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Overpressure is the result of disruption of material and energy flows that result in the build up of either

the material or energy or both in some part of the system. PRDs are installed to ensure that a process
system or its component is not subjected to pressures that exceed maximum allowable accumulated

Double or multiple jeopardy - the simultaneous occurrence of two or more unrelated causes of
overpressure is not a basis for design; API 521 describes single jeopardy scenarios as a basis of design

The liquid or vapor rates used to establish relief rate are developed by the net energy input – heat
(vaporization or thermal expansion) and direct pressure input

Pressure and temperature should be considered as they affect the volumetric and compositional
behavior of liquids and vapors.

Blocked Outlet

relief load determined at relieving

Inadvertent closure of a valve on the discharge of a
instead of normal operating
pressure equipment when the equipment is on
conditions. Frictional drop in
stream and such closure results in pressure in excess
Blocked Outlet pipelines between source of
of the design or MAWP. In general, omission of block
overpressure and system being
valves in between vessels in a series or elimination of
protected should also be
block valves can reduce the number of PRDs.
Centrifugal pumps: prd not required if pump, piping
and equipment downstream can withstand maximum flow capacity of the
maximum shut-off pressure or other pressure devices feeding the system
sources such as a start-up or warm-up line. determines load
Positive displacement pump – needs PRD to protect
the pump and downstream equipment against shut-

Compressors – blocked discharge or loss of inter-

stage cooling or loss of a downstream compression
stage- size the relief valve for rated flow
rate of compressor only
heat exchangers ????

Fractionation Tower (Vapors from 2nd tray from top of tower)

relief rate based on heat and mass

Reflux failure (pump shut down or valve balances at relieving conditions;
closure) causes condenser flooding difficult to perform these calculations,
Fractionation (=coolant failure) or loss of coolant in tower: so simplified heuristics: vapors from
Tower 2nd tray from top
Total condensing incoming vapor rate to the condenser
Partial condensing incoming – outgoing vapor rate

Evaluate if Source pressure of liquid feed > design pressure of the equipment or PRD set pressure

Automatic Controls

Gas blowby = loss of liquid level followed by high pressure vapor flow; it is the discharge of gas from a
process equipment through a liquid outlet; occurs due to failure of liquid level control system or an
inadvertent opening of cv bypass; can lead to overpressure in downstream equipment. Relief rate = full
vapor flow through the liquid cv

Inlet control devices and bypass

One inlet is in fully open position regardless of CV failure position; relief rate = maximum
expected inlet flow – normal outlet flow from valves that are open

If manual bypass on inlet cv is partially open, total flow = flow through cv wide open and the

Outlet control devices

One of the control valves at fail close on outlet, relief rate = maximum expected inlet flow –
maximum outlet flow through remaining outlets

Abnormal heat input

Reboilers, other process heating equipment: abnormal heat input may cause vapor generation >
condensation; relief rate = max vapor inflow – condensation or vapor outflow

Inadvertent valve opening

Relief load depends on the maximum operating pressure upstream of the valve and the downstream
equipment pressure at relieving conditions

Check valve failure

When a spare pump is brought online, if check valve has leakage, spare pump may see discharge
pressure of the operating pump and lead to overpressure situation

Reverse flow through check valves in series is a scenario when the maximum operating pressure of the
high-pressure system is greater than the corrected hydrotest pressure of the low pressure equipment

Transient Pressure Surges – Water hammer or hydraulic shock waves/steam hammer/ condensate
hammer – due to rapid closure of valves – cannot be controlled by typical PRD – avoid the use of quick
closing valves

Chemical Reactions
Cryogenic fluids and loss of process control – reduction in pressure lowers temperature to minimum
allowable design temperature of the equipment = low-temperature brittle failure

Exothermic reactions – runaway reaction causes pressure above MAWP – DIERS Methodology for relief
rate – if PRDs are infeasible, use reaction inhibitors, depressuring, quench, automatic shutdown

Hydraulic Expansion – increase in liquid volume due to increase in temperature

Equipment or piping – liquid-filled, blocked and heated up by solar radiation or heat tracing

Exchanger – blocked in on the cold side with flow on the hot side; hydraulic expansion relief device on
cold side

Phase change – If the blocked-in liquid has vapor pressure higher than the relief design pressure, the
PRD should be capable of handling the vapor generated

Required relief rate is small; relief valve with nominal diameter DN (20) x DN (25) or NPS (3/4”) X NPS
(1”) specified


Overpressure due to vapor formation or fluid expansion

Pool fire (confined or open) – ignited liquid spill; open pool fire – design basis for fire case

Jet fire – ignited pressurized leak; occurs when any flammable fluid under pressure is released to
atmosphere; PRDs ineffective; focus on prevention of leaks

Vapor formation – consider portion of vessel wetted by internal liquid up to a height of 25 ft or 7.6 m
above the base of a pool fire – any level at which a substantial spill or pool fire could be sustained;
usually ground level; for a sphere, wetted area is higher of the maximum horizontal diameter and 25 ft;
column – normal level in the bottom plus liquid holdup from trays upto 25 ft (if reboiler part of column,
add reboiler level)

For vessels with liquids: Q = 21,000 FA^0.82; F – environment factor = 1 for bare vessel’ A^ 0.82 – area
exposure factor/ratio; if no adequate drainage or firefighting, Q = 34500 FA^0.82; at subcritical
conditions, relief rate = rate of vapor formation = Q/heat of vaporization; Orifice Area – calculate and
select from D to T; rated capacity = relief rate * (selected/calculated orifice area); near the critical point,
latent heat of vaporization approaches zero and sensible heat takes over and so 50 BTU/lb taken as
approximation; above critical point, no phase change occurs and relief depends on the expansion of the
liquid due to heat input

Vessels with gas/vapor/supercritical fluids: Effective discharge area formula – page 52

Tube failure
Power failure