In the process industry, both terms refer to safety devices, which generally come in the form of valves, cylinders, and other cylinders that protect people, property, and the environment. Safety valves and relief valves are integral components of process safety. However, they are used for almost identical purposes. Their main difference lies in their operating mechanisms.
What is the purpose of relief valves?
In the event of an overpressure, a safety valve or pressure relief valve (PRV) protects pressure-sensitive equipment. It is recommended to strip down relief valves regularly and prevent serious damage due to backpressure. Pressure relief valves are a crucial part of any pressurized system. In order to prevent system failures, you can set the pressure to open at predetermined levels. A setpoint, also known as a predetermined design limit, is set for all pressure systems. When the setpoint is exceeded, an overpressure valve opens.
What is the Safety Valve? How does it work?
There are various types of safety valves used in several types of industries, including power plants, petrochemical plants, boilers, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, and more. Using safety valves helps to prevent accidents and injuries that can harm people, property, and processes. Pressure builds up in vessels and systems automatically when the device is activated above a preset level. Safety valves must be configured so that their prescribed pressure is exceeded in order for them to function (i.e., relieve pressure). Ideally, excess pressure should be released either to the atmosphere or back into the pneumatic system to prevent damage to the vessel. In addition, excess pressure should be released to keep pressure within a certain range. As soon as a slight increase in pressure above the desired limit has lifted the safety valve, it opens.
Relief valves versus safety valves
Valve relief removes excessive pressure from a system by limiting its pressure level to a safe level. Often referred to as pressure relief valves (PRVs) or safety relief valves, these valves provide relief from pressure. The purpose of a relief valve is, for example, to adjust the pressure within a vessel or a system so that a specific level is maintained. The goal of a relief valve, unlike a safety valve, is not to prevent damage to the vessel; rather, it is to control the pressure limit of a system dynamically depending on the requirements. Conversely, safety valves have a maximum allowable pressure set at a certain level, which allows escaping liquid or gas whenever the pressure exceeds it, eliminating damage to the system. It is imperative that safety valves are installed in a control system to prevent the development of pressure fluctuations that can cause property damage, life loss, and environmental pollution.
What is the function of relief and safety valves?
The hydraulic system relies on a pressure relief system in order to regulate the running pressure. By allowing excess pressure to escape from the pressurized zone, pressure relief valves and safety valves prevent overpressure when the pressure in the system reaches a predefined limit. By venting excess pressure through a relief port, or returning it through a return line, a pneumatic system can enable the excess pressure to escape into the atmosphere. Pump-driven pressure generators and control media that cannot be vented into the atmosphere are typical examples of this type of application.
A comparison of the functions of safety valves and relief valves
Excess pressure may be relieved from the system using relief valves and safety valves. The valve opening increases proportionally as the vessel pressure increases with the relief valve. Gradually opening the valve rather than abruptly releases only a prescribed amount of fluid. As pressure is reduced, the release proceeds at this rate until the pressure drops. By contrast, an emergency safety valve operates automatically when a predetermined pressure is reached in the system, preventing a catastrophic system failure. When the system is under excessive stress, the safety valve regulates the pressure within the system and prevents overpressure.
What is a setpoint?
Defining a “setpoint” is the process of defining a pressure level which triggers the device to vent excess pressure. Setpoint is different from pressure. Overpressure is prevented by setting these devices lower than the highest pressure the system can handle before overpressure occurs. Setting the device below this pressure prevents overpressure. The valve opens when pressure rises above the setpoint. A setpoint also known as the maximum allowable working pressure (MAWP) cannot be exceeded when deciding the pressure in pounds per square inch (PSIG). The adjustment points for safety valves are generally 3 percent above working pressures, while adjustment points for relief valves are 10% above working pressures.
Choosing between a safety valve and a relief valve.
Pressure in an auxiliary passage can be controlled by a safety valve as well as a relief valve by releasing excess pressure. Safety valves of this type are pressure-sensitive and reliable. Safety valves can be categorized according to their capacity and setpoint, although both terms often refer to safety valves. Self-opening devices open automatically when maximum allowable pressure has been reached rather than being manually activated to prevent over-pressurizing. Contrary to relief valves, safety valves are typically used for venting steam or vapor into the atmosphere. Relief valves regulate fluid flow and compressed air pressure and gases, whereas safety valves typically regulate steam and vapor venting. Put simply, relief valves are used for more gradual pressure control requiring accurate, dynamic systems, whereas safety valves are used for one set to prevent damage to a system.
Why Use the Kelly Pneumatics Electronic Relief Valve?
For pressure control applications that require dynamic setpoints and therefore varying pressure limits, our Electronic Relief Valve is the appropriate solution. This device accepts a control voltage to dynamically set the relief pressure setpoint. Traditional relief valves are set manually, so that a technician must adjust the relief valve and have a pressure gauge to find the accurate setpoint. The Kelly Pneumatic Electronic Relief Valve allows an electronic control system to quickly and safely command a dynamic maximum pressure based on feedback from current system specifications. The Kelly Electronic Relief Valve also has an optional feedback signal representing the current pressure in the system. This allows the control system to dynamically respond to changing conditions.