Understanding pressure relief systems

Paul Boughton

Pressure relieving systems are an integral part of any process facility, from offshore production platforms to petrochemical complexes, and they usually provide the last line of defence against overpressure and loss of containment. Although their need is obvious, pressure relieving systems are not necessarily well understood by all chemical process engineers.

A profound understanding of the fundamentals of pressure relieving systems (including causes of overpressure, determination of relief loads, methods of pressure relief and how these concepts are tied together by applicable industry codes, standards and practices) is essential for process engineers to ensure that processes are operated safely under all circumstances. 

With ageing plant conditions, management of change (MOC) will create increasing challenges to assure safety is compliant with current legislative requirements. Changing process conditions and plant output objectives must be balanced with restrictions in maintenance and spare parts availability.

The use of simple pressure relief devices that cannot be tampered with – such as rupture discs or bursting disks – has proven to achieve the highest level of reliability and confidence from process engineers. These renowned devices are available in a wide range of sizes, materials of construction, set pressures and corresponding operating temperatures. They can be used to provide leak-tight seals upstream of other pressure relief devices such as safety or relief valves, helping to reduce the maintenance and operating cost of production facilities.

For more information, www.engineerlive.com/epe

Fike is based in Herentals, Belgium. 

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