The majority of oil and refined-product pipelines in Brazil have their protection system designs based on spring-type pressure relief valves. Thus, the proper design and operation of these valves is essential to ensure the safety of transport pipelines and loading/unloading terminals during any abnormal operation conditions that generate a surge pressure. In simple terms, these valves have a disk which is pressed by a spring against the inlet nozzle of the valve. When the pressure rises, the force generated on the surface of the disc increases and, depending on the pressure relief valve set point, the force due to pressure overcomes the force exerted by the spring, causing the disk to rise and discharge the fluid through the outlet nozzle to the relief line, reducing the pressure level within the pipeline. Despite its importance, most commercial applications do not present a specific model to simulate the transient behavior of pressure relief valves. This paper presents an experimental study aimed at determining the dynamic behavior of a commercial spring-type relief valve. The valve was installed in a pipe loop instrumented with pressure and flow transducers. The transient motion of the valve disc was measured with a fast-response displacement transducer. The transient in the flow loop was generated by the controlled closing of a block valve positioned downstream of the relief valve. The recorded transient data for disc position, upstream and downstream pressures, and discharge flow rates were used to compute the discharge coefficient as a function of opening fraction and the opening fraction as a function of time. Simulation models based on a spring-mass damped system were developed and implemented in a PID-actuator-control valve system. The systems were implemented in a commercial pipeline simulation program modeling the experimental loop employed in the tests. The numerical and experimental data of the block valve closure transient were compared displaying good agreement. Simulations results employing a generic relief valve model frequently used in simulations were also obtained revealing problems associated with this approach.

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