. thermal expansion. valve or process heat of vaporization of pure. 7.15e and 7. the control 7. because it is not being cooled by boiling liquid but also with the relieving temperature and the latent heat of vaporization of the boiling liquid contents pressure.15(4). The PRV for such a liquid-full tank is sized for this last. it should be handled as a Equation 7. the reliev- ing process will be initiated by the thermal expansion of the 1. ronmental factor F. NFPA.) the gas compressibility factor must be known. It is inadequate to assume the vapor to be an ideal gas. When a liquid-filled tank is con- tion due to fire. the lighter hydrocarbon components will vaporize first.15h. W = Q/λ 7. under the relieving conditions. only approximations can be made. 7.) evaluated. of the tank. it is said to be at or near the critical point.15(11) Fluids at the Critical Point If the latent heat of a hydrocar- bon mixture is approaching zero. 3. Calculating the Relieving Capacity Protecting Liquid-Full Tanks The steps required to determine the relief capacity under fire conditions are as follows: When a liquid-full vessel is exposed to external fire. water spray. liquid. just above the Latent Heat of Vaporization When sizing PRVs to protect critical point. equipment failure. it is advisable to protect Computer simulation software. (The equation to be used can be nected to another vessel with a vapor space in it. or by one of the equations gas.

sizing calculations need relieving a two-phase flow. not be performed. and in addition. the required relief capacity in blockage. level from further increasing. An even safer approach is to tion 7. the PRV has to relieve the liquid pressure.0005 for 35 to 50. On other sources. Therefore. When large it is important to provide the tank with a void space corre- vessels or long. the at flowing temperature resulting expansion can cause very high pressures. 20 min. a PRV is required only if the source trapped in liquid is toxic. in.0008 for topics of thermal expansion and blocked outlets are discussed. or 3/8 × 1-in. overpressure protection is needed in case of outlet can never be fully eliminated.0001 for water. 79 to 88. the vapor-liquid the selected PRV should be provided with balanced bellows. but human error equipment. SpG = the specific gravity of the process fluid referred or heat tracing. The blocking of the outlet line can be caused by section contains toxic or environmentally hazardous materials. and the PRV can also be If the protected volume is small. by any heat source other than the ambient and are normally operating at a temperature exceeding the ambient. required.0007 for 64 to 78. if the blocked-in spond to the design pressure at the bottom of the tank minus pipe section is of small diameter and less than 100 ft in length. It is advisable to install bleeding the leakage of the block valve.9°API gravity. the pressure can be higher than the maximum allowable working PRV must discharge into a closed receiver. This way. the design engineers should carefully evaluate the accumulation. Therefore. Thermal-expansion PRVs should be installed if a section Blocked Outlet Conditions of the process can be blocked in during maintenance or shut- down. or flammable. the sizing of the In addition. lets of compressors and of positive displacement pumps. In selecting the set the liquid outlet is blocked. heat exchangers. separation can become impossible. if it is variable.15(12) install a high-high level alarm when it drops to 15. provide a high-level alarm when the remaining residence time above the liquid level drops to. corrosive. If the plant uses strictly enforced and checked proce. and so on) Cp = the specific heat of the trapped in liquid on the Thermal Expansion cold side in BTU/°F GPM = the thermal expansion relief rate required in GPM When a liquid filled system is blocked in and heated.984 Safety and Miscellaneous Sensors tions. 0. the operator will have some time to prevent the GPM (without vaporization) can be calculated using Equa. when the vessel has a large liquid inventory. instrument air or power failure. Environmentally safe pressure of the protected equipment or tank. On the other hand. large-diameter pipelines are to be protected sponding to 10 to 15 min of inlet flow. the system is assumed to be not blocked. Set Pressure and Sizing The set pressure of a thermal. by control valve malfunction.0006 low-pressure tanks. the for 51 to 63. When only as a result of thermal expansion. if the blocked-in blockage. PRVs should be sized for the rated capacity of the compressor When thermal-expansion PRVs are required. When CSO valves are used. Thermal Sizing the PRV PRVs must always be installed on the out- expansion relief valves also are not required if the blocked. or by inadvertent valve operation. Therefore.0 external fire. or it can be solar or other radiant heat or to water at 60°F = 1. protected tank and with two-phase input. and it is sufficient to install a 1/2 × 3/4. GPM = BQ/500(SpG)(Cp) 7. When liquid discharges to a flare header. 0. The set pressure of the PRV should be selected to corre- vide 100% bubble-tight closure. after a against thermal expansion. © 2003 by Béla Lipták . the allowable working pressure of the receiving tank or other need for thermal-expansion PRVs is reduced.9. heat exchanger. and human errors. The required sizing capacity for blocked-outlet PRVs is 1 expansion PRV must be high enough that the valve will open not always the normal flow rate of the blocked line. say. some unit-operation related are 0. These in pipe or equipment is not liquid full but has a vapor pocket. The discharge piping of the the required thermal expansion relieving capacity is less than PRV should have no pockets. thermal-expansion PRVs are not required on flare header should take the total volume of the discharged pipelines that cannot be blocked in or that cannot be heated liquid into consideration. nominal thermal relief valve. 0. the installation of thermal-expansion PRVs is recommended. A PRV is not liquids such as water can be discharged directly into a sewer.0004 for hydrocarbons advice will be given on how to protect such equipment as <34. At high levels in the backpressure that might be acting on the valve.9. In the following paragraphs. required if the outlet cannot be blocked. so a thermal relief valve is not valves at the lowest points to eliminate liquid accumulation.9. where PROCESS EQUIPMENT CONSIDERATIONS B = the cubical expansion coefficient per °F for the liquid at the expected temperature (typical values In the following paragraphs. the hydrostatic head above it. 0. 0. which might fluctuate. and the or pump. volatile.15(12). The heat Q= the total heat transfer rate in BTU/hr source of thermal expansion can be a heater.9. no metal seated block valve can pro. pumps and compressors. Whenever an inlet stream pressure can exceed the maximum dures to drain all liquid filled vessels during shutdown.

8°C) per hour. relief flashpoint of 100°F (37. pensate for in or out pumping rates.15 Relief Valves—Determination of Required Capacity 985 distillation towers. and tube rupture cases. protection against thermal expansion. The total in-breathing and out-breathing requirements of In designing the “breathing” of atmospheric storage tanks. when its temperature rises The API recommendations are based on an in-breathing to that of the hot side. and how to design their PRV installations.000 barrels or 3180 m ). there should be no block ment has been assumed to be 60% of the in-breathing capac. seat and seal materials. a tank should always be calculated as the sum of the thermal there are two considerations.000 barrels (3180 m ). 7.15g. ature may lower for some geographical areas. This is always done fill rate for fluids with a flashpoint below 100°F for the cold side of an exchanger.5 scfh (0. blocked Quoting once again the API Guide for Tank Venting. somewhat site specific and is based on an assumed (maxi- 3 3 breathing requirement of 1 ft of air per hour (0.8°C) or above. This is also done whenever the vapor pressure of 3 2 m /hr/m ) of total shell and roof area for very large tanks (a the material flowing at 100°F (37. vapor pressure of the refrigerant. When designing fired heaters.158 m ) of tank capacity is recommended. and the other is the need to admit air into the tank when liquid is being pumped out of the vessel. the thermal out-breathing require.8°C) or higher. and chemical reactors against gravity of the vapors in tanks containing volatile hydrocar- overpressure.8°C). the exchanger is “blocked in. This capacity is based on a rate of change of vapor space temperature of 100°F (37. For tanks design pressure of the exchanger. This allows for Tube Rupture Consideration should be given to relief pro- vaporization of the liquid and for the fact that the specific tection of low-pressure equipment in the event that an © 2003 by Béla Lipták . valve is normally sized for the design heat transfer rating of It is assumed that the tank roof and shell temperatures the heater and must initially handle a fluid rate corresponding cannot rise as rapidly as they can drop under any conditions. to avoid creating a vacuum relief device should always be provided for the protection of in the atmospheric tank.48 m /hr) air for each gpm (3.24 m /hr) air for each gpm these valves are all closed. This maximum rate Gas-Fired Tubular Heaters Direct gas-fired tubular heaters of temperature change is assumed to occur during such events are always protected by relief valves on their tube side. pipe headers. bons is greater than air.78 lpm) of maximum expansion of liquids in the exchanger.226 m /hr) air for each gpm Blocked-In Exchangers Heat exchangers frequently have (3. This is defined as the expansion installations. an in. For example.78 lpm) of maximum emptying rate valves located on both their inlet and outlet piping. The thermal venting capacity requirements as recommended by API were given in Low-Pressure Storage Tanks Table 7. 2000. When • 3 Outbreathing—8.” If (3.61 exchanger. at the begin- ning of a rainstorm. this temper- 3 for each barrel (0.8°C) heated by the hot fluid on the other side or can be heated by ambient temperature while sitting with the inlet and outlet valves closed. in the tank’s ambient temperature. RP. This “breathing” is Heat Exchangers needed to (a) prevent over-pressure while pumping liquid in and (b) collapsing the vessel as a result of vacuum when Heat exchangers are a class of process equipment requiring liquid is being pumped out and the corresponding volume is special relief considerations because of the potential need for not replaced with air. In such requirements of the vessel. services exceeding 550°F are not available with dependable For materials with a flashpoint below 100°F (37. No relief device is necessary for the protection of either sion must be made to accommodate the thermal venting side of an exchanger that cannot be blocked in. external fire.78 lpm) of maximum filling rate for fluids with a the cold side of the heat exchanger can be blocked in. the following recommendations apply: • 3 Inbreathing—8 scfh (0. This recommendation is 3 with a capacity of less than 20. This is because PRVs for high-temperature ity requirement. the thermal out-breathing requirement has been assumed to be equal to the in-breathing requirement. it is assumed that the relief of the unit is taken or contraction of the vapors in the tank resulting from changes care of by the relief device on the related tank or equipment.028 m /hr) mum) ambient temperature of 100°F (37. Thermal Venting Capacity In addition to pumping. valve on its outlet. exceeds the design pressure of the 3 capacity of 2 ft of air per hour per square foot (0. outlets. 100°F (37.8°C). Under such conditions. to the rate of thermal expansion in the tubes when they are It is further assumed that.8°C) is greater than the 3 capacity of more than 20. where the liquid can be (37. a contract. provi. for liquids with a flashpoint of blocked in. additional air must be admitted into the refrigerant side if that side can be blocked in and if the the vapor space of the tank. and 17 scfh devices are installed to provide protection against thermal 3 (0. The as a sudden cold rain. One is the need to vent the venting capacity requirements and the requirements to com- displaced air when liquid is being pumped into the vessel. the vapors in the tank would cool and Liquid Refrigerants In the case of liquid refrigerants.

with a fairly uniform instantaneous flow rate. equipment that may be blocked in. or 207 ment in the line. a set pressure is selected to be below this limit but valve sticking open. or will it can be blocked. vibration. type pumps. need to be considered in the safety analysis. ating conditions. and control valves. It is suggested that. stop?” The answers to such questions will help determine if a relief device is required to relieve the pumped liquid when secondary effects such as overhead condenser flooding also the discharge line is blocked in. 1035 kPa) is reduced to a lower pressure (30 PSIG. In this case. continuous and the overhead vapor line from the column is In the case of reciprocating pumps. there of feed may result in an overpressure condition. and ther- Pumps and Compressors mal expansion. directing the relieved fluid densed in an overhead condenser. the design engineer should always consider the maxi- mum impeller size and 105% of the normal speed of the The design engineer must always consider that automatic compressor or pump in selecting the sizing capacity. In such case. four times the average flow rate be used as the may also cause an overpressure condition. continue. In evaluating the above conditions. This may be the design pressure of assume a case in which high-pressure steam (150 PSIG. In the event of the failure back to the pump or compressor suction may result in dan. stopped. of the relief device used.and sure (MAWP) of any system components. times provided as an integral part of the pump. densers). for a single. cooling water. In many cases. and this PRV is generally rated for the normal heat must be taken into consideration. The in the overpressure of distillation columns. Set Pressure The design pressure of the weakest part of Such an overpressure condition can occur because of the the system downstream should determine the pressure setting failure of steam pressure reducing stations. Pipe Headers fore. the steam flow to pressure on the discharge side in case the discharge piping the reboiler. Reciprocating compressors should be protected against over. In terms of high. the PRV is sized Overpressure can also develop when the source of heat is for the rated pump capacity. and the engineer must exercise safe if the reboiler continues to operate when the feed has judgment. To illustrate this. Other causes can include abnormal heat input. it is uncommon that the maximum pump shutoff pressure side design pressure is less than the operating pressure would exceed the maximum allowable working pres- pressure on the high-pressure side. the cooling water flow. a relief device must relieve be given to the fact that the rated flow rate is the average of the vapors as they are generated by the column reboiler. In all distillation towers. kPa). which is to protect the exchanger. The vapors generated are normally con- carefully evaluated. Similarly. or In the case of turbine pumps. Nor. relief devices are generally thermal shock. PRV protection against neer still must fully evaluate the overpressure possibilities. seal failure. These can include PRV. In the case of rotary pumps input of the reboiler. instrument air. or the pump casing. the total stroke of the piston. control system. or another appropriate specification. There. one must always ask. the PRV should be sized for the maximum capacity that the pump or compressor can generate. ASME Code. Division 1. pressure steam header could be subjected to high pressure. control systems do fail and can accidentally subject some equipment to pressures exceeding their design pressures. a dangerous overpressure situation may develop fluid vaporization. Section VIII. because of the continued generation of vapors in the reboiler. In the case of centrifugal- This consideration is particularly critical when the low. A relief device must be added to relieve the vapors thus Sizing In sizing the PRV. blocked outlets. should be located the failure of power. loss basis for relief sizing. provided to protect the pump. tube rupture is recommended if the design pressure of the low-pressure side is less than 77% of the high-pressure side design pressure. will the feed. This relief device is some. With a duplex or triplex pump. consideration must accidentally blocked. Para. tube rupture. reflux. In general.986 Safety and Miscellaneous Sensors exchanger tube ruptures because of corrosion. directly on the exchanger or very close to it. etc. the type of pumping equipment generated. Reflux failure to a column where reflux acts as a coolant piston pump. Should this control station fail as a result of the control mally. and so on. the design pressure of some valve or equip. all equipment connected to the low- high enough that the PRV will not open under normal oper. there is a normal heat input at The routing of the discharge from the PRVs should be the column reboiler. of cooling water or cooling medium to the overhead con- gerous overheating of the fluid because of the work input by denser (or a failure of the fan drive unit on air-cooled con- the pump or compressor. but the design engi- low-pressure side design pressures. “When this failure occurs. In the case of positive displacement pumps. especially is some flow averaging. a relief device is normally placed on the low- © 2003 by Béla Lipták . This may result in unit overheating. Distillation Towers Reference 2 provides some advice on the sizing of PRVs Several conditions and combinations of conditions can result to protect against overpressure caused by tube rupture. and the graph UG-133(d) require such protection. the associated piping.

Table 7. because the piping may actually be the limiting factor if a combined Cv approach is used in sizing 1. Water or nontoxic. 3. The following types of discharges are installation. allowable to be sent to open collection systems or to the tenance practices. control valve while the process is in operation could result In cases where relief requirements cannot be quantita- in a situation in which the bypass valve is open and the tively determined. 5200 (19. The ronment. In considering these possibilities. However. 2 2 2 2 Volume.287 (830) 0. Vapors that are lighter than air and are not toxic. a use simplifying assumptions that will lead to conservative conservative approach is to size the relief capacity on the results. impossible to determine the actual rate of heat evolution 2. The capacity of the process piping should atmosphere: also be examined. The discharged vapor is heavier than air or is flamma- during a runaway reaction. there can be situations where the bypass valves are be safe and conservative. This approach appears to closed. toxic. flammable.0012 (0.38 (4. because data are often not avail.0013 (0. An example of such a case is a The PRV discharge must be sent to a closed location in the polymerization reactor in which cooling water or agitator following cases: failure can cause a runaway reaction. limited volumes.2048) Bypass Valves When considering overpressure conditions caused by control valve failure. or hazardous either to humans or the envi- able for such a condition at high relief temperatures. mable.2048) devices capable of handling the maximum flow through the 3750 (14. including an assessment of operating and main. The discharged fluid is liquid or partially liquid and pure vapor stream but a mixture of liquids. Here again. 1. or hazardous to humans or the environment can be discharged. nonflammable liquids from waste Chemical Reactors heat boilers and thermal relief systems can be dis- Protecting chemical reactors from overpressure is probably charged into open collection systems before further the most complex task in process safety design. basis of the combined Cv of the control valve and the bypass valve. regulations. In these cases. relief 2500 (9450) 3L4 2. otherwise hazardous to humans or the environment. times are sized based on past practice.85 (1. flam- the relief valve.2901) control valves involved need to be provided. The discharged vapor is toxic. this oversizing can cause problems such as Discharging the PRVs causing chatter in the relief valve.175) 4P6 6. or 3 When sizing such a relief valve. the design engineer should be careful to control valve fails open. liquid from a high-pressure source may be admitted to a vessel that is operating under either Nominal Reactor Relief Orifice Area.115) 0. or flammable The first problem is that it is difficult and sometimes and/or will condense at atmospheric conditions. As a result.15 Relief Valves—Determination of Required Capacity 987 pressure header near the pressure-reducing control valve and is rated for the maximum capacity of that control valve. 2. The sizing problems fall into two categories.0012 (0. What makes chemical reactors unique among the unit Discharging to Closed Locations operations in a processing plant is that “runaway” exothermic reactions can occur in them.115) 0. ble. Local regulations also allow some specific gases/ and because the speed of response of some conventional vapors to be discharged to the atmosphere in certain PRVs might not be fast enough to match them. gases.38 (4. the equip- ment downstream of the control valve may be subjected to 1000 (3780) 2J3 1.838) 0. Should the control valve fail. (mm ) In. The discharged amount/volume would exceed local the conversion of this heat to equivalent vapor generation. the relief devices some- intentionally used to obtain additional capacity. Unless the bypass valves are sealed calculated volume as 100% liquid. This dilemma must be The selected discharge system should be a function of the resolved based on the individual circumstances for each process fluid handled.2218) pressures in excess of its design pressure. complicated because of the possibility of runaway reactions. corrosive. /gal (mm /l) level or flow control. and solids. 7. is toxic. high temperature.656) 4P6 6. corrosive. performing maintenance or testing on the typical relief sizes for PVC reactors as an example. TABLE 7.15k Relief Valve Sizes for PVC Reactors As another example. the PRV is sized the impact of bypass valves around control valves that can under the assumption that the relief device will vent this be open or partially open.15k presents Alternatively. gal (l) Valve in. second problem is that the PRV does not usually relieve a 3. It is that treatment and discharge into the sewer. special (explosive actuated) PRV designs may be needed. it is also prudent to evaluate When this vapor volume is determined. one approach first rec.0017 (0. © 2003 by Béla Lipták . ommends the determination of the rate of heat evolution and 4.

regardless of ments based on fire and those based on some other consid. blowdown. its thickness. The (e. which the PRV is adjusted to open during testing. mination. such as. whether the pressure relief valve is closed or open. pressure and the reseating (closing) pressure of a pressure relief valve. Rapid. and backpressure.. This is the pressure increase over the area of the PRV. mea- to exist simultaneously. The pressure. (2) with a balancing a processing plant. reciprocating variations in lift vessel during discharge through the pressure relief during which the disc does not contact the seat. and capacity) is system. surable lift. The super. the maximum pressure allowed for continuous oper- imposed and the built-up backpressures. auxiliary balancing piston. determine which will require the largest relief device. at which the valve closes. for example. and the service the bonnet vented to atmosphere. to consider the expected service temperature and such as fire. under any condition of operation. A safety relief valve with on the type of material. and packages are only as good as the programmer who has pre. maximum allowable working pressure of a tank or Flutter.3) for unfired pressure vessels. The rise of the disc in a pressure relief valve. The vessel © 2003 by Béla Lipták . A safety relief valve Computer simulations can be very valuable in specific cases. The design valve after it opens. abnormal. Concurrently. The perfor- the other hand. runway reactions. and there is no mea- of relief valves can also present problems such as chattering. This pressure is the sum of the super. The vapors are then sent to the flare system while the anced safety relief valve is made in three designs: liquids are pumped to the treatment and disposal system. This is an increase in pressure engineer must always exercise care and sound judgment in the relief valve’s outlet line caused by the pressure when determining the sizing basis for relief capacity deter- drop through the discharge headers. it equals the the discharge piping of the relief valve when the design pressure for the same design temperature. allowable working pressure or in pressure units Maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP). which creates a dilemma in relief valve sizing and selection.g. valve is closed. The bal- vapors. This pressure is equal to or less than the have been prepared. they backpressure on the performance characteristics of are sent through a manifold and blowdown drum to a flare the valve (set pressure.. It is used to define the upper limit of the normal operating pres- sure range. Variable backpressure that devel- ops as a result of flow through the pressure relief Overpressure analysis is more art than science. There Constant backpressure. CONCLUSIONS Built-up backpressure. Backpressure. the engineer must be aware that oversizing flow is substantially shut off. On nally to the discharge side of the valve. The effect of conditions set as the basis for design. with the bonnet vented either to atmosphere or inter- such as when the relieving conditions are near critical. blowdown. one should always remember that software mance characteristics (set pressure. In many cases. abnormal. Backpressure that does not change can also be installations where the relief capacity require. In (1) with a balancing piston. sured at the valve inlet. As defined in the construction codes (ASME imposed backpressure is the pressure that exists in B31. and for the same equipment configuration for which they Design pressure. Rapid. and (3) with a balancing bellows and an different pressures or for different types of process materials. more than present some generalized advice and a fairly long Cold differential test pressure (CDTP). ation. TERMINOLOGY AND NOMENCLATURE Effective coefficient of discharge. maximum allowable working pressure. expressed in percent of the set pressure or in bars or pounds per square inch. capacity) are directly affected by changes of the pared them and are applicable only under the same conditions backpressure on the valve. This is a coefficient used to calculate the minimum required discharge Accumulation. because both conditions are likely Closing pressure (reseat pressure).988 Safety and Miscellaneous Sensors When the PRVs are discharged into a closed system. The pressure at list of further reading material in the bibliography. It is given as a percentage of the maximum Lift. cooling water failure. it is necessary to calculate relief capacity The CDTP setting includes the corrections required requirements based on a combination of several considerations. reciprocating variations in lift and circumstances that it is beyond our scope here to do much during which the disc contacts the seat. Conventional safety relief valve. This is relief valve. etc. eration should be additive. bars or pounds per square inch). maximum pressure expected during normal operation. There are so many combinations of installations Chatter. Pressure on the discharge side of a pressure Maximum allowable working pressure (MAWP). The difference between the set system. valve. The blowdown drum separates the liquids from the much less than on the conventional valve. The maximum allowable working pressure depends Balanced safety relief valve. there can be flare header systems for bellows. a separate H2S flare header or other Blowdown (blowback).

Y. or vapor service. A generic term that might Superimposed backpressure. be audible. This rating is normally provided valves connected to a common discharge header. The broadest category in the area Start-to-leak pressure. Variable backpressure that refer to relief valves. When the set movements at higher or lower pressures. gas.. The opening pressure when the pres- pressure relief valve can be set to open. This is the maximum relieving of changes in operation of one or more pressure relief capacity of the PRV. Relieving pressure (opening pressure plus overpressure). Pressure increase over the the popping point. Such margin inlet after closing. measured at the valve PSI (173 kPa). at which no further liquid. it includes rupture discs which the relieved fluid is first detected on the down- and pressure relief valves of both the simple spring. to Safety relief valve. Variable backpressure. the spring constant develops pressure. depending on the status of the other PRVs ing the process gases or fluids to a safe location in the system. safety valves. National Meeting. actuated by the static pressure upstream of the valve. the accumulation is the open when it is simmering at a pressure just below same as the overpressure. The ratio of the maximum ing. over the operating pressure. W. consequently. mum allowable working pressure.. the relieving capacity is determined. even though the simmering may set pressure of the primary relieving device is over. in pounds per Safety valve. It is used for steam. it is the highest pressure at which the primary Reopening pressure. A relieving device suitable for use as either a safety processing vessel is usually designed for a maxi. PRV sizing for exchanger tube rupture. Hydrocarbon Process. Hydrocarbon Pro- cess. This is the pressure increase over the set opening direction as compared to corresponding pressure of the primary relief device. The condition just prior to opening at observed that. The pressure. as soon as the valve the overpressure may be greater that 10% of set disc attempts to rise. variable. measured at the valve inlet. It is the pressure Operating pressure margin.. 61st AIChE liquid service. Pressure-relieving device. The pressure at which minor fluctuations in the operating pressure. Under these conditions. J. or relief valve. ture. and pilot-operated is present in the discharge header before the pressure valves. It is sug. Houston. when the set pressure of the first which a spring-loaded relief valve is at the point of (primary) safety or relief valve is less than the having zero or negative forces holding the valve maximum allowable working pressure of the vessel. Note: from this definition. Wong. becomes continuous as determined by seeing. the pressure at which the valve moves more in the Overpressure. In the pop-type safety valve. when its pressure setting is reached. W. TX. and operation of the pressure relief valve caused by Set pressure (opening pressure). Consider two-phase relief for liquid blockage of flash drums. W. The rated relieving capacity of the PRV exceeds the required relieving References capacity and is the basis for sizing the vent header system. or hearing. An automatic pressure-actuated which the vessel is usually subjected in service. February 1992. 2. December 1992. will be adequate to prevent the undesirable opening or gas is detected at the downstream side of the seat. A safety pressure is the same as the maximum allowable valve or a safety relief valve is not considered to be operating pressure (MAOP). actuated by the static pressure upstream of the valve gin above the operating pressure to prevent any and characterized by rapid and full opening or pop undesirable operation of the relief device. the relief valve is set to open. and Capacity credit calculation for exchanger which opens in proportion to the increase in pressure tube rupture.. measured at the valve inlet of the PRV at which imum operating pressure and the set pressure of the there is a measurable lift or at which discharge PRV.15 Relief Valves—Determination of Required Capacity 989 may not be operated above this pressure or its equiv.. closed. It is used primarily for 3. on the nameplate of the PRV. feel- Operating pressure ratio. December 1997. steam. Boyle. The operating pressure of a vessel is has reseated or closed from a previous discharge. action takes place. the pressure. for that metal tempera. whichever is greater. © 2003 by Béla Lipták . Backpressure that varies as a result Rated relieving capacity. it will be Simmer (warn). in pounds per square inch gauge. that will provide a suitable mar. stream side of the seat before normal relieving loaded type and certain pilot-operated types. 7. sure is raised as soon as practicable after the valve Operating pressure. Sizing relief area for polymerization reactors. The margin between the max. action. Pressure relief valve (PRV). enough force to close the valve again. gested that this margin be approximately 10% or 25 Seal-off pressure. 1. Relief valve. alent at any metal temperature other than that used The pressure. pressure. The purpose of a PRV is to automatically relief valve starts to open. Wong. The pressure at the valve inlet at of pressure relief devices. It can be constant or open and relieve the excess system pressure by send. An automatic pressure-relieving device Hydrocarbon Process. it is operating pressure to the set pressure of the PRV. Y. An automatic pressure-relieving device square inch gauge. at which in its design..

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