Monitoring Pressure Relief Devices

Effectively managing pressure in hydrocarbon-based production processes is critical from a safety, environmental and efficiency standpoint. Pressure relief devices (PRDs) are found throughout the production processing equipment.

Emerson's Marcio Donnangelo


Emerson's Marcos Peluso


At last spring’s 115th American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, Emerson’s Marcio Donnangelo and Marcos Peluso wrote an article, Comply with environmental regulations and detect PRD malfunctions, for the AFPM Conference Daily.

AFPM Conference DailyThey opened noting the increasingly stringent emissions regulations that refiners and petrochemical manufacturers face and the requirements to monitor for fugitive emissions. They define PRDs as including:

…pressure relief valves, pressure safety valves or rupture disks. They activate when pressure approaches the maximum allowable working pressure of the vessel or process component.

While in many cases the gas or liquid is released to a recovery system:

…some PRDs release process fluid directly into the environment, potentially creating explosive and toxic emergencies.

Pressure releases indicate an abnormal process situation, so:

…the sooner a PRD event can be detected, the sooner operators can respond to the root cause problem.

Marcio and Marcos described three common regulatory requirements for these pressure-relieving devices:

…provide an indication and location for a PRD event through electronic monitoring; measure, record and report the time and duration of the PRD event; and notify the operator so corrective action can be taken.

While PRDs release in abnormal situations, they can also develop small leaks when not properly reseated. Traditional monitoring has been done by manual inspection.

Technology advancements in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has led to the develop of wireless acoustic sensors, which:

…detect ultrasound acoustic waves in the pipe wall, as well as its temperature. These small, wireless, lightweight and non-intrusive de-vices can be easily clamped onto an exhaust pipe.

They recommend these devices:

…be installed downstream of a PRD, and as close as possible to the valve. PRDs are usually installed with shutoff and bypass valves for maintenance and special operating conditions.

Read the article for more for how these IIoT devices can be applied on rupture disks and can help with reducing overall emissions.

You can also connect and interact with other emissions monitoring experts in the Wireless and Refining groups in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

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