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Valves in a Cement Slurry Line

Valves in a Cement Slurry Line

Basically everywhere you look in modern ...

Triple Offset Butterfly Valves

Triple Offset Butterfly Valves

Since their introduction to the market m...

Digital Valve Control Leads to Increased Plant Availability

Digital Valve Control Leads to Increased Plant Availability

Surge is characterized by fast flow reve...

Cast vs. Forged: The Ongoing Debate Takes a New Direction

Cast vs. Forged: The Ongoing Debate Takes a New Direction

In the valve industry, the cast versus f...

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Industry Headlines

Fitch: Energy Recovery Should Boost Chemical Companies

Monday, 05 December 2016  |  Chris Guy

Modest reflation in the energy sector should filter through to higher prices for petrochemicals, plastics and other chemicals with energy-related feed...

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Industry Headlines

VMA Members Among Plant Engineering 2016 Product of the Year Finalists

4 DAYS AGO

Several VMA members are among this year’s Plant Engineering Product of the Year finalists. Emerson has products nominated in four different categories, while Siemens has several products nominated in a total of three different categories. Chesterton and Hunt Valve have products up for awards the...

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MSS Publishes Revised American National Standard for Steel Pipeline Flanges and Receives ANSI Approval

4 DAYS AGO

The Manufacturers Standardization Society (MSS) announces that the substantially revised Standard Practice, SP-44-2016, Steel Pipeline Flanges, has been approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as a Revised American National Standard (ANS).

The first edition of MSS SP-44 was publish...

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Fitch: Energy Recovery Should Boost Chemical Companies

-1 DAYS AGO

Modest reflation in the energy sector should filter through to higher prices for petrochemicals, plastics and other chemicals with energy-related feedstocks, resulting in higher sales, earnings and cash flow, according to Fitch Ratings . Market conditions support stable operating profiles for North Am...

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BP Approves $9 Billion Project in Deepwater Gulf of Mexico

2 HOURS AGO

BP has sanctioned the Mad Dog Phase 2 project in the U.S., despite the current low oil price environment. Mad Dog Phase 2 will include a new floating production platform with the capacity to produce up to 140,000 gross barrels of crude oil per day from up to 14 production wells. The $9 billion projec...

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ISM: U.S. Manufacturing Expands at Best Pace in Five Months

2 HOURS AGO

Manufacturing expanded in November as the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) registered 53.2%, an increase of 1.3% from the October reading of 51.9%, indicating growth in manufacturing for the third consecutive month. A reading above 50% indicates that the ma...

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U.S. Adds 178,000 Jobs, Unemployment Rate at 4.6%

3 DAYS AGO

The unemployment rate declined 0.3% to 4.6% in November, and total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 178,000, the Department of Labor reported today. Employment gains occurred in professional and business services and in health care.

Employment in construction continued on its recent upward trend...

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Common Bellows Failures and Suggestions for Mitigation

vmwnt12_MR_Fig1Figure 1. Galling on the stem due to an oversized valve or operating the PRV too close to set pressure.

While it is an extremely rare event, bellows can and do fail. But bellows failures are often wrongly attributed to the quality of the valve or the bellows while in reality, a more likely scenario is operating conditions or an improperly specified valve that contributed to the failure. Still, whenever a failure occurs, analysis of what happened and why is critical.


THE USE OF BELLOWS

A spring-loaded pressure relief valve (PRV) is a device that reacts based on the amount of static pressure force pushing up on the disc. In normal processing conditions, the valve will remain shut because the upward force on the disc is less than the closing spring force. When the force from the process fluid pushing up and the force of the spring pushing down are at equilibrium, the disc of the valve will begin to lift from the nozzle, and the valve will begin to “simmer.” At this point, a slight increase in process pressure will cause that valve to “pop” open (its set point), thereby relieving the overpressure.

vmwnt12_MR_Fig2Figure 2. Bellows rupture likely because of excessive backpressure.A bellows is typically specified for applications when a spring-loaded PRV will experience backpressure (which can impact the valve’s ability to open at the correct set pressure) or when the internal components of the valve must be isolated from the processing fluid. When selecting the bellows material, consideration of the process material discharging into a common header must be made.

While it is possible for a bellows to fail because of an imperfection in fabrication, failure more commonly can be attributed to the wrong valves being used or operating conditions. Quality control during PRV assembly can prevent a customer from experiencing this type of failure.

Listed below are four scenarios that are common reasons a bellows might fail. Each assumes that a thorough review of the engineering sizing and specifications for a given PRV has been completed since these calculations will aid in diagnosing the problem.


EXCESSIVE BACKPRESSURE

One clue that indicates a valve has been exposed to excessive backpressure is when the bellows has been crushed. There are two types of backpressure in process systems: constant and variable. Variable can be further divided into two subgroups: superimposed and built-up.

Built-up backpressure is defined as the pressure at the outlet of the PRV based on the discharge piping configuration, i.e., pressure that occurs only after the valve has opened. For applications where the flow is compressible, built-up backpressure is based on the piping hydraulics at the accumulation pressure using the maximum actual capacity for the PRV. All too often engineers perform this calculation at the required capacity for the given scenario, not at the device’s actual capacity.

When a bellows failure can be attributed to excessive built-up backpressure, the following options will ­mitigate the problem:

  • Use a bellows with a higher pressure limit.
  • Use a pilot valve balanced against backpressure.
  • Modify the outlet piping by ­making it larger or shortening the length of pipe, thereby ­reducing the effects of built-up backpressure.


OVERSIZED VALVE

While most PRVs are protecting equipment for more than one relief event, the size of the valve is based on the scenario requiring the greatest relieving capacity. An example would be when a PRV is sized for both fire and blocked outlet scenarios. The fire sizing requires significantly greater orifice area than the blocked outlet sizing. However, since the blocked outlet scenario is more common and more likely to occur, then the PRV will be potentially starved for capacity, causing the valve to “chatter” (rapidly opening and closing). Valve chatter, as well as flow instability, could inevitably cause valve damage such as premature fatigue failure of the bellows, as well as galling of guiding surfaces. In our experience, a PRV should not be specified that has an actual orifice area more than 3 to 5 times larger than the required area.

Mitigation strategies for failure in this scenario include:

  • Install multiple PRVs and stagger the set pressure for each of the scenarios. Ensure the small valve is properly sized based on the lowest required capacity relief scenario.
  • Install a modulating pilot-operated relief valve.

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