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Where Valves Are Used: Everywhere!

Where Valves Are Used: Everywhere!

Valves can be found just about anywhere ...

Oxygen Cleaning: A Validated Process is Critical for Safety

Oxygen Cleaning: A Validated Process is Critical for Safety

From time to time, we re-publish well-re...

Inspiration and Automation: Keys to Best-in-Class Operations

Inspiration and Automation: Keys to Best-in-Class Operations

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Industry Headlines

Emerson Opens Solutions Center in Singapore

Friday, 17 November 2017  |  Chris Guy

As part of its drive to make Singapore a hub for the delivery of Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and services for customers across As...

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Industry Headlines

Emerson Opens Solutions Center in Singapore

2 DAYS AGO

As part of its drive to make Singapore a hub for the delivery of Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and services for customers across Asia Pacific, Emerson opened a customer-focused Solutions Center at the regional headquarters of its Automation Solutions business in Singapore. To mark...

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Emerson Proposes to Acquire Rockwell Automation

3 DAYS AGO

Emerson chairman and CEO David N. Farr has sent a letter to Rockwell Automation president and CEO Blake D. Moret proposing to acquire all outstanding shares of Rockwell for $225 per share, consisting of $135 per share in cash and $90 per share in Emerson shares. The total enterprise value of the tra...

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Energy Outlook Shows a World in Transformation

5 DAYS AGO

The resurgence in oil and gas production from the United States, deep declines in the cost of renewables and growing electrification are changing the face of the global energy system and upending traditional ways of meeting energy demand, according to the World Energy Outlook 2017 . A cleaner and more...

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U.S. Shale Output Expected to Rise Again in December

5 DAYS AGO

“U.S. shale production for December is expected to rise for a 12th consecutive month,” according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), “as oil prices remain near their mid-2015 highs.”

Reuters reports that “projected gas output would increase in each of the major...

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U.S. Industrial Output Up 0.9% in October

2 DAYS AGO

Industrial production rose 0.9% in October, and manufacturing increased 1.3%. The index for utilities rose 2.0%, but mining output fell 1.3%, as Hurricane Nate caused a sharp but short-lived decline in oil and gas drilling and extraction. Even so, industrial activity was boosted in October by a return...

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Empire State Manufacturing Survey Shows Continued Growth

3 DAYS AGO

Business activity continued to grow strongly in New York State, according to firms responding to the November 2017 Empire State Manufacturing Survey. Though the headline general business conditions index fell eleven points from the multiyear high it reached last month, it remained firmly in positive ...

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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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