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Depressuring Tutorial

In this posting, we will learn the depressuring simulation study using HYSYS simulator. The
simulation is mainly divided into two steps, fire case and adiabatic case. Commonly, the
fire case simulation result in the peak flowrate to flare, whereas the adiabatic case
simulation is used as basis in determining Minimum Design Metal Temperature
(MDMT). The following picture shows the summary of the simulation procedure using
HYSYS simulator
See the picture below. Hope it help

First, simulate the fire case. Next, simulate the adiabatic case, (the Cv result from fire case
shall be used in adiabatic case). And finally, the conclusion can be made based on the
simulation result.
My friend, I have made a tutorial for depressurring simulation. The tutorial comprises step
by step both for fire and adiabatic case. You can download the tutorial here. The
tutorial is dedicated to you, my friends, hope it useful for you.

Relieving Condition Exceed Design Temperature

Equipment design temperature is usually determined based on the maximum temperature


plus a certain margin. The margin could be different for each project, say 20F, 25 F or 30F.
Conducting rigorous simulation for fire case, the temperature in each stage simulation is
set higher than the previous stage by certain interval. Let say, using 10F in interval
temperature will result in temperature about 30F higher than the operating temperature at
third stage simulation. That is why; relieving temperature for fire case is very often higher
than the design temperature. Whether or not increasing rating pipe is required?.
PSV Doesn't Provide Adequate Protection of Fire Case
See the picture below

A Separator has operating temperature of 120 F with design temperature of 145F. Looking
at simulation above, in only two stages of temperature increase, the temperature will
reach 150F.
After fire, the temperature will increase commonly above the design temperature. And
even in some cases, the vessel could rupture before increasing pressure reaches PSVs
setting pressure. In other word, the vessel will have ruptured before the PSV open. Thus,
the PSV doesnt provide adequate protection for the vessel in case of fire.
For example, the following picture show that the metal plate temperature reaches 1200 F
in only 15 minutes after fire.

That is, actually, the PSV doesnt provide adequate protection for the vessel in case of fire.
Therefore, some other options for vessel protection from fire case beside the PSV should be
considered, such as:
1. Depressuring
2. External cooling
3. External insulation
4. Provide proper drainage
My friend, for now, we already know the fact that PSV will not give adequate protection for vessel in
fire case. But, why do we always provide PSV as protection devise of the vessel? Why do we
consider for fire case too? That could be a joke, right? In my opinion, that is all to meet the CODE
requirement
My friend, a note shall be made, although the relieving temperature is higher than the design
temperature, and the PSV is not efficient to protect the vessel against fire, the PSV remain to be
designed based on the relieving temperature, since the PSV is installed as a safe guard.
Example Case
I still remember, one of our friends has ever asked me; at that time, he did calculation of fire case
for instrument air receiver, the relieving temperature was exceeding the maximum allowable for
150# rating pipe. The question was, whether the 150# pipe rating of inlet PSV would be needed to

be increased to 300# or not?


Of course NOT, the pipe rating class of 150# does not need to be increased to 300#, since the
determination of pipe rating shall based on maximum condition without consider fire case.
Besides that, it is not common to design PSV for instrument air system with fire case. Personally, I
prefer calculate the PSV load of instrument air receiver based on blocked outlet case (if it is
possible). Furthermore, In some cases, it might not be applicable to size PSV of instrument air
receiver based on fire case. Actually, it shall be based on FERA (Fire and Explosion Risk Assessment)
justification whether the instrument air receiver included in fire zone or not.
The block outlet case has more possibility occurred than the fire case. Based on my experience, the
load of block outlet is also smaller than un-wetted fire case. Therefore, it is better to design PSV of
instrument air based on block outlet case than fire case. Moreover, if you still design PSV based on
fire case to consider worst case load, that PSV will not provide adequate protection for the vessel:
D.
Do you agree with me, don't you?
Talk back in comment section below and let me know your opinion !

Basic Depressuring - Why 15 minutes ?


In previous posting, we have discussed that PSV wouldnt provide adequate protection for
vessel of fire case. Therefore, depressurring can be applied for another safety layer.
Commonly the plant area is divided into the ESD Zone. Each ESD zone may contain one or

more equipments. ESDV or SDV valves are provided in each ESD Zone to isolate the
system zone. In case of fire, a system will be isolated by those SDV valves. Then the
inventory fluid (commonly gas phase only) in the system will be released to flare through
BDV valve. Commonly one BDV is provided for one system zone, but in some cases, it is
possible to provide more than one BDVs in one system zone.
See the picture.

EDP (Emergency Depressuring) is generally initiated by manual push button. In case of


fire, the operator will push the EDP push button in the control room. That will initiate SDV
valves closing and BDV valves opening. The hydrocarbon fluid will be released to flare so
that the pressure of the system will be depressurized to lower pressure at certain time
(recommendation from API STD 521, decrease the pressure to 100 psig or 50 % of the
system design pressure within 15 minutes)

For example, If a pool fire exposes the un-wetted carbon steel vessel, it will take about 15
minutes to heat the vessel wall to around 1 200 F (very close to materials allowable
stress condition). If the vessel is depressurized within the 15 min to 50 % of the initial
pressure, then the time to rupture would increase to about 2 - 3 hour "

Hope this picture will give better explanation

For thickness of vessel less than 1 inch, the system is depressurized to 100 psig, and for
more than 1 inch thickness can be depressurized to 50% of design pressure. The
depressuring time can be longer and less than 15 minutes. The depressuring time of 15
minutes is only an example in API STD 521 which is applicable for carbon steel vessel with
has thickness greater than 1 inch.

Consideration of limiting flare capacity, the depressuring time longer than 15 minutes may

be applied. It will result in lower depressuring load. Considering of the maximum reduction
of the vessel stress, vessel with thickness less than 1 inch, generally requires faster
depressuring rate. The faster the depressuring time, the higher the depressuring load. And
for the vessel with stainless steel material, the depressuring rate may be longer than 15
minutes for 1 inch thickness or more.
Based on my experience, many companies have their own manual for conducting
depressuring study. Generally, the maximum depressuring time of 15 minutes is applied.
But each company has difference consideration of thickness vessel and depressurized
pressure. Some companies apply that for thickness greater than 24.5 mm, the pressure is
depressurized to 50% of design pressure, but other companies apply that for thickness
greater than 60 mm the pressure can be depressurized to 50% of design pressure.
I have ever read discussion in Cheresources ( check here and here) about the depressuring
time, one of the participants says that his company applies the depressuring time which
depends on the vessel thickness. For thickness greater than 25.4 mm, 15 minutes
depressuring time is applied. The depressuring time will be decreased 3 minutes for each
5 mm decrease in thickness.
Yesterday, I checked to API STD 521, (Fifth Edition, Jan 2007), figure 1 (section 2.15.1.2.2),
the graphic show Plate Temperature vs Time After Fire for carbon steel 3.2 mm, 12.7
mm and 25.4 mm thickness. It is very logic that the required depressuring time for those
vessel are different each other. In my opinion, it is better to state in manual the
depressuring time will be decreased, say 2 or 3 or xx minutes, for each 5mm decrease in
thickness.
Oh,,I miss something important. Even though the depressuring time of 15 minutes is used,
the depressurization will not stop after 15 minutes and that the pressure will continue to
decline.
Ha ha ha,,I guess you already know that :D
Lets imagine, a PLANT is shutdown for annual maintenance purpose, the fire does not
exist, then the system is to be depressurized to atmosphere condition. In this case, the
system is depressurized in adiabatic condition, which means no heat input to the system.
During depressurization, the pressure decreases, and the temperature decreases as well.
The final temperature of adiabatic depressuring could be very low. As Process Engineer,
we have responsibility to determine the Minimum Metal Design Temperature (MDMT) for
each system zone based on the adiabatic depressuring case
My friend, thats all I can share today. Hopefully it is useful.

Depressuring - Spreadsheet Method


In Hysys Depressuring utility, the model is only specified as one horizontal or vertical
vessel. Dimension of that single vessel, is back calculated based on total liquid and vapour
volume. Wetted area calculation is difficult for horizontal vessel. It is difficult to match
wetted area and liquid volume of vessel with wetted area and volume of a system.
Also, In Hysys Depressuring Utility, the heat input model, especially of FIRE API521 method
only provide equation for heat flux of 21.000 BTU/ft^1.64/hr. HYSYS doesnt provide jet
fire case
How to solve those problems? To overcome those problems, we can use spreadsheet
method as explained in my tutorial. You can download the tutorial here. And for
better report of depressuring simulation study, I make a simple tutorial "here".
Thats all,,

Fire Case - Heat Input Rate

Fire can cause overpressure of storage or vessel. Either liquid vaporization of wetted
vessel or vapor expansion of unwetted vessel due to heat input will increase the pressure.
Heat input rate of fire exposure is not calculable from standard of heat transfer
fundamental. Fortunately, OSHA regulations specify standards which are to be followed for
particular material in storagevessel and API also provides formulas for calculating heat
input rate which are to be followed for particular condition of process vessel.
The following picture presents OSHA Venting Requirement of Fire Exposure to Storage
Vessel.

For flammable and combustible liquid, heat input refers to NFPA 30 as follow.

Note :
1. Information in table applies to liquified components ; see original standard for
nonliquified gases
2. CGA = Compressed Gas Association
NFPA = National Fire Protection Association
ANSI = American National Standard Association
3.Heat Input expressed in BTU/hr, with area in square feet.
4.See source documents for details of area calculations
My friend, if you want to check the correctness of value in above table, please refers to
original reference, Guidelines for Pressure Relief and Effluent Handling System, AMERICAN
INSTITUTE OF CHEMICAL ENGINEERS (AICHE), Table 3.3-1 (page 131 of 538). You can find
that book in our library.
API STD 521 provides formulas for calculating heat input rate to process vessel containing
liquid.
Q = 21.000 FA^0.82
Where adequate drainage and firefighting equipment do not exist, equation below should
be used,
Q = 34,500 FA^0.82
Regarding a drainage, as long as the amount of liquid which is spilled out around the
vessel is possibly decrease, use the first formula ( = heat flux 21000).
F is environment factor. The value F = 1 for bare vessel. Refer to API STD 521 Table 5
(page 17) for other than bare vessel.
A is wetted area of the vessel.

The value of A ^0.82 reflect that not 100% vessel area exposed by fire. It is true for large
vessel, for small vessel, we can use assumption that 100 % vessel area is totally exposed
by fire.
For example, for small bare vessel, the equation to be Q = 21.000 A.
My friend, please note, based on the formula, when 82% fraction area is applied the heat
flux is 21.000 BTU/ft^1.64/hr or 34500 BTU/ft^1.64/hr. And when 100% fraction area is
applied, the unit will be BTU/ft^2/hr. This understanding will useful in perform
depressuring simulation using HYSYS.
The above formula is for pool fire case which has heat flux of 21.000 BTU/ft1.64/hr.
Whereas, based on API STD 521, the heat flux for jet fire is 95.500 BTU/ft2/hr (average).
From the unit of heat flux for jet fire, its show that 100% fraction area is used (for jet fire is
localized heat flux).
Hope this drawing helps you get better understanding of pool fire and jet fire

And below is jet fire

My friend, in this posting we discuss about heat input rate of fire exposure for process vessel. The
following are the important point,
1. For adequate drainage and fire fighting exist, use formula Q = 21.000 FA^0.82
2. For small vessel, use 100% fraction area is exposed by fire, therefore Q =21.000 FA. In my
understanding, vessel with wetted area less than 200 ft2 can be considered small vessel (see NFPA
30)
3. For wetted vessel, overpressure caused by liquid evaporation, the relieving load capacity can be
calculated as heat input divided by latent heat of vaporization. (W = Q/Hv).
4. Heat flux of jet fire is very high (95.500 BTU/ft2/hr average), and in localized area.
5. I suggest you to sizing PSV on fire case for pool fire case only.
6. The relieving temperature can be higher than the vessel collapse temperature. Vessel will
collapse before increasing pressure reach PSVs set pressure. Therefore, actually, PSV doesnt

provide sufficient protection. Depressuring is one of the additional protections against


fire. (We will discuss about fire case depressuring both for pool and jet fire in other posting)
My friend, thank you for reading, please correct me if I'am Wrong.

Rigorous Method for Fire Case

In previous article, I have explained that relieving load for fire case can be calculated as heat input
divided by latent heat of vaporization. (W = Q/Hv). The heat input have been discussed before,
see fire case heat input rate. The latent heat of vaporization is rather difficult to be determined.
During fire, liquid in the vessel will be vaporized, but the amount of vapor formed is not fixed,
because the liquid composition is change overtime. In this article, I will explain you step by step the
rigorous method for fire case
Let imagine the system consist of a three phase separator below, the fire case calculation
procedure is as follow;
1. Determine the inventory volume of isolated system, both for condensate, water, and gas based
on actual size of the vessel and pipe.
2. Calculate the wetted area.

3. Perform simulation:
a. Define stream for WATER, CONDENSATE, and GAS. Input composition, pressure, and temperature
as operating condition of the three phase separator.
b. Adjust mass flow for those streams, to achieve actual volume for each stream in accordance with
inventory volume calculation (1). Mix those streams to be STREAM OPERATING
c. (a) and (b) is model of the separator at normal operating condition based on actual condition.

d. Install three phase separator, V-0. The STREAM OPERATING is as inlet stream to the separator.
Adjust Q-100 (heat input to vessel) to achieve pressure RELIEVING CONDITION

(e). The temperature and pressure will increase to initial RELIEVING CONDITION due to fire. (This
simulation assumes the PSV instantly reach relieving condition after opening). The outlet stream
from separator is mixed.
e. Balance the mixing stream (d) to stream RELIEVING CONDITION. Input the pressure of relieving
pressure value (=1.21 x set pressure).
f. (d) and (e) is model of the separator at relieving condition as initial stage which is PSV will start
open

g. Install a three phase separator (V-1). The stream RELIEVING CONDITION (e) is as inlet stream to
the separator.
h. Heat input due to fire case is calculated by increasing temperature with interval 10 F. Thus, set
the temperature outlet separator (V-1) of 10 F higher than the RELIEVING CONDITION.
i. The outlet stream is CONDENSATE 2, WATER 2 and VAPOR. The VAPOR will be divided into two
streams, LOAD STAGE 1 and VAPOR 2
j. Mix CONDENSATE 2, WATER 2 and VAPOR 2 to be INLET STAGE 2.
k. Adjust mass flow rate of VAPOR 2 to achieve actual volume flow of INLET STAGE 2 is equal with
initial actual volume STREAM OPERATING.
l. The stream LOAD STAGE 1 is relieving load fire case

m. The heat input to V-1 in HYSYS simulation is Q-1 BTU/hr, whereas the actual heat input is Q API
= 21.000 F A ^0.82 BTU/hr
n. Calculate the required time of increasing temperature at stage 1, that Is (Q-1) / (21.000 F.A
^0.82)
o. Install a three phase separator V-2. The stream INLET STAGE 2 is as inlet stream to the separator.
p. Repeat the procedure from (g) to (n), for stage 2, stage 3, stage 4 ....with temperature is
increased by 10F in every stage. We can stop the procedure if the cumulative time is one hour (its
assumed that the fire has been suppressed during 1 hr, you can use more than 1 hour if you want)
q. Calculate the required area for each stage, (with the relieving load are LOAD SATGE 1, LOAD
STAGE 2, LOAD STAGE 3, )
r. Use the stage requiring the maximum orifice area as basis datasheet of the PSV.
finish :D

Good morning my friend, That's all I can share today, Im very happy today because I find a new
spirit for better life. Don't regret what was loss; it didn't disappear actually, just in use by more
appropriate user to make it more useful thing. Sometimes we lose something, but at the same time,
we get the other thing that better, at least a lesson.
Hopefully you never bored with my article.
Thank for reading,

PSV Calculation - Kd,Kc,Kb factor

Hi friends, how are you today? Hopefully, you are not already bored with my articles. Now,
we will learn the concept of relief valve calculation. The spreadsheets not tell you
anything, but we should know what really it does. After read this fully article, I hope you
get a better understanding of the relief valve calculation concept, and then know well with
your spreadsheet.
Pressure is equal to the force divided by the area (P~F/A). That is a very basic concept. I
am sure you already familiar with this formula in the very beginning of junior high school.
In talking PSV, the force is generated by mass relieving rate. I am sure, all of us know well
that relieving rate is depends on cases that to be considered (e.g. fire, blocked discharge,
gas blow by etc.)
We need some corrections since the fluid flows through a relief valve nozzle orifice rather
than an ideal nozzle. For the same area, at certain condition, the flow capacity of relief
valve orifice must be less compared with the ideal one Its mean that more area is
required to handle the same mass relieving rate -. Thats why, there are some correction
factors are required such as; Kc, Kd, Kb, Kv, Kp, Kh, Kn etc.
Lets focus to Kc, Kd and Kb. I will make other posting for the explanation of the other
factors.
Effective Discharge Kd
Kd is effective discharge coefficient used for the mass flux capacity correction for the real
nozzle. The higher the Kd value, the closer the mechanical to an ideal design - ideal
nozzle, Kd = 1-. It is very obvious that the PSV has Kd value lower than 1. For instance, API
relief valve has Kd = 0.975 and 0.65 for gas and liquid respectively.

Kd is depends on the mechanical design. In other word, every vendor has a specific value
of Kd. It is important to be realized, so you are not always input 0.975 in the spreadsheet
whereas you use PSV other than API.
We can use API data as preliminary calculation only when we dont have any reference of
Kd value. We usually do this at proposal stage.
Some vendors have a better design PSV than standard API. In other word, they have Kd
value higher than 0.975. So, I suggest you to ask your vendor the exact value of Kd,
especially at project stage. There is potential that the smaller orifice area is required.
Combination with Rupture Disk Kc
Kc is correction factor when rupture disk to be installed upstream of the PSV.
Rupture disk is required to be installed at upstream of the PSV for system contain solid
that may plug the PSV over time. At HAZID/HAZOP, for toxic service, potential leaking of
relief valve shall be considered, and then rupture disk at upstream PSV can be used as
positive seal for the safeguard. That is why, based on my experience, the combination
rupture disk and PSV is very seldom to be applied in the gas processing.
Actually, the Kc value is complex. But I am sure, we seldom use it. So, I am not too interest
makes longer explanation. I understand many engineers hate with the long article with
something not practical, me too. If you want to know more detail about Kc, please read API
520 part I by yourself.
Impact of Back Pressure Kb
Back pressure is defined as a pressure existing at PSVs outlet. It impact to opening
pressure, reduction capacity, instability or may combination of all. Kb is required for
correction of reducing capacity.
For the low back pressure system that the impact is not significant, conventional type can
be used. And for the excessive back pressure service, pilot type PSV is required to
overcome it. Then, imagine that low back pressure for the conventional type and no
impact back pressure on pilot type due to mechanical design. Thats all, I think, very clear
why Kb is required for balance below type only.
Note that the back pressure correction factor Kb for conventional and pilot type is not
required, and then use Kb=1. Ask your vendor of Kb value as graphic- for using below
PSV type or refer to API 520 part 1 for preliminary design.
Actually, for conventional type, when the condition is non-critical due to superimposed
back pressure, Kb is required. But for now, rather than it will make you confuse, forget it
since there are not much system likes that.

The understanding of the back pressure is very important for process engineer. At this
time, at least, we know why Kb is required. I will make a separate posting for explanation
of back pressure for more detail. I have plan it will have been finished before the end of
this month. Dont miss it.
Thats all I can share this week. The required orifice area calculation procedure is covered
in API 520 part I. The standard relief valve orifice is also already stated in API 526 and
ASME Sec VIII. Please refer to those documents for the detail.

Built Up Back Pressure Calculation

My friend, do you still remember? One of consideration in selection of relief valve type is built up
back pressure. In this article I will explain you how to calculate the built up back pressure. Oh, do
you still remember what is built up back pressure? Is it a constant or variable?
Built up back pressure is pressure at outlet PSV in open mode, a variable back pressure since it is
depend on the relieving flow. Read my previous post about back pressure for more detail in built up
and superimposed back pressure

In this explanation I use a general flare system which the disposal is discharged to atmosphere via
flare stack. Let imagine, when relief valve open, relieving fluid flow thru Tail Pipe Sub Header
Main Header-Flare Drum-Seal Water Drum Flare Stack Flare Tip and finally discharged to
atmosphere at certain height ( for safe disposal purpose)
The Built up back pressure can be calculated by count up total pressure drop at the pipe, drum,
stack and tip. Start calculation from the pressure drop at the tip, then at stack until tail pipe of the
relief valve. The built up back pressure is pressure that exist at outlet relief valve ( that is same as
with total pressure drop from the tail pipe to the flare tip)
For more clear, see this picture below

To calculate the back pressure of the PSV, determine the pressure drop at tip, stack, Water Seal,
KOD and pressure drop along the pipe from point 2 to point 7. Since the pressure at outlet tip is
atmospheric pressure condition, we can calculate the pressure at outlet PSV, which is a total
pressure drop along the system from point 1 to point 7.
The basis back pressure calculation is rated flow. Rated flow is flow rate based on actual orifice area
of PSV. My friend, once the back pressure is calculated, then we can determine the PSV type. For
built up back pressure less than 10% of PSVs set pressure, a conventional type can be used.
Balance below type can be used for back pressure up to 30%, and pilot type shall be used for
higher back pressure. Note shall be made, even though the selection of PSV type is based on the
back pressure consideration, it is not the only consideration in PSV selection
After the back pressure calculated, we can also check the fluid condition due to decreasing pressure
from inlet PSV (relieving pressure) to outlet PSV (back pressure) using HYSYS simulator. Is hydrate
formed there? is the icing occurred? And for liquid phase, is the liquid will be flashed?

The back pressure calculation is so simple, isnt? How about if there is any PSV open
simultaneously? The difference is only the combined flowrate from others PSV shall be considered
in pressure drop calculation. Hopefully this picture help you more understand with the concept of
back pressure calculation.

See the picture above. I will explain you why the calculation of built up back pressure is very
important not only for PSV design but also for flare system design. Let imagine;
- PSV 01 is set at 50 psig with relieving flow of 200 lb/hr.
- PSV 02 is set at 100 psig with relieving flow of 1000 lb/hr.
In case the two PSV open simultaneously, what do you think what happen with the PSV 01 if the
back pressure of PSV 02 is more than 50 psig? Of course the PSV 01 cannot open properly
What is the solution? Hmm,, look at this picture, it will show you a better configuration of flare
header system to avoid that condition

The other options are increase the flare header size or provide 2 flare header for high pressure and
and low pressure separately.
The above sample is a very simple case. Sometimes, for instance in power failure case, there is
many PSV will open at the same time. The back pressure for each PSV shall be checked to ensure
each PSV can properly operated. The back pressure profile of each PSV can be used to determine
the configuration of the flare system
My friend, thats all, I can share to you. Hopefully, this topic reminds us that the back pressure is
something very important to be considered both in PSV and flare system design
Thank you for your attention.
Back Pressure Effect

In the previous article, two kinds of back pressure have been discussed. We have already
understood that back pressure has several impacts to PSV performance. In this article, we will learn
the impact of back pressure on the relief valve opening, operation and flow capacity.

My friend, If you dont have a good understanding on the definition of terminology such as;
overpressure, accumulation, set pressure, re seat pressure etc, I guest you will be confused with my
explanation. In this article, I wont to explain each of them, so please refer to API 520 part I by your
self. Its very important to understand the meaning of its definition.
PRESSURE RELIEF VALVE OPENING
Superimposed back pressure has impact to opening of conventional relief valve type. This back
pressure will give additional spring force onto valve disk in closed position. Therefore, the actual
spring setting can be reduced by an amount equal to the amount of superimposed back pressure.
Hopefully, this picture will help us.

For balance and pilot type, the compensation of the constant superimposed back pressure is not
required
PRESSURE RELIEF VALVE OPERATION
Excessive of built up back pressure has impact the conventional valve operates in unstable
condition. Its may be chatter or flutter. Chatter is rapid motion of closing and opening valve where
the disc contacts with the relief valve seat during cycling, whereas flutter is not contact with the
seat. Chatter cause damage to the valve.
PRESSURE RELIEF VALVE CAPACITY
Built up back pressure has impact reducing the valve capacity. High back pressure reduces the
lifting of disc result in reduction of flow capacity. For conventional type, built up back pressure shall
not exceed 10% of set pressure at 10% allowable overpressure. For application that allowable
overpressure is higher than 10%, say 16% of multiple valve application, then the built up back
pressure up to 16% of set pressure is allowed for conventional type.
See the picture below of capacity correction factor due to back pressure for conventional type
where the spring setting compensation for superimposed back pressure is required.

The figure below shows that the capacity of balance below type will be reduced significantly due to
back pressure. Look at this picture, hopefully you get the answer why we choose to use balance
below type for back pressure up to 30% at 10% allowable overpressure.

Finally, I can share this topic for you. Hopefully we get better understanding on the importance of
the back pressure. The back pressure is one of consideration for optimization flare system. For new
design system, which one do you prefer, use larger size of tail pipe to reduce back pressure or use
balance below type to overcome it?
Friends, Thank you for reading. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Critical - Subcritical

Hi my friend, how are you today? I am sorry, Its been a while my blog has not been updated. I was
very busy this week; therefore I had no time to write a new article. Ok, Let's continue the discussion
about back pressure. Now, by this article I will explain you that the critical and subcritical condition
depend on the back pressure.

Before I make further explanation, please note, explanation in this article will be limited for gas
vapor phase application only.
API 520 part 1 provides calculation procedure for sizing of effective area. The procedure is divided
to critical and subcritical condition that depends on the back pressure that exists at outlet PSV.
Critical condition is considered when the back pressure is lower than the critical flow pressure.
Critical Flow Rate
How critical condition occurred? If a compressible gas is expanded across a nozzle or orifice, at
constant upstream condition, its velocity increases with the decreasing downstream pressure. The
increasing velocity means that the mass flow rate increases. The flow rate will increase until a
limiting value.
At sonic velocity, the flow rate could never increase anymore even though the downstream
pressure is much lower. This maximum flow rate at sonic velocity is known as critical flow rate.

see this picture.

Critical Flow Pressure


To avoid confusion, terminology of critical flow pressure is used instead of critical pressure. Critical
flow pressure is defined as an absolute pressure at nozzle exit at critical flow rate. The actual
pressure at nozzle exit cannot fall below the critical flow pressure even though the downstream
pressure is much lower

Critical flow pressure can be calculated using the ideal gas relationship.

See above figure. For PSV, pressure at outlet is known as back pressure. Based on the back
pressure value, we can determine whether the condition is critical or subcritical.
Critical condition is considered if the back pressure is less than the critical flow pressure. In other
word, if the back pressure is greater than the critical flow pressure, it will be considered as
subcritical condition.

The orifice calculation procedures both for critical and sub critical condition shall be used in each
appropriate condition.
My friend, thats all, I can share to you. Critical and subcritical condition depend on the back
pressure. Hopefully, this topic reminds us that the back pressure is something very important to be
considered when we conduct PSV sizing.
Thank you for your attention.

Built Up Back Pressure Calculation

My friend, do you still remember? One of consideration in selection of relief valve type is built up
back pressure. In this article I will explain you how to calculate the built up back pressure. Oh, do
you still remember what is built up back pressure? Is it a constant or variable?
Built up back pressure is pressure at outlet PSV in open mode, a variable back pressure since it is
depend on the relieving flow. Read my previous post about back pressure for more detail in built up
and superimposed back pressure
In this explanation I use a general flare system which the disposal is discharged to atmosphere via
flare stack. Let imagine, when relief valve open, relieving fluid flow thru Tail Pipe Sub Header
Main Header-Flare Drum-Seal Water Drum Flare Stack Flare Tip and finally discharged to
atmosphere at certain height ( for safe disposal purpose)
The Built up back pressure can be calculated by count up total pressure drop at the pipe, drum,
stack and tip. Start calculation from the pressure drop at the tip, then at stack until tail pipe of the
relief valve. The built up back pressure is pressure that exist at outlet relief valve ( that is same as
with total pressure drop from the tail pipe to the flare tip)
For more clear, see this picture below

To calculate the back pressure of the PSV, determine the pressure drop at tip, stack, Water Seal,
KOD and pressure drop along the pipe from point 2 to point 7. Since the pressure at outlet tip is
atmospheric pressure condition, we can calculate the pressure at outlet PSV, which is a total
pressure drop along the system from point 1 to point 7.
The basis back pressure calculation is rated flow. Rated flow is flow rate based on actual orifice area
of PSV. My friend, once the back pressure is calculated, then we can determine the PSV type. For
built up back pressure less than 10% of PSVs set pressure, a conventional type can be used.
Balance below type can be used for back pressure up to 30%, and pilot type shall be used for
higher back pressure. Note shall be made, even though the selection of PSV type is based on the
back pressure consideration, it is not the only consideration in PSV selection
After the back pressure calculated, we can also check the fluid condition due to decreasing pressure
from inlet PSV (relieving pressure) to outlet PSV (back pressure) using HYSYS simulator. Is hydrate
formed there? is the icing occurred? And for liquid phase, is the liquid will be flashed?
The back pressure calculation is so simple, isnt? How about if there is any PSV open
simultaneously? The difference is only the combined flowrate from others PSV shall be considered
in pressure drop calculation. Hopefully this picture help you more understand with the concept of
back pressure calculation.

See the picture above. I will explain you why the calculation of built up back pressure is very
important not only for PSV design but also for flare system design. Let imagine;
- PSV 01 is set at 50 psig with relieving flow of 200 lb/hr.
- PSV 02 is set at 100 psig with relieving flow of 1000 lb/hr.
In case the two PSV open simultaneously, what do you think what happen with the PSV 01 if the
back pressure of PSV 02 is more than 50 psig? Of course the PSV 01 cannot open properly
What is the solution? Hmm,, look at this picture, it will show you a better configuration of flare
header system to avoid that condition

The other options are increase the flare header size or provide 2 flare header for high pressure and
and low pressure separately.
The above sample is a very simple case. Sometimes, for instance in power failure case, there is
many PSV will open at the same time. The back pressure for each PSV shall be checked to ensure
each PSV can properly operated. The back pressure profile of each PSV can be used to determine
the configuration of the flare system
My friend, thats all, I can share to you. Hopefully, this topic reminds us that the back pressure is
something very important to be considered both in PSV and flare system design
Thank you for your attention.

PSV Installation-Guide

My friend, Let me share a simple material about PSV installation. However it will only focus on
designing the system. This is become my first posting in this year. Hopefully, this material is useful
for you in developing the system around PSV.
My friends, in developing or reviewing the P&ID, especially in PSV system, please consider the
following ;
1. PSV normally be installed close to protected equipment.
The safety valve is installed for protecting the equipment, so that the closer to the equipment is
better. For example, from safety point of view, to install the PSV directly at vessel is better than at
line outlet vapor.
2. PSV for vapor application at vessel -shall be connected to the vessel in the vapor space higher
than HHLL.
3. If any demister, PSV shall be connected to the vessel at below the demister since there
is any potential blockage of demister, and if the PSV be installed at downstream demister, it will
not protect the vessel in that case.

4. PSV may be installed at outlet vapor line. For this case, take care with the 3% pressure drop
limitation.

5. For inlet line, please consider the total pressure drop of inlet line less than 3% of set pressure of
the PSV.
This requirement (3%) is to avoid chattering on PSV.

6. Inlet PSV shall "free draining" to avoid liquid accumulation.


Please consider put NOTE on the P&ID, and as process engineer, you should check the final design
by Piping engineer.

7. Block valve at inlet line ( if any) shall be LO and LC for spare PSV.
Block valve at outlet line (if any ) shall be LO

8. if discharged to ATM ( please indicate on P&ID "ASL" (at safe location) instead of ATM). The block
valve is not required. The weep hole to be provided at lowest point of discharge pipe to
drain the liquid.

9. Outlet line to be designed with Mach No < 0.7


Check the momentum ( Rho v2 ) if the value of (Rho v2) > 200.000 Pa..please take care since it
may be vibration. Usually Piping engineer will also check the requirement of piping support.
Back pressure to be considered based on PSV type.
Noise for emergency case typically more than 85 dB is still accepted.
Check the two phase flow pattern, if there is any slug flow - please take care, you must state in the
P&ID so that Piping Engineer will consider the strengthening of support.

10. Outlet line shall only have downward elevation change to the flare sub-header.

11. Consider minimum distance from by pass block valve to discharge line for heavy
hydrocarbon service.

12. Lateral connection to be designed with 45 deg or 30 deg to the header.

13 Please consider, Other system may have specific requirement. Think about it by yourself.

I think that all, that I can share to you by today.

My friend, how are you today? Its been long time I dont update my blog, really sorry guys. I was
very busy doing my project urea plant in Palembang. Thank you very much for many of you
who've contacted me via email and give me feedback and much-much spirit for me to keep
updating this blog again

Block Outlet Case

My friend, regarding the overpressure protection system design, one of important responsibility for
process engineer is determining the cause of overpressure. In this posting, we will discuss whether
a kind of case is possible occurred.
There are many causes of overpressure. Every possible overpressure condition shall be reviewed to
ensure overpressure protection device capacity is adequate to protect the system. The following
picture presents the causes of overpressure.

My friend, let discuss how block outlet is applicable to be considered.


(other cases in next posting.)
BLOCKED OUTLET
For review whether this case applicable or not, check : is there any valve that possible closed? Or
any control valves which is fail to close position? is there any object that possible block the fluid
flow ? If YES, it may be blocked and lead to pressure increase.
The required load capacity of PSV can be determined based on the mass balance in the system
after block outlet occurred.
Here is just simple case.

For system which comprises of many vessel / separator with same design pressure, block outlet
case is only considered for PSV in the most upstream location. When block outlet occurred at
downstream the system pressure increase lead to open PSV at the upstream.
I think, it is better to explain by this picture

Therefore, for system with same design pressure, the block outlet only applicable for one PSV only.
My friend, thats all, I can share to you today. Hopefully, this simple article useful for you.

Reflux Failure Case

Reflux failure case is the major case of all tower or column. Reflux failure can be caused by the
following:
- Power failure lead to reflux pump off
- Pump failure
- Control valve failure ( fail closed or stuck closed)
- Operator error etc
When reflux pump fail, there no reflux flow inlet to column. Basically the reflux flow is flown back to
column (at rectifying section) to increase separation efficiency. Other that, the reflux flow is useful
also for cooling the vapor flow to the top of the column. Reflux pump failure cause Loss of Cooling,
as a consequence, the vapor temperature will not be cooled down and overpressure will occur.
Control valve failure has same effect as a pump failure.
Power failure case cause trip of the air cooler, cooling failure and overpressure will occur.

Based on my experience, the simplification of the calculation load capacity for reflux failure has
been made. 2ndtray vapor flow is assumed as basis load capacity. In HYSYS, the column model

never convergent if the reflux flow = 0, therefore in HYSYS simulation, input reflux flow with very
small number. After column model convergent, we can use 2nd tray vapor flow as load capacity of
the PSV.
Actually, the determining load capacity of reflux failure is very complex. Let imagine, once the
pressure increase in the column, the boiling point of fluid in the reboiler increase, the number of
vapor will decrease. It has many effects to separation and equilibrium condition.
I have found much discussion regarding reflux failure case, especially the method for determining
load capacity. Unfortunately, until now, there is no agreement reached, no method fixed, therefore I
cant make a justification which one is the best approach for calculating load capacity for reflux
failure.
Please follow the following link for more discussion about reflux failure
1.Discussion 1 from Cheresources
2.Discussion 2 from Cheresources
3.A sample dynamic method for determining load capacity reflux failure
My friend, please share to me if you have other method for calculating load capacity for reflux
failure case
Thank for reading, hopefully this posting useful for you

Tube Rupture Case

Tube rupture may be occurred for shell and tube heat exchanger type. Based on my experience,
some design philosophy using 2/3 rule, and some other using 10/13 rule for the criteria of
requirement PSV for tube rupture. Which one is correct? Should we apply 2/3 or 10/13 rule?
Tube rupture is possible cause overpressure in shell and tube heat exchanger type if Test Pressure
of Low Pressure Side LESS than design pressure of High Pressure Side. That is where 2/3 and 10/13
rule coming from. For equipment with test pressure = 1, 5 x design pressure, the 2/3 (=10/15) rule
is applied, whereas for test pressure = 1, 3 x design pressure, the 10/13 rule is applied

When tube ruptures, fluid will flow from high pressure side to low pressure side. Check whether
increasing pressure at low pressure side due to tube rupture possible exceeds the corrected test
pressure or not. If YES, the tube rupture case applicable to be considered
My friend, do you know, why API STD 521 use term corrected test pressure to evaluate the
possibility of overpressure due to tube rupture? hydrotest pressure is conducted at ambient
temperature, therefore the correction is required because tube rupture is not occurred at ambient
temperature.
The corrected test pressure can be calculated with this following formula.

Allowance stress at ambient temperature > allowance stress at elevated temperature, therefore
from above formula, corrected hydrotest pressure > uncorrected hydrotest pressure. In other
word, we can use uncorrected hydrotest pressure for checking whether tube rupture is applicable to
be considered or not. This understanding is very useful, especially when we dont have the data of
allowance stress.
Hopefully this picture gives a simple explanation.

Thank for reading, hopefully this posting useful for you

Blowdown PSV

I can't sleep again, till this midnight , almost 00.00 PM (or AM ? ), I just confuse what to do. I think it
will better for me to do something useful. But what ? I don't get any idea. Until finally, I remember
this blog.
My blog save my brain :D.
Usually, when I don't know what to do, the most often I decide is check my facebook, just want to
know my friend's status.

Oh My God,,why I share my feeling to you.,I should share my knowledge instead of my feeling, right
? I am so sorry.
My friend,there are many terminology related to PSV. I give you a summary as following picture.

Please comment to this posting for only item which you don't understand :D,
I will answer your question later.
ho,, ho,, sorry for this disappointed posting,,hopefully you understand me, I am afraid will make
many mistakes explanation in this midnight.
Okay,,I give one item only. I will explain you about BLOWDOWN.
Blowdown is differential pressure (can be in percentage) between set pressure and re-seat
pressure. PSV start to open at set pressure and will 100% back closed at re-seat
pressure. What do you think, why the re seat pressure lower than set pressure ? and What impact
blowdown value to PSV's operation ?
See the picture below

And this picture below will show why the re seat pressure is lower than set pressure.

uhhh..sorry my friend,. This article is considered complete although there is still many question
about blowdown which may be raised up. How blowdown can be adjusted to ovoid chattering. What
the relation between blowdown and 3% pressure drop limitation at inlet pipe. How about blowdown
for Pilot type PSV..etc and may be you have several other question also.
But Sorry my friend, I will sleep,,,let continue in other opportunity...
don't forget to pray each other my friend, pray before we sleep
Thank you -Domo arigatogozaimasu-

Gas Blowby Case

Gas Blowby is the discharge of gas from a process component through a liquid outlet. It can be
caused;
- Failure of a liquid level control system.
- Or in advertent opening of the control valve by pass.

One of the effects of gas blow by can be overpressure in a downstream component. Of course, the
low level is the detectable condition that indicates gas blowby may be occurred.
This picture below show gas blowby case

For instance in a separator system, to determine whether this case applicable or not, check design
pressure of the equipment in downstream control valve. If the design pressure is equal, the gas
blowby will not cause overpressure in the downstream equipment. Conversely, If the design
pressure of the downstream equipment is lower than the upstream equipment, when control valve
fail, the gas will flow to the downstream equipment and cause overpressure.
Please note, gas blowby case is applicable if only the design pressure of downstream equipment
lower than the upsteam pressure.
The required load capacity of PSV can be determined based on the mass balance in the system
after control valve fail is occurred.
Here is just simple case.

The most often questions which is raised by new process engineer in calculation load capacity gas
blowby is the formula for determining the maximum flow through the control valve
The maximum flow through control valve is depends on the control valve Cv and the pressure drop
across the control valve. The following picture show an example formula from one of control valve
Vendor; please note, each Vendor has their own formula that might different in each other. I give
this formula to show you what the variable that has affect to flowrate through the control valve

My friend, for detail calculation in project stage, I suggest you to use INSTRUCAL software for
determining the maximum flow through the control valve.
After the maximum flow through control valve is calculated, the required capacity of PSV at
downstream equipment can be calculated (for simple, Load = Maximum flow stream 3 Normal
flow stream 4)

Thank you for reading my friend, thats all I can share to you today. Correct me if I am wrong
" Selamat liburan panjang :D , semoga ada pencerahan hidup yg bermanfaat yang kita dapatkan... (
don't know how to express this in english :D) "

PSV Sizing

Sizing of pressure relief valve is clearly explained in API STD 520 part 1. Some formula is provided
for calculation the orifice size either for vapor or liquid application, critical or non critical condition.
My friend, there is no difficult thing in sizing PSV as long as all data required is already provided.
The all we need is just inputting the data in the formula or in the spreadsheet :D , then select the
appropriate standard orifice size ( refer to API STD 526)
The following pictures, show the formula in API STD 520

For non critical condition, the outlet pressure has impact in sizing orifice area but for critical
condition is not. In critical condition, the outlet pressure is lower than the critical flow pressure
therefore there will be no impact to the sizing.
Note this, in critical condition, the flow through the nozzle will be influenced by the inlet pressure
(relieving pressure). In non critical condition, the flow will depend on the differential pressure
between inlet and outlet. (Relieving pressure back pressure).
Use correct formula !
For you who looking for the sizing example, click the following link.
1. Gas/Vapor Critical and an example from Leser
2. Gas Subcritical and an example from Leser
3. Steam and an example from Leser
4. Liquid, an example from Leser
Thank you for your attention.
http://process-eng.blogspot.com/2014/10/sthe-b-c-stream.html