Pressure relief valves in water pipes are known to sometimes chatter when the inlet pressure slightly exceeds the maximum allowable working pressure (MAWP) value. Though these devices are responsible for numerous fatigue issues in process industries, there is a relatively low number of technical publications describing well-established facts about them, especially for heavy fluids. The present study deals with the investigation of the stability of a pressure relief valve when a pressure drop device is arranged upstream. The valve is a simple spring device, with a 11/2 inlet diameter and a set pressure equal to 3 MPa. The 12% to 66% range of relative opening for this valve exhibit an unstable static equilibrium of the plug, designed to achieve the so called “pop action”; as soon as the pressure set point is reached, a runaway process leads to the full opening. The statically stable regimes were observed in former studies with respect to the upstream pressure and to the plug position, with a test rig arrangement which ensured an almost constant pressure upstream. In the present study, high pressure drop devices are arranged upstream, in order to stabilize the hydraulic regimes. It is found that the upstream pressure drop devices significantly enlarge the range of steady state plug positions and upstream pressures. Pressure and plug position measurements are shown with a time resolution lower than 2 ms. Comparison with hydraulic regimes of the former studies indicate that the presence of an upstream pressure drop modifies the plug balance. It is proposed that the arrangement of pressure drop device upstream may significantly reduce the risk of valve instability in water pipes.

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