Research Papers: Gas Turbines: Oil and Gas Applications

Testing and Modeling of an Acoustic Instability in Pilot-Operated Pressure Relief Valves

[+] Author and Article Information
Timothy C. Allison

Mechanical Engineering Division,
Southwest Research Institute,
San Antonio, TX 78238
e-mail: tim.allison@swri.org

Klaus Brun

Mechanical Engineering Division,
Southwest Research Institute,
San Antonio, TX 78238
e-mail: klaus.brun@swri.org

Contributed by the Oil and Gas Applications Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF ENGINEERING FOR GAS TURBINES AND POWER. Manuscript received July 13, 2015; final manuscript received September 8, 2015; published online November 3, 2015. Editor: David Wisler.

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power 138(5), 052401 (Nov 03, 2015) (6 pages) Paper No: GTP-15-1279; doi: 10.1115/1.4031623 History: Received July 13, 2015; Revised September 08, 2015

Pressure relief valves (PRVs) are included as an essential element of many compressor piping systems in order to prevent overpressurization and also to minimize the loss of process gas during relief events. Failure of the valve to operate properly can result in excessive quantities of vented gas and/or catastrophic failure of the piping system. Several mechanisms for chatter and instability have been previously identified for spring-loaded relief valves, but pilot-operated relief valves are widely considered to be stable. In this paper, pilot-operated PRVs are shown to be susceptible to a dynamic instability under certain conditions where valve dynamics couple with upstream piping acoustics. This self-exciting instability can cause severe oscillations of the valve piston, damaging the valve seat, preventing resealing, and possibly causing damage to attached piping. Two case studies are presented, which show damaging unstable oscillations in a field installation and a blowdown rig, and a methodology is presented for modeling the instability by coupling a valve dynamic model with a 1D transient fluid dynamics simulation code. Modeling results are compared with measured stable and unstable operation in a blowdown rig to show that the modeling approach accurately predicts the observed behaviors.

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Fig. 1

Pilot-operated PRV schematic [1]

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Fig. 2

Stop bolt damage from PRV failure

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Fig. 3

Blowdown test rig layout

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Fig. 4

Test rig riser acoustic mode at 74.6 Hz

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Fig. 5

Piston position and pressures at instability onset

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Fig. 6

Piston position spectrogram during instability

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Fig. 7

Riser top pressure spectrogram during instability

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Fig. 8

Dome force versus lift

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Fig. 9

Normalized effective force area versus lift

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Fig. 10

Measured inlet force versus lift

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Fig. 11

Inputs list and analysis flow for fluid–structure interaction analysis

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Fig. 12

Simulated piston position and inlet pressure at instability onset

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Fig. 13

Frequency spectra of simulated piston position and inlet pressure



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