PRV Set Point Accuracy

ASME NRC Pump & Valve Symposium July 2008
Presenter: Chad Dupill

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Pressure Relief Devices Performance Test Code 25-2001 (PTC 25-2001) The National Board Inspection Code (NBIC) Plant testimonials
– A special thanks to J. Alton Cox (Vice Chairman, NBIC Sub-Group Pressure Relief Devices) for his contributions in guidance, and experience.

Definitions NOTE: For the purpose of this paper we are going to define the following as: High Volume test bench – PRV Test device with at a minimum capacity volume of 28 Liter [1 cubic foot] test vessel and a minimum piping (between the Test Vessel and the Test Connection for the Valve being tested) diameter of 5 cm [2 inches]. Low Volume test bench – PRV Test device with a test vessel less than 28 Liter [1 cubic feet] and a piping diameter (between the Test Vessel and the Test Connection for the Valve being tested) of less than 5 cm [2 inches]. Set Pressure – The value of increasing inlet static pressure at which a pressure relief device displays one of the operational characteristics as defined under opening pressure, popping pressure, start-to-leak pressure, burst pressure, or breaking pressure. (The applicable operating characteristic for a specific device design is specified by the device manufacturer.) PTC 25-2001 Opening Pressure – The value of increasing inlet static pressure of a PRV at which there is a measurable lift, or at which the discharge becomes continuous as determined by seeing, feeling, or hearing. (For liquid Service) PTC 25-2001 Popping Pressure – The value of increasing inlet static pressure at which the disk moves in the opening direction at a faster rate as compared with corresponding movement at higher or lower pressures. PTC 25-2001 Start-to-Leak Pressure – The value of increasing inlet static pressure at which the first bubble occurs when a PRV is tested by means of air under a specified water seal on the outlet. PTC 252001 Chatter – abnormal rapid reciprocating motion of movable parts of a pressure relief valve in which the disk contacts the seat. PTC 25-2001 First Steady Stream – Set pressure for liquid Service Pressure Relief Valves. When gravity overcomes cohesion the water drops straight off the Pressure Relief Valve outlet; an observable, repeatable Phenomenon. NB 18 Cohesion – the attraction of like molecules Note: For the purposes of this paper Test Bench, Test Device, Test Stand, and/or Test Unit are interchangeable.


Testing methods and devices vary widely within the industry when testing for the set point of Pressure Relief Valves. Testing devices within Nuclear Plants range from:
– Shop built devices – Hand Pumps – Manufacturer built test devices – Others

To discuss some of the different design characteristics and how those design characteristics can affect your set point when testing for the set point of Pressure Relief Valves in both gas and liquid service.

Importance of following NBIC and ASME PTC-25-2001 recommendations on Internal Contours of Fittings, Adapter’s, and Reducers between Test Vessel and Test Device Recommended Volume Capacity
– PRV Seat Alignment

Air Evacuation

Internal Contours of Fittings, Adapter’s, and Reducers between Test Vessel and Test Device
ASME PTC 25-2001 states that “The pressure relief device to be tested shall be installed on a test vessel with adapter fittings (flanged, screwed, welded, etc.).” The NBIC also states that “any intervening piping between the test vessel and the pressure relief valve should be as short and straight as possible and be of adequate size to minimize inlet pressure drop.” ASME PTC 25-2001 goes on to state that “Other adapter fittings may be used provided the accuracy of the test is not affected.” ASME PTC 25-2001 and the NBIC recommend that when testing a PRV on a test bench the piping, adapters, and fittings leading up to the test valve need be taken into account in order to minimize the pressure drop as well as minimize the affect of flow turbulence on the final test results.

PTC 25-2001 Recommended Internal Contours of fittings, adapters, and reducers

PTC 25-2001 Recommended Arrangements for Testing Valves with Incompressible fluids

Tapered Inlet


Test Plate

Sharp Corner


Test Plate

Sharp Corner on Inlet may cause turbulence in flow path and result in poor performance from SRV including Flutter or Chatter.



Test Plate
Air Flow

Radius on Inlet eliminates turbulence in flow path and results in consistent performance from SRV without Flutter or Chatter.


Inlet Air Flow

Test Plate

Recommended Volume Capacity
Test vessels, piping size, and the size of test port vary to a large degree
– DeLuca Test standard model test benches are offered with 56 Liter [2 cubic foot] stainless steel test vessel, 7.6 cm [3 inch] piping and test port – well known Test bench manufacturer’s PRV test benches is offered standard with a 4 liter [less than .2 cubic feet], 1.3 cm [½ inch piping] and test port

Recommended Volume Capacity
The size of the vessel, piping, and test port affects the volume that the test bench has the capability to act on the valve which can affect the results of the test.
– may affect the results of the test specifically when conducting liquid service PRV test’s and possibly damage the PRV seat by inducing chatter when testing with air.

Recommended Volume Capacity
Liquid Service PRV Test
– Visually determining when you have achieved a first steady stream – If the test bench being utilized does not have sufficient volume it can be difficult for the operator to determine when they are actually achieving set pressure. – it can be very difficult, on a low volume test bench, to differentiate between a “Pre-leak” where cohesion causes the water to curve back toward the PRV inlet (which is not the PRV opening pressure) and a first steady stream.

Liquid Service PRV Testing
*It is necessary to have sufficient volume and flow path to accurately perform liquid service PRV Testing “First Steady Stream”



When Gravity overcomes Cohesion, the Water drops Straight off the PRV outlet. This is Set Pressure. It is an observable, repeatable Phenomenon. Opening Pressure

Recommended Volume Capacity
– Rich Booth, with Vermont Yankee, has experience with both Low and High volume test benches and stated that:

– Gary Caudill with VC Summer is also a strong proponent of high volume testing:
Has seen improved results by using his high volume test bench (3 inch diameter piping along with a 4 cubic foot Stainless Steel test vessel) when compared to the previous method of testing with a low volume test bench.

“Accuracy and repeatability of new relief valve test equipment (High Volume) exceeds the capabilities of the old equipment (low volume test unit). A three (3) inch test bench port and accumulator now provides the volume to control relief valve lift at set point more accurately versus the previous reciprocating pump test bench and 3/8 inch tube. The low volume test bench could in some instances only “burp” the valve before dropping below the lift point. Determination of manufacturer’s set points (i.e. first steady stream) was subjective, susceptible to inconsistencies and sometimes not achievable”.

PRV Seat Alignment
One of the primary issues with performance within a PRV design is Seat alignment Seat and Disc alignment is critical for PRV performance OEMs routinely employ radial surfaces called “bearing points” Allows for movement between the disc and the disc holder (commonly referred to as “disc rock”) Following a bench test or system pressure excursion, movement allows disc to re-align with the nozzle upon reseat forming a tight seal Low Volume Test Benches do not generate the lifting forces required to permit the disc to realign upon closure Consequently result in a leaking PRV PRV may have come out of the system tight, but as a result of a low volume test bench, the “as found” condition is “leaking below set point”

PRV Seat Alignment
Alton Cox (NBIC Sub-Group Pressure Relief Devices) recently participated in a liquid test with an ASME Consultant for a “UV” Certificate Holder which highlights the importance of volume in regards to PRV seat alignment.
– Alton stated that they “had to gush a liquid PRV …. to get it to stop leaking. We had 31 drops per minute (allowable was 2.5 dpm) after three successful lifts. Then we gushed the valve (sent into overpressure) and the PRV had zero drops after that.”

Air Evacuation
The “Air Bubble” trapped in the nozzle between the disc and the water Causes the first Test to give an inaccurate reading The trapped air beneath the seat of a PRV installed on a test bench skews the first “As Found” test Goal: Utilize the first pop as an actual documented Set Point Reading Eliminate the Air pocket Compressed Air generates a “burp” of compressible fluid just ahead of the liquid which follows it out of the PRV (Pre Conditioning) Has the effect of yielding something other than a steady stream as required by PTC 25 “As Found” set point may be different from expected

Liquid Test – Trapped Air in PRV Nozzle
Air compressed by liquid entering flow path will exhibit “pop” action on PRV initial lift

Liquid Test Media Test Plate

Air Evacuation
There are a couple methods commonly used to evacuate the compressed air out of the PRV prior to initiating the test.
– One of these methods is to literally rotate the entire valve and clamping station 180 degree’s in order to allow the air to escape, sometimes referred to as pre-conditioning the valve.
This method is effective but can be tedious and time consuming.

– Another method commonly used is to implement a test plate adapter with a bleed valve that is placed in between the test plate itself and the test valve. One then would pressurize the system with the bleed valve open until all of the air is evacuated. After all air is evacuated one would then close the bleed valve and initiate the test. – DeLuca incorporates a standard air evacuation tube design developed by Gary Caudill at VC Summer

Air Evacuation Incorporates a standard Air Evacuation tube design Completely eliminating the air pocket Saves time Validates the first “As Found” test

Method 3:

*Gary Caudill developed idea of the Air Evacuation method currently used by DeLuca to validate the “As Found” Set Pressure Test

Liquid Test Air Evacuation
Open water flows out tube, Insert Plastic close Water Air Evacuation Valve, remove tube,out tube evac valve Close WaterVent Clamp in Position air Tube fills test connection and Bypass Install Test Fill and Water forces When J-TubePRV,Valve, OpenFill ValveValve air Green Arrow OPEN Red Arrow CLOSE

J-Tube Vent


Water Fill Valve


Air Evac Valve

The National Board Inspection Code along with The ASME PTC 25-2001 provide input and recommendations in regards to bench testing Pressure Relief Valves and gives a basic guide on test bench layout and characteristics. Although these recommendations provide a base to follow they can still be open to interpretation. These interpretations will be evident in the differences in both the design’s and capabilities of PRV test benches found throughout the industry. PRV test bench users should be at least aware of these differences and the impact they could have on the accuracy of their set point results.

Richard Booth, Vermont Yankee Gary Caudill, V.C. Summer J. Alton Cox, Vice Chairman, NBIC SubGroup Pressure Relief Devices Curt Dupill, Dupill Group / DeLuca Test Equipment Dean Mathews, DeLuca Test Equipment


“Our Pressure Point is in the Volume”

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