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Robert D’Alessandro, P.E.

Degussa Corporation, Mobile, AL 36602; robert.dalessandro@dugussa.com (for correspondence)

When a pressure safety valve actuates, thrust forces nitude of the thrust forces that are developed. Once

are developed. These thrust forces must be considered known, these reaction forces can be balanced by the

for the proper installation of the relieving device. For installation of appropriate restraints at key locations.

gas or vapor compressible ﬂow, Simpson developed For the typical emergency relief system, the restraints

thrust force plots that can be used to calculate the necessary to balance the relief valve thrust forces are

magnitude of the thrust force. Although these charts are usually moderate and the costs associated with these

available in the open literature, the assumptions be- restraints are typically low. However, large pressure

hind the charts and the underlying equations are not. safety valves operating at high pressure can produce

This article addresses these issues. All equations and substantial thrust forces.

fundamental assumptions are stated and all ﬂow mod- One method for calculating the thrust forces gener-

els are explained. Numerical examples are given to ated when a pressure safety valve actuates was de-

illustrate the use of the equations and the correspond- scribed by Simpson [1]. The Simpson method is typi-

ing Simpson Charts. In addition, several important cally presented in the form of charts where the thrust

modiﬁcations to the original charts are noted. The force parameter is plotted against the backpressure

thrust force equations for a relief valve operating with ratio. The ratio of outlet area to relief valve nozzle area

a subcritical nozzle and a subcritical outlet, which are is used as a parameter. The charts can be used only for

absent from the original Simpson Charts, are included compressible gas ﬂow in relief valves. The effect of the

here. The extent of the region where the relief valve ﬂuid properties is incorporated via the heat capacity

operates with a critical ﬂow nozzle and a subcritical ratio of the gas under consideration. Each value of the

ﬂow outlet is modiﬁed to account for backpressure heat capacity ratio yields a new Simpson Chart. The

effects. Finally, the concept of a minimum relief valve Simpson Chart for a gas with a heat capacity ratio of

outlet to nozzle area ratio is introduced. © 2006 Amer- 1.40 is shown in Figure 1.

ican Institute of Chemical Engineers Process Saf Prog For this diagram, the stagnation pressure is the ves-

25: 203–213, 2006 sel static relieving pressure in absolute pressure units,

whereas the backpressure is the static pressure imme-

diately downstream of the relief valve exit plane in

INTRODUCTION

absolute pressure units as well. The backpressure ratio

Thrust forces are developed when a pressure safety

is the backpressure divided by the stagnation pressure.

valve actuates. If the relief valve is mounted directly to

The parameter k is the heat capacity ratio for the gas

the vessel, there is no net force at the relief valve nozzle

under consideration and is evaluated at the vessel stag-

because the relief valve disk acts as a thrust plate that

nation conditions; An is the cross-sectional area of the

balances the momentum of the ﬂowing ﬂuid. In other

relief valve nozzle; and Ae is the cross-sectional area of

words, the vessel restraints and weight are normally

the relief valve outlet. The thrust force parameter is a

sufﬁcient to balance the forces that are developed at

dimensionless ratio deﬁned by the following equation,

the relief valve nozzle. However, the balance of forces

where TR is the thrust force and P0 is the vessel stag-

at the relief valve exit may not be zero. The thrust force

nation pressure:

at the relief valve exit acts in a direction opposite to the

direction of the mass ﬂow discharging from the relief

valve. To properly secure relief valves and prevent TR

Thrust Force Parameter ⫽ (1)

damage to connected components such as pipes and P0An

equipment nozzles, it is necessary to estimate the mag-

Each Simpson Chart can be divided into three re-

© 2006 American Institute of Chemical Engineers gions as shown in Figure 1. Each region represents a

Figure 1. Simpson Chart: Thrust force for a compressible gas or vapor with a heat capacity ratio of 1.40.

different ﬂow regime within the relief valve geometry. TR ⫽ thrust force, N

For Region A, the ﬂow is choked at the relief valve W ⫽ ﬂuid mass ﬂow, kg/s

nozzle and at the relief valve exit plane. For Region B, ue ⫽ ﬂuid velocity at the relief valve outlet, m/s

the ﬂow is choked at the relief valve nozzle, but is Ae ⫽ cross-sectional area of the relief valve outlet, m2

unchoked at the relief valve exit plane. In Region C, the Pe ⫽ pressure at the relief valve outlet, Pa

ﬂow is unchoked throughout the relief valve geometry. Pb ⫽ backpressure at the relief valve outlet, Pa

Region A is a very important ﬂow regime. In this The ﬁrst term on the right side of this equation

region, the ﬂow is choked at the relief valve exit plane. represents the thrust force arising from ﬂuid momen-

This type of relief valve ﬂow pattern is often referred to tum. The second term represents the thrust force re-

as “body-bowl” choking. It must be considered care- sulting from the potential pressure discontinuity at the

fully when evaluating the effect of backpressure on the relief valve outlet.

performance of a relief valve. Dividing Eq. 2 by the stagnation pressure (P0) and

relief valve nozzle cross-sectional area (An) yields the

BASIC FORCE BALANCE FOR A PRESSURE SAFETY VALVE dimensionless steady-state thrust force equation:

The basic steady-state force balance for a venting

relief valve is given by the following equation:

T R ⫽ Wu e ⫹ A e 共P e ⫺ P b 兲 (2)

TR

⫽ ⫹

P 0A n P 0A n A n 再

Wu e A e P e ⫺ P b

P0 冎 (3)

The following nomenclature and units are used: for a compressible perfect gas. The results of this eval-

204 September 2006 Published on behalf of the AIChE DOI 10.1002/prs Process Safety Progress (Vol.25, No.3)

Figure 2. System sketch and model sketch.

uation are the Simpson Charts. In each chart, the thrust Subscripts e, n, *, and b denote, respectively, the

force parameter is plotted against the backpressure relief valve exit plane, the relief valve nozzle, the relief

ratio (Pb /P0). The ratio of the relief valve outlet area to valve body, and the conditions immediately down-

relief valve nozzle area (Ae /An) is used as a parameter. stream of the relief valve exit plane.

The mass ﬂow and exit velocity can be eliminated

from Eq. 3 by using the mass ﬂux at the relief valve THRUST FORCE EQUATIONS

outlet: Three cases must be considered.

• Case 1: presumes the ﬂow through the relief valve

W ⫽ G eA e (4) is choked at the relief valve nozzle and at the

relief valve exit plane.

Ge • Case 2: the ﬂow through the relief valve nozzle is

ue ⫽ (5)

e still choked, but the ﬂow at the relief valve exit

plane remains unchoked.

Substitution of Eqs. 4 and 5 into Eq. 3 yields the • Case 3: considers unchoked ﬂow throughout the

following working dimensionless thrust force equation: relief valve geometry.

The ﬂow process to bring the ﬂuid from the stagna-

TR

⫽

A e G e2

⫹

P 0A n A n P 0 e A n 再

Ae Pe ⫺ Pb

P0 冎 (6)

tion condition to the nozzle throat is assumed to be

isentropic, that is, adiabatic and reversible. The ﬂow

from the nozzle throat to the relief valve body is as-

MODEL sumed to be adiabatic, but irreversible. Finally, the ﬂow

To evaluate the thrust force equation, it is necessary through the outlet nozzle is also assumed to be isen-

to solve the ﬂow and pressure balances from the stag- tropic. All ﬂow patterns are assumed to be frictionless

nation condition through the relief valve nozzle into and at steady state. In essence, the relief valve is mod-

the relief valve body and ﬁnally through the relief valve eled as two ideal frictionless nozzles that are fed from

exit plane. The important variables and parameters an inﬁnite reservoir and separated by a plenum.

necessary to solve these balances are shown in Fig- The body of a relief valve has a very complicated

ure 2. geometry. In addition, there are few, if any, geometric

The following nomenclature for the variables and similarities between the bodies of various relief valve

parameters shown in Figure 2 is used: sizes and relief valve manufacturers. As a result of this

TR ⫽ thrust force, N complex geometry, the ﬂow pattern of the relieving

A ⫽ cross-sectional area, m2 ﬂuid in the relief valve body is also very complicated.

W ⫽ mass ﬂow, kg/s To assume that the body and outlet act as a frictionless

u ⫽ velocity, m/s ideal nozzle is, in many respects, a drastic simpliﬁca-

P ⫽ pressure, Pa tion. However, in making this assumption the mathe-

T ⫽ temperature, K matics becomes tractable and, as is shown herein, the

⫽ density of the gas, kg/m3 answers obtained are reasonable.

G ⫽ mass ﬂux, kg m⫺2 s⫺1 For each of the three cases mentioned above, eight

M ⫽ molecular weight of the gas, kg/kmol independent nonlinear algebraic equations in eight un-

k ⫽ speciﬁc heat ratio of the gas, unitless knowns (Pn, P*, Pe, n, *, e, Gn, and Ge) can be

Process Safety Progress (Vol.25, No.3) Published on behalf of the AIChE DOI 10.1002/prs September 2006 205

再冎 再 冎

共k⫺1兲/k 共k⫹1兲/共k⫺1兲

developed and solved simultaneously in terms of the G e2 A n2 P 0 P e 2

known parameters (P0, Pb, An, Ae, and k). The results of ⫽k 2 (11)

P 0 e A e Pe P* k⫹1

this ﬂow analysis are then used in Eq. 6 to calculate the

thrust force parameter from the known parameters in-

再冎 冋 再

dicated. Details of the derivations are not included 共k⫺1兲/k

here. However, the results for each of the three cases Pe 1 1 P 0 P e2

⫽ ⫹ ⫹ 2共k ⫺ 1兲

are shown below. Interested readers can consult P* 2 2 P e P 02

D’Alessandro [2], where a considerable amount of ad-

冉 冊 冎册

共k⫹1兲/共k⫺1兲 1/ 2 ⫺1

ditional detail is given on the derivations and other A n2 2

aspects of this subject including comparisons of the ⫻ (12)

A e2 k ⫹ 1

methods given here to other methods in the open

literature.

Case 1—Region A: Choking at Relief Valve When Eqs. 11 and 12 are combined and substituted

Nozzle and Exit Plane into the thrust force expression (Eq. 13) for the thrust

For Region A, solving the ﬂow and pressure bal- force on a relief valve when the ﬂow is choked at the

ances through the relief valve yields the two following relief valve nozzle and unchoked at the relief valve exit

expressions: is obtained. This equation yields the curves shown in

Region B of Figure 1:

再 冎

k/共k⫺1兲

Pe An 2

再 冎

⫽ (7) 共k⫹1兲/共k⫺1兲

P0 Ae k ⫹ 1 An 2

2k

TR Ae k ⫹ 1

冋 再 冎 册

G 2

Pe ⫽ 2 共k⫹1兲/共k⫺1兲 1/ 2

e P 0A n P b Pb A n2 2

⫽k (8) ⫹ ⫹ 2共k ⫺ 1兲

P 0 e P0 P0 P 02 A e2 k ⫹ 1

(13)

Substitution of Eqs. 7 and 8 into Eq. 6 leads to the

desired expression for the thrust force parameter:

Case 3—Region C: Subcritical Flow through the

再 冎

k/共k⫺1兲

TR 2 Ae Pb Entire Relief Valve

⫽ 共k ⫹ 1兲 ⫺ Generally speaking, thrust forces are small in Region

P 0A n k⫹1 An P0

C. The pressure discontinuity term in the thrust force

再 冎

1/共k⫺1兲

2 Ae Pb expression (Eq. 6) is again zero because the ﬂow is

⫽2 ⫺ (9)

k⫹1 An P0 unchoked at the relief valve exit plane.

When the equations describing the ﬂow and pres-

Equation 9 is the Simpson equation for the thrust sure balances for the pressure relief valve are solved

force on a relief valve when the ﬂow through the relief simultaneously, the following equations are obtained:

valve is choked at both the relief valve nozzle and the

再 冎 再 冎 再 冎再 冎 再 冎

relief valve exit. This equation yields the lines shown in 共3⫺k兲/k 2/k 2 2/k 共k⫺1兲/k

P* P* Ae Pb P*

Region A of Figure 1.

From this equation one easily determines that the ⫺ ⫺

P0 P0 An P0 P0

再 冎再 冎

maximum thrust occurs when the backpressure is zero. 2 共k⫹1兲/k

Under these circumstances, the thrust force parameter Ae Pb

is given by ⫹ ⫽0 (14)

An P0

再 冎 再 冎

1/共k⫺1兲

TR 2

再 冎冋再 冎 再 冎 再 冎册

⫽2 when Pb ⫽ 0 (10) 共k⫺1兲/k 1/k

P 0A n max

k⫹1 G e2 2k P* Pb Pb

⫽ ⫺ (15)

P 0 e k⫺1 P0 P0 P0

The maximum thrust force parameters for k values

of 1.01, 1.40, and 1.80 are 1.215, 1.268, and 1.313,

respectively. Generally speaking, larger heat capacity For a given heat capacity ratio, outlet to nozzle area

ratios result in larger relief valve thrust forces. ratio, and backpressure ratio, Eq. 14 yields a speciﬁc

body pressure ratio. Trial and error calculations are

Case 2—Region B: Choking at the Relief Valve necessary. Because this equation has multiple roots,

Nozzle Only care is required to obtain the physically real solution for

For Region B, the outlet nozzle is unchoked. This the body pressure ratio. Starting the trial and error

implies that the exit pressure (Pe) is equal to the back- calculation with a body pressure ratio of 0.999 ensures

pressure (Pb). Therefore, the second term on the right that the correct solution is obtained.

side of Eq. 6 becomes zero. When the working equation for the thrust force (Eq.

When the ﬂow and pressure balances are solved for 6) is combined with Eq. 15, the following expression is

this case, the following two expressions are obtained. obtained:

206 September 2006 Published on behalf of the AIChE DOI 10.1002/prs Process Safety Progress (Vol.25, No.3)

再 冎再 冎冋再 冎 再 冎 再 冎册

共k⫺1兲/k 1/k Boundary between Region B and Region C

TR Ae 2k P* Pb Pb

⫽ ⫺ For the boundary between Region B and Region C,

P 0A n An k⫺1 P0 P0 P0 the Simpson Chart compares the nozzle choking pres-

(16) sure directly to the backpressure. The result is the

vertical line between Region B and Region C shown in

Figure 1. This assumes that there is no pressure drop

Once a body pressure ratio is calculated by Eq. 14,

between the relief valve body and the relief valve exit

the corresponding thrust force parameter is calculated

plane when the relief valve outlet is unchoked. A dif-

using Eq. 16. The expressions shown above, Eqs. 14

ferent approach is used here. The body pressure is

and 16, represent Region C on the Thrust Force Chart.

compared against the nozzle choking pressure instead:

The graphical representation and underlying equations

for Region C were not included in the original Simpson

work. As should be expected, Eqs. 14 and 16 yield the P*

correct limit when the backpressure equals the stagna- Pn

If ⬍ then the flow is choked (20)

tion pressure. That is, at this limit, the body pressure P0 P0

equals the stagnation pressure and the thrust force

parameter equals zero.

P* Pn

BOUNDARY CONDITIONS If ⱖ then the flow is unchoked and Pn ⫽ P*

P0 P0

As mentioned previously and illustrated in Figure 1,

the Simpson Charts are segregated into several distinct (21)

regions. In Region A, the ﬂow through the relief valve

is choked at both the relief valve nozzle and the relief

valve exit. For Region B, the ﬂow is choked only at the The nozzle choking pressure is calculated using the

relief valve nozzle, but not at the relief valve exit where classical expression for the isentropic ﬂow of an ideal

the ﬂow is subcritical. In Region C, the ﬂow is not gas given by Eq. 22. The body pressure is calculated by

choked either at the relief valve nozzle or the relief using Eq. 23, which is an alternate form of Eq. 12 with

valve exit. The equations derived thus far can now be the exit pressure set equal to the backpressure:

used to develop expressions for the boundaries be-

再 冎

tween these regions. Pn 2 k/共k⫺1兲

⫽ (22)

Boundary between Region A and Region B P0 k⫹1

For the boundary between Region A and Region B,

再 冎再 冋

the relief valve exit pressure is compared to the back- P*

pressure to determine whether the ﬂow is choked or Pb 1 1

⫽ ⫹ 1 ⫹ 2共k ⫺ 1兲

unchoked. First, Eq. 7 is used to calculate the relief P0 P0 2 2

再 冎再 冎 册 冎

valve exit pressure. Then the following two criteria are ⫺2 共k⫹1兲/共k⫺1兲 1/ 2 k/共k⫺1兲

used to determine the ﬂow condition at the relief valve A eP b 2

⫻ (23)

exit plane: A nP 0 k⫹1

Pb Pe

If ⬍ then the flow is choked (17) An expression for the boundary between Region B

P0 P0 and Region C is obtained by setting Eq. 22 equal to Eq.

23. Algebraic manipulation yields the desired result,

Pb Pe expressed as

If ⱖ then the flow is unchoked and Pe ⫽ Pb

P0 P0

再 冎 再 冎再 冎 再 冎

共k⫹1兲/k

(18) Pb 2 Pb 2/k

k⫺1

⫺ ⫹

P0 BC

k⫹1 P0 BC

2

To determine the thrust force parameter at the

再 冎再 冎

2 2/共k⫺1兲

boundary between Region A and Region B, Pe is set An 2

⫻ ⫽0 (24)

equal to Pb in Eq. 7. The resulting expression is com- Ae k⫹1

bined with Eq. 9 to yield the following desired expres-

sion:

For a given heat capacity ratio and nozzle to outlet

k/共k⫺1兲

TR 2

⫽k when Pe ⫽ Pb (19) the boundary between Region B and Region C. Back-

P 0A n AB

k⫹1 pressure ratios equal to or greater than the value ob-

tained by this equation will result in an unchoked relief

This equation describes the horizontal line between valve nozzle. For the relief valve nozzle to remain

Region A and Region B on the Simpson Charts shown choked, the actual backpressure must be less than the

in Figure 1. This boundary is independent of the back- backpressure calculated by Eq. 24.

pressure until the backpressure becomes high enough To determine the thrust force parameter at the

to unchoke the relief valve exit. boundary between Region B and Region C, Eq. 16 is

Process Safety Progress (Vol.25, No.3) Published on behalf of the AIChE DOI 10.1002/prs September 2006 207

combined with Eq. 23, yielding the following expres- based on either the Region A equations or Region B

sion: equations, is as follows:

再 冎 再 冎再冋再 冎 再 冎 再 冎 再 冎

⫺k/共k⫺1兲

2 2 Ae 2

TR k Ae Pb ␣m ⫽ ⫽ (27)

⫽ ⫹ 2共k ⫺ 1兲 An k⫹1

P 0A n k⫺1 An P0 min

BC BC

再 冎 册 再 冎再 冎 冎

共k⫹1兲/共k⫺1兲 1/ 2

Pressure safety valves with outlet to nozzle area

2 Ae Pb

⫻ ⫺ (25) ratios less than those calculated by Eq. 27 cannot choke

k⫹1 An P0

BC at the main nozzle. For heat capacity ratios of 1.001,

1.40, and 1.80, the minimum outlet to nozzle area ratios

are 1.655, 1.892, and 2.132, respectively.

This equation along with Eq. 24 is used to map the new

boundary between Region B and Region C. REVISED THRUST FORCE CHARTS

It is interesting to note what happens to Eq. 24 as the Based on the analysis shown in the previous sec-

ratio of the outlet area to the nozzle area becomes very tions, a revised thrust force chart is constructed. For

large. Under these circumstances, the third term in Eq. each heat capacity ratio, a different chart can be gen-

24 approaches zero and the expression simpliﬁes to the erated. The thrust force chart for a gas or vapor with a

following equation: heat capacity ratio of 1.4 is shown in Figure 3. The

identical thrust force chart, noting all pertinent equa-

再冎 再 冎

k/共k⫺1兲

tions, is shown in Figure 4.

Pb 2 Figures 3 and 4 can easily be compared with the

⫽ (26)

P0 BC 共 A e /A n 3⬁兲

k⫹1 original Simpson Chart (Figure 1). Differences include

the following aspects:

1. The extent of Region A is limited by the existence of

This is the equation that yields the vertical boundary a minimum outlet to nozzle area ratio and this min-

line between Region B and Region C in the original imum value is ⬎1.0.

Simpson Charts. In this article, however, it represents 2. Region C has a complete set of thrust force curves

only the boundary point for very large outlet to nozzle that smoothly converge with the thrust force curves

area ratios. in Region B.

3. The boundary line between Region B and Region C

is curved rather than a straight vertical line and this

Minimum Outlet to Nozzle Area Ratio

curve depends on the backpressure and the heat

Before showing the expressions for the minimum

capacity ratio.

area ratio, a simple “thought” experiment is helpful. Let

us assume there are two equal-diameter ideal friction- Holding the relief valve outlet to nozzle area ratio

less nozzles in series, separated by a plenum and op- constant and using the heat capacity ratio as a param-

erating under steady-state conditions. The ﬂowing ﬂuid eter can generate an alternate form of the thrust force

is assumed to be a perfect gas. In addition, let us chart. This type of thrust force chart is shown in Figure

assume that the backpressure is low enough to ensure 5 for a 4M6 pressure safety valve with an outlet to

choking at the downstream nozzle. Based on mass ﬂow nozzle area ratio of 7.12. The heat capacity ratio is

continuity at steady-state conditions, the mass ﬂux varied from 1.001 to 1.80.

times the cross-sectional area for both nozzles must be

equal. Because the diameters of both nozzles are equal, EXAMPLE PROBLEMS

the mass ﬂux through the upstream nozzle must be To illustrate the use of the revised thrust force charts

equal to the mass ﬂux through the downstream nozzle. and the associated equations developed herein, the

However, the pressure in the plenum between the two following examples, extracted from the CCPS Guide-

nozzles must also be lower than the stagnation pres- lines for Pressure Relief and Efﬂuent Handling Systems

sure feeding the upstream nozzle. If the upstream noz- [3], are presented.

zle is choked, the mass ﬂux through this nozzle must be

greater than the mass ﬂux through the downstream Example Problem 1

nozzle. This is a logical inconsistency. Therefore, if the Consider acetone ﬂowing through a typical 2J3 pres-

cross-sectional areas of both nozzles are equal and the sure safety valve. That is, the valve has a 2-in. nominal

downstream nozzle is choked, the upstream nozzle inlet, a J oriﬁce designation, and a 3-in. nominal outlet.

must be unchoked. The ASME actual nozzle area is 1.452 in.2 and the ASME

Obviously, the same conclusion is reached if the discharge coefﬁcient is 0.864. The valve outlet has an

downstream nozzle has a cross-sectional area smaller inside diameter of 3.068 in. (7.393 in.2 or 0.004770 m2).

than that of the upstream nozzle. Based on this The pressure safety valve has a set pressure of 50 psig

“thought” experiment, there must be an outlet to nozzle and operates with a 5 psi or 10% overpressure. Based

area ratio ⬎ 1.0 where both the upstream and down- on this, the relieving pressure is 55 psig or 69.7 psia.

stream nozzles cannot be choked. The ﬂow and pres- For a relieving condition of 69.7 psia, the CCPS exam-

sure balance equations for Region A or Region B can be ple indicates a relieving temperature of 109.7° C

used to determine this minimum area ratio. The result, (382.85 K) with a corresponding heat capacity ratio of

208 September 2006 Published on behalf of the AIChE DOI 10.1002/prs Process Safety Progress (Vol.25, No.3)

Figure 3. Thrust force chart for a compressible gas or vapor (k ⫽ 1.40 and Ae /An ⱖ ␣m).

lbmol. The backpressure immediately downstream of ⫽ ⫽ 0.283

P 0 69.7

the pressure safety valve exit plane is 5 psig or 19.7

psia.

Although the recommendation suggested herein is Determine the choking pressure at the relief valve exit

to use the ASME actual nozzle area and a discharge by using Eq. 7.

coefﬁcient of 1.0 for calculating the thrust force, the

再 冎

CCPS example reduces the nozzle area by multiplying

by the ASME discharge coefﬁcient. To allow an equiv- P e 共1.452兲共0.864兲 2 1.102/共1.102⫺1兲

⫽

alent comparison, the same approach is taken here. P0 7.393 1.102 ⫹ 1

The outlet to nozzle area ratio and the backpressure

⫽ 0.0991 f P e ⫽ 共0.0991兲共69.7兲 ⫽ 6.91 psia

ratio are calculated ﬁrst. The outlet to nozzle area ratio

is above the minimum value for a gas with a heat

capacity ratio 1.102.

Because the choking pressure at the relief valve exit

plane is less than the given backpressure, the ﬂow is

Ae 7.393 unchoked at the relief valve outlet. Therefore, the relief

⫽ ⫽ 5.893

A n 共1.452兲共0.864兲 valve exit pressure is set equal to the backpressure. In

Process Safety Progress (Vol.25, No.3) Published on behalf of the AIChE DOI 10.1002/prs September 2006 209

Figure 4. Thrust force chart for a compressible gas or vapor (k ⫽ 1.40 and Ae /An ⱖ ␣m).

再 冎 册 冎

addition, the operating condition of this relief valve lies 共1.102⫹1兲/共1.102⫺1兲 1/ 2 1.102/共1.102⫺1兲

2

in either Region B or Region C on the thrust force chart. ⫻

1.102 ⫹ 1

Now, determine the choking pressure at the relief

valve nozzle by using Eq. 22: ⫽ 0.3033 f P * ⫽ 共0.3033兲共69.7兲 ⫽ 21.1 psia

再 冎

1.102/共1.102⫺1兲

Pn 2

⫽ ⫽ 0.5843 f P n

P0 1.102 ⫹ 1

Given that the calculated relief valve body pres-

⫽ 共0.5843兲共69.7兲 ⫽ 40.7 psia sure (21.1 psia) is less than the relief valve nozzle

choking pressure (40.7 psia), the ﬂow is choked at

The body pressure is determined by using Eq. 23: the relief valve nozzle. Therefore, the operating

point for this relief valve lies in Region B on the

再 冎再 冋

P* 19.7 1 1 thrust force chart.

⫽ ⫹ 1 ⫹ 2共1.102 ⫺ 1兲 Because the ﬂow is choked at the relief valve nozzle

P0 69.7 2 2 and unchoked at the relief valve exit plane, Eq. 13 is the

再 冎

⫺2 correct expression for evaluating the thrust force pa-

7.393 䡠 19.7

⫻ rameter:

1.452 䡠 0.864 䡠 69.7

210 September 2006 Published on behalf of the AIChE DOI 10.1002/prs Process Safety Progress (Vol.25, No.3)

Figure 5. Thrust force chart: 4M6 PSV with outlet to nozzle area ratio of 7.12.

再 冎

共1.102⫹1兲/共1.102⫺1兲

1 2

2共1.102兲

TR 5.893 1.102 ⫹ 1

再冋 册 冋 册冋 册 冎

⫽ 2 2 共1.102⫹1兲/共1.102⫺1兲 1/ 2 ⫽ 0.2358

P 0 A n 19.7 19.7 1 2

⫹ ⫹ 2共1.102 ⫺ 1兲

69.7 69.7 5.893 1.102 ⫹ 1

Now the thrust force can be calculated using the tional comparison, the alternate COMFLOW value of

deﬁnition of the thrust force parameter (Eq. 1): 21.2 lbf is also obtained from the CCPS Book.

⫽ 91.7 N The same basic example is used here, except that a

signiﬁcantly higher stagnation pressure is used. This

higher stagnation pressure causes critical ﬂow at the

This value can be compared with the Simpson Chart pressure safety valve exit plane and thus the operating

value of 20 lbf given in the CCPS book. For an addi- point lies in Region A of the thrust force chart.

Process Safety Progress (Vol.25, No.3) Published on behalf of the AIChE DOI 10.1002/prs September 2006 211

Again acetone is ﬂowing through a typical 2J3 pres- Given that the calculated relief valve body pressure

sure safety valve. The ASME actual nozzle area is 1.452 (52.3 psia) is less than the relief valve nozzle choking

in.2 and the ASME discharge coefﬁcient is 0.864. The pressure (156.4 psia), the ﬂow is choked at the relief

valve outlet has an inside diameter of 3.068 in. (7.393 valve nozzle. Therefore, it is conﬁrmed that the oper-

in.2 or 0.004770 m2). The pressure safety valve has a set ating point for this relief valve lies in Region A on the

pressure of 250 psig and operates with a 25.0 psi or thrust force chart.

10% overpressure. Based on this, the relieving pressure Because the ﬂow is choked at the relief valve nozzle

is 275 psig or 289.7 psia. The saturation temperature of and choked at the relief valve exit plane, Eq. 9 is the

acetone at this pressure is 179.8° C (452.95 K) and the correct expression for evaluating the thrust force pa-

heat capacity ratio is 1.333. The molecular weight is rameter:

again 58.08 lb/lbmol. The backpressure immediately

downstream of the pressure safety valve exit plane is

再 冎

1/共1.333⫺1兲

TR 2

still 5 psig or 19.7 psia. ⫽2 ⫺ 共5.893兲共0.068兲

P 0A n 1.333 ⫹ 1

As in Example 1, the ASME discharge coefﬁcient is

applied. The outlet to nozzle area ratio and the back- ⫽ 0.8587

pressure ratio are calculated ﬁrst. The outlet to nozzle

area ratio is still above the minimum valve for a gas Now the thrust force can be calculated using the

with a heat capacity ratio 1.333. deﬁnition of the thrust force parameter (Eq. 1):

⫽ ⫽ 5.893

A n 共1.452兲共0.864兲 ⫽ 1388.3 N

⫽ ⫽ 0.068 To derive the equations shown in this article, several

P 0 289.7 assumptions were necessary. These assumptions limit

the applicability of these equations. Therefore, the

Determine the choking pressure at the relief valve exit reader is cautioned to apply these equations with care

by using Eq. 7: when conditions fall outside of the stated limitations.

In developing the ﬂow models, the following pri-

再 冎

mary assumptions concerning the ﬂuid and its ﬂow

P e 共1.452兲共0.864兲 2 1.333/共1.333⫺1兲

characteristics were made:

⫽

P0 7.393 1.333 ⫹ 1

1. The ﬂuid obeys the perfect gas law.

⫽ 0.0916 f P e ⫽ 共0.0916兲共289.7兲 ⫽ 26.54 psia 2. The ﬂow through the entire relief valve is adiabatic,

that is, heat is neither lost nor gained by the ﬂuid as

Because the choking pressure at the relief valve exit it ﬂows from the vessel stagnation condition to the

plane is greater than the given backpressure, the ﬂow is relief valve exit.

choked at the relief valve outlet. Therefore, the relief 3. The ﬂow through the entire relief valve is friction-

valve exit pressure is set equal to the exit choking less.

pressure. In addition, the operating condition of this 4. The ﬂow from the vessel stagnation condition to the

relief valve lies in Region A on the thrust force chart. relief valve nozzle is isentropic.

Check the choking pressure at the relief valve nozzle 5. The ﬂuid stagnates in the relief valve body.

by using Eq. 22: 6. The ﬂow from the relief valve body to the relief

valve exit plane is isentropic.

再 冎

1.333/共1.333⫺1兲

7. The heat capacity ratio for the gas is held constant

Pn 2 throughout the expansion process, that is, it is inde-

⫽ ⫽ 0.5398 f P n

P0 1.333 ⫹ 1 pendent of decreasing pressure and decreasing tem-

perature.

⫽ 共0.5398兲共289.7兲 ⫽ 156.4 psia

For the most part, these seven assumptions do not

severely limit the applicability of the charts or their

The body pressure is determined by using Eq. 23:

underlying equations. As discussed previously, As-

sumptions 5 and 6 are the most difﬁcult assumptions to

再 冎再 冋

P* 19.7 1 1 accept.

⫽ ⫹ 1 ⫹ 2共1.333 ⫺ 1兲 The thrust force parameters obtained from the equa-

P0 289.7 2 2 tions herein yield ideal theoretical thrust forces. The

再 冎

⫺2 real thrust force will probably be larger. The deriva-

7.393 䡠 19.7

⫻ tions assume steady-state ﬂow through the relief valve,

1.452 䡠 0.864 䡠 289.7

which is almost never true. Flow through a relief valve

再 冎 册 冎

共1.333⫹1兲/共1.333⫺1兲 1/ 2 1.333/共1.333⫺1兲 is almost always dynamic, with the relief valve opening

2

and closing, sometimes over very short periods of time.

1.333 ⫹ 1

This dynamic behavior tends to increase the reaction

⫽ 0.1805 f P * ⫽ 共0.1805兲共289.7兲 ⫽ 52.3 psia forces through harmonic effects. It is common practice

212 September 2006 Published on behalf of the AIChE DOI 10.1002/prs Process Safety Progress (Vol.25, No.3)

Table 1. Summary of other open literature methods for pressure safety valve thrust forces in gas/vapor service.

DIERS Project Manual [5] Correct equation Graph only Not included

DIERS Project Manual Incorrect equation Incorrect equation Not included Probably a

Errata [6] typographical error

CCPS Guidelines for ERS Graph only Graph only Not included

[3]

HSE Workbook [7] Incorrect equation Not included Not included Probably a

typographical error

API RP 520 [8] Correct equation Not included Not included

Crosby Relief Valve Correct equation Not included Not included Includes a 25% safety

Handbook [9] factor

to multiply the thrust force values obtained from a article has veriﬁed this approach and details can be

theoretical analysis by a dynamic load factor (DLF), found in D’Alessandro [2].

which has a maximum theoretical value of 2.0 and, in

most installations, this maximum value can be applied LITERATURE CITED

without severe cost implication [4]. 1. L.L. Simpson, Reaction forces from process vent-

ing, unpublished memorandum, Union Carbide

OTHER OPEN LITERATURE METHODS Corporation, Danbury, CT, October 1969.

Table 1 summarizes the status of the thrust force 2. R.N. D’Alessandro, Pressure safety valve thrust

methods for gas or vapor pressure safety valves in forces for compressible gas or vapor ﬂow, Proc Int

several of the major open literature sources. Most of Symp on Runaway Reactions and Pressure Relief

these do not include a method when the pressure Design, October 31–November 2, 2005, Cincinnati,

safety valve exit is unchoked and none includes a OH.

method when both the nozzle and outlet are un- 3. Center for Chemical Process Safety, Guidelines for

choked. Some are even in error! pressure relief and efﬂuent handling systems,

Additional details concerning the relationships be- American Institute of Chemical Engineers, New

tween the methods given in this article and those found York, 1998.

in API RP 520 [8] and the Crosby Pressure Relief Valve 4. J.E. Huff, Flow through emergency relief devices

Engineering Handbook [9] can be found in and reaction forces, J Loss Prev Process Ind 3

D’Alessandro [2]. (1990), 43– 49.

5. H.G.Fisher, H.S. Forrest, S.S. Grossel, J.E. Huff, A.R.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Muller, J.A. Noronha, D.A. Shaw, B.J. Tilley, Emer-

The author gratefully acknowledges the valuable gency relief system design using DIERS technol-

input obtained from Harold Fisher, Chairman of the ogy—The Design Institute for Emergency Relief

DIERS Users Group. In addition, thanks are extended System (DIERS) project manual, American Institute

to Andrew Jones, Jeff Seay, P.E., and Frank Fearn, P.E. of Chemical Engineers/Design Institute for Emer-

of Degussa Corporation for reviewing the original arti- gency Relief Systems, New York, 1992.

cle [2] before publication. 6. Errata to the DIERS project manual, published Jan-

A very special acknowledgement must also be ex- uary 5, 2005.

tended to Jim Huff, who reviewed the original article 7. J. Etchells and J. Wilday, Workbook for chemical

and provided extremely beneﬁcial feedback on some reactor relief system sizing, health and safety exec-

of the detailed technical aspects of the proposed meth- utive, Contract Research Report 136/1998, ISBN 0

ods. Huff maintains that the thrust force at the relief 7176 1389 5, ﬁrst published in 1998.

valve outlet can be determined without specifying the 8. American Petroleum Institute (API), Sizing, selec-

ﬂow path within the relief valve body. In other words, tion, and installation of pressure-relieving devices

the assumption of isentropic ﬂow from the relief valve in reﬁneries, Part II—Installation, API recom-

body to the relief valve exit is unnecessary. Instead, mended practice 520 (4th edition), API, Washing-

simply considering adiabatic ﬂow from the relief valve ton, DC, December 1994.

nozzle to the relief exit in conjunction with isentropic 9. Crosby Valve & Gage Company, Crosby pressure

nozzle ﬂow from the stagnation condition to the relief relief valve engineering handbook, Technical Doc-

valve nozzle and a continuity equation should be suf- ument No. TP-V300, Crosby Valve & Gage Com-

ﬁcient to calculate the thrust force. The author of this pany, Wrentham, MA, May 1997.

Process Safety Progress (Vol.25, No.3) Published on behalf of the AIChE DOI 10.1002/prs September 2006 213

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