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Bursting disks for shell and tube heat exchanger overpressure protection: joint industry project (JIP)

www.energyinst.org/sthe  

EI project manages a process engineering joint industry project (JIP) 'Bursting Disks for Shell & Tube Heat Exchanger Overpressure Protection (STHE)'. The main technical development aspects of the JIP are concluding with publication of the 2nd edition of 'Guidelines for the safe design and operation of shell and tube heat exchangers to withstand the impact of tube failure' (November 2015). However, the JIP Steering Group remains active and has commissioned a further research package to address an area of risk uncertainty that is not fully addressed in the 2nd edition Guidelines.

Large ‘P’ size conventional relief valve to be tested for its response time using a shock tube
Large 'P' size conventional relief valve

Introduction

The process industries commonly use STHEs to heat or cool high pressure (HP) gas. The liquid filled low pressure (LP) side tends to be at risk of overpressure in the event of any leakage from the HP side of the exchanger, with a risk of catastrophic failure of the shell or piping if not adequately protected.

Previous research determined that rupture discs best met the requirement for fast relief to protect the LP side from overpressure in the event of a sudden tube failure; therefore, these devices have been used extenstively since publication of the 1st edition of Guidelines for the design and safe operation of shell and tube heat exchangers to withstand the impact of tube failure (2000). However, using rupture discs has introduced several disadvantages that have featured in an increasing number of incidents, including reverse rupture disc failure, and impaired safety critical relief systems. This, and a continuing lack of reported incidents of tube failures, prompted re-evaluation of whether the adoption of rupture discs had inadvertently shifted the balance of risk. Consequently, a second EI managed JIP was set-up with the ultimate aim of improving the inherent safety of STHEs by providing guidance for protecting STHEs from overpressure. 

Experimental testing of response of conventional relief valves: water filled ~300 mm diameter shock tube end with valve mounted

Deliverables

Overview of 2nd edition of 'Guidelines for the safe design and operation of shell and tube heat exchangers to withstand the impact of tube failure'

The 2nd edition of the Guidelines have strengthened and additional technical content, including:

  • experimental studies of conventional pressure relief valve and pin valve response;
  • modelling the effect of STHE design parameters on low pressure-side overpressures, including sensitivity analysis;
  • other input studies e.g. HAZID/HAZOP workshop, incident analyses, incident and operator data;
  • design approach for new and existing installations;
  • assessing vulnerability to STHE tube vibration;
    Pin valve
    Pin valve after testing on shock tube (pin ruptured)
  • relief device types; selection, set pressure, initial step in pressure calculation, and positioning options;
  • dynamic simulation software requirements, typical values and confidence;
  • broader interface of STHE with relief system;
  • impact on piping, flanges, piping anchors & guides of overpressures, and slug loads, and
  • selecting instrumentation to detect tube failure and relief device activation.

Work in progress

Currently, there is work in progress on work package HE4 'Mechanical impact of dynamic transient overpressures on STHE shells' - Stage 1 Literature and industry review. This is using residual JIP funding to undertake a literature and industry review to establish the full extent and maturity of knowledge, methods and practice for evaluating mechanical impact of dynamic transient overpressures on STHE shells, including transferable knowledge from mechanical impact of dynamic transient overpressures on other pressure vessels.

The deliverable will be reported to JIP Steering Committee members only.

Subsequent phases may follow, possibly using a call for funds for a follow-on JIP.

Communication activities

 A joint EI, IChemE Special Interest Group on Oil and Natural Gas (SONG) and Heat Transfer Society (HTS) seminar launched the 2nd edition Guidelines (London, May 2016). Members of the JIP Steering Committee delivered the presentations and set out the key changes between the 1st and 2nd edition Guidelines.

The work also has been presented at:

  • API Subcommittee on Pressure-Relieving Systems (SCPRS)/ Subcommittee on Heat Transfer Equipment (SCHTE), 17 November 2015 (Long Beach, California).
  • API Subcommittee on Pressure-Relieving Systems (SCPRS), 16-18th May 2011 (Seattle).
  • IChemE Workshop on Relieving Systems, 23rd June 2011 (Aberdeen).
  • ABB Pressure Relief Conference, 29th June 2011 (Edinburgh).
  • EI Meeting 11.01 (2nd Meeting) of stakeholders to scope a proposed joint industry project (JIP) on bursting disks for shell & tube heat exchanger (STHE) overpressure protection, 19th July 2011 (London).
  • EI Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee, July 2012 (London).
  • API Subcommittee on Pressure-Relieving Systems (SCPRS), 12-14th November 2012 (Los Angeles).
  • UK Heat Transfer Society (HTS), 5th December 2012 (London).
  • IChemE Oil & Natural Gas Special Interest Group (SONG), 12th December 2012 (London).
  • ABB Pressure Relief Conference, 2013 (Manchester).
  • IChemE Hazards 24 Conference,  7-9 May 2012 (Edinburgh).
    (See paper 'A study of safety valve response times under transient over pressures' Ewan B.C.R., Weil C. and Scanlon M).
  • ABB Pressure Relief Conference, 25 June 2014.
  • ABB Pressure Relief Conference, June 2015 (Manchester).
  • IChemE Oil & Natural Gas Special Interest Group (SONG)/ Heat Transfer Society (HTS), April 2015 (London).
  • IChemE Hazards AP Conference (see paper 'Pressure safety valves for heat exchanger tube rupture high pressure protection' Addicott G, Ewan B C R, Weil C and Scanlon M), April 2015 (Kuala Lumpur)
  • API Subcommittee on Pressure-Relieving Systems (SCPRS)/Subcommittee on Heat Transfer Equipment (SCHTE), 17 November 2015 (Long Beach, California).
  • ABB webinar, February 2015 (online).

Other resources

Contact

Dr. Mark Scanlon, EI e: mscanlon@energyinst.org t: +44 (0)20 7467 7129, +44 (0)20 7467 7100 (switchboard), m: +44 (0)7795 272934.