Risk-based inspection methods enable estimation of the probability of failure on demand (PFD) for spring-operated pressure relief valves at the United States Department of Energy's Savannah River Site in Aiken, South Carolina. This paper presents a statistical performance evaluation of soft seat elastomer spring operated pressure relief valves. These pressure relief valves are typically smaller and of lower cost than hard seat (metal to metal) pressure relief valves. They can provide substantial cost savings in certain fluid service applications providing that PFD is at least as good as that for hard seat valves. PFD is the probability that a pressure relief valve fails to perform its intended safety function during a potentially dangerous over pressurization. The research in this paper shows that the proportion of soft seat spring operated pressure relief valves failing is the same or less than that of hard seat valves, and that for failed valves, soft seat valves typically have failure ratios of proof test pressure to set pressure much less than that of hard seat valves.

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