Purpose and function of safety valves
The primary purpose of a safety valve is the protection of life, property and environment. A safety valve is designed to open and relieve excess pressure from vessels or equipment and to reclose and prevent the further release of fluid after normal conditions have been restored.
A safety valve is a safety device and in many cases the last line of defence. It is important to ensure that the safety valve is capable to operate at all times and under all circumstances. A safety valve is not a process valve or pressure regulator and should not be misused as such. It should have to operate for one purpose only: overpressure protection.
Reasons for excess pressure in a vessel
There is a number of reasons why the pressure in a vessel or system can exceed a predetermined limit. API Standard 521/ISO 23251 Sect. 4 provides a detailed guideline about causes of overpressure.
The most common are:
Exposure to external fire, often referred to as “Fire Case”
Heat exchanger tube rupture
Cooling system failure
Each of the above listed events may occur individually and separately from the other. They may also take place simultaneously. Each cause of overpressure also will create a different mass or volume flow to be discharged, e.g. small mass flow for thermal expansion and large mass flow in case of a chemical reaction. It is the user’s responsibility to determine a worst case scenario for the sizing and selection of a suitable pressure relief device.
Types of safety Valves
There is a wide range of safety valves available to meet the many different applications and performance criteria demanded by different industries. Furthermore, national standards define many varying types of safety valve.
The ASME standard I and ASME standard VIII for boiler and pressure vessel applications and the ASME/ANSI PTC 25.3 standard for safety valves and relief valves provide the following definition. These standards set performance characteristics as well as defining the different types of safety valves that are used:
ASME I valve – A safety relief valve conforming to the requirements of Section I of the ASME pressure vessel code for boiler applications which will open within 3% overpressure and close within 4%. It will usually feature two blowdown rings, and is identified by a National Board ‘V’ stamp.
ASME VIII valve – A safety relief valve conforming to the requirements of Section VIII of the ASME pressure vessel code for pressure vessel applications which will open within 10% overpressure and close within 7%. Identified by a National Board ‘UV’ stamp.
Standard safety valve – A valve which, following opening, reaches the degree of lift necessary for the mass flowrate to be discharged within a pressure rise of not more than 10%. (The valve is characterised by a pop type action and is sometimes known as high lift).
Full lift safety valve – A safety valve which, after commencement of lift, opens rapidly within a 5% pressure rise up to the full lift as limited by the design. The amount of lift up to the rapid opening (proportional range) shall not be more than 20%.
Direct loaded safety valve – A safety valve in which the opening force underneath the valve disc is opposed by a closing force such as a spring or a weight.
Proportional safety valve – A safety valve which opens more or less steadily in relation to the increase in pressure. Sudden opening within a 10% lift range will not occur without pressure increase. Following opening within a pressure of not more than 10%, these safety valves achieve the lift necessary for the mass flow to be discharged.
Diaphragm safety valve – A direct loaded safety valve wherein linear moving and rotating elements and springs are protected against the effects of the fluid by a diaphragm
Bellows safety valve – A direct loaded safety valve wherein sliding and (partially or fully) rotating elements and springs are protected against the effects of the fluids by a bellows. The bellows may be of such a design that it compensates for influences of backpressure.
Controlled safety valve – Consists of a main valve and a control device. It also includes direct acting safety valves with supplementary loading in which, until the set pressure is reached, an additional force increases the closing force.
The difference between a safety valve and a safety relief valve ;
Relief valve is a device designed to control the pressure in a vessel or system to a specific set level. A safety valve, on the other hand, is a device used to let go excess pressure from a vessel or equipment when the pressure crosses a certain predetermined limit.