Pressure relief valves in water pipes are known to sometimes chatter when the inlet pressure slightly exceeds the maximum allowable working pressure (MAWP) value. Though these devices are responsible for numerous fatigue issues in process industries, there is a relatively low number of technical publications describing well-established facts about them, especially for heavy fluids. The present study is intended as a contribution to the understanding of pressure relief valve dynamics, taking into account fluid-structure interactions. A series of tests was performed with a water relief valve upon a test rig. Adjusting the MAWP of the valve to about 30 bars, an upstream pressure varying from 20 to 35 bars was imposed, so that the valve opened and the water flow varied from a few m3/h to about 80 m3/h. During the tests, the pipe was equipped upstream and downstream of the valve with static pressure sensors and a flowmeter, the disc lift was measured with a laser displacement sensor, and the spring force was recorded simultaneously. Several fluctuating pressure sensors were also arranged in the inlet pipe. Static instability is investigated by comparing the spring force to the hydraulic force. Dynamic instability is observed and it is shown that the resonant behavior of the disc generates an apparent negative pressure drop coefficient at some frequencies. This negative pressure drop coefficient can trigger a dynamic instability in a manner similar to the negative damping effect in leakage-flow vibrations.

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