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Industry Headlines

Energy Sector Construction Employment Expected to Rise

Monday, 23 January 2017  |  Chris Guy

The Department of Energy released the agency’s second annual analysis, the U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER). The report found several e...

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Industry Headlines

Eastern Controls to Distribute ITT & PBM Valves

2 DAYS AGO

Eastern Controls, Inc. (ECI) is now an ITT & PBM factory authorized distributor for New York and northern New Jersey. ECI is the distributor for a variety of sanitary process valves and instrumentation which serve the life sciences industry.

ECI has been awarded factory authorization to sell both I...

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Cameron Signs Two Long-Term Transocean Service Agreements

3 DAYS AGO

Cameron, a Schlumberger company, has signed two 10-year pressure control equipment management service contracts on behalf of Transocean valued at greater than $350 million.

The first contract calls for Schlumberger to manage Transocean’s Cameron risers in the Gulf of Mexico. This comprehensive ag...

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Energy Sector Construction Employment Expected to Rise

-1 DAYS AGO

The Department of Energy released the agency’s second annual analysis, the U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER). The report found several energy industries with projected increases in new jobs. Responding to the USEER survey of employers, the energy efficiency sector predicted hiring rates ...

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U.S. Energy Companies Add Most Oil Rigs in Four Years

-1 DAYS AGO

According to Baker Hughes, U.S. energy companies “added the most oil rigs in nearly four years” this week, as OPEC’s production cut “boosted prices over $50 a barrel since early December.” A total of 29 rigs were added, “bringing the total count up to 551,” R...

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Philly Fed: Mid-Atlantic Business Activity Hits Two-Year High

2 DAYS AGO

Economic conditions continued to improve in January, according to the Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey. The index for current manufacturing activity in the region increased from a revised reading of 19.7 in December to 23.6 this month. Approximately 40% of t...

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Industrial Production Sees Largest Rise in More Than Two Years

5 DAYS AGO

Industrial production rose 0.8% in December, the largest increase since November 2014, after falling 0.7% the previous month. For the fourth quarter as a whole, the index slipped 0.6% at an annual rate.

Manufacturing output moved up 0.2% in December, as an increase in durable manufacturing outweighed d...

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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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