When dealing with various systems that handle substances such as liquids or gasses, it is always highly recommended that there are ample fail-safes in place to keep things in check if something goes wrong. For example, a safety valve is a common device in many applications dealing with substances, serving to manage materials or fluids for the means of preventing excessive levels of pressure or temperature. Depending on the criteria and requirements of a particular system, as well as any national standards, a variety of safety valves may be used.
For United States based projects involving boiler and pressure vessel use, the most common standards that safety valves will follow for design are developed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). The ASME I valve is one that follows the requirements set forth in Section I of the ASME pressure vessel code for boiler applications, and it is designed to open when overpressure is within a value of 3% and close within a value of 4%. Meanwhile, ASME VIII valves follow the requirements of Section VIII, and they can open at an overpressure value of 10% while closing within 7%.
There are a variety of valve subtypes that fall under this category, including those such as the low lift safety valve, full bore safety valve, balanced safety relief valve, and power-actuated safety relief valve. Across these various subtypes, small design differences will be present, those of which affect the overall operation of the component. For example, the low lift safety valve has a discharge area that is determinable by the position of the disc, while a full lift variation has a discharge area unaffected by the disc position. With a valve like the power-actuated safety relief type, operation is controlled through an external power source.
While valves manufactured to conform to ASME standards are quite common, ASME is not the only jurisdiction that exists for valve design. In Germany and other parts of Europe, many safety valves are developed following the DIN 3320 standard. These include standard safety valves, full lift safety valves, direct loaded safety valves, diaphragm safety valves, and various others. While each choice presents its various advantages and disadvantages, the choice will often come down to the necessary mass flow rate for discharge, pressure rise, opening design, etc.
Regardless of standard, the conventional safety valve is the most common type available, and they have operational characteristics that are dependent on the backpressure present in the discharge system. While superimposed backpressure existing on the outlet side of a close valve has an effect on the opening and set characteristics, the combined backpressure during discharge will determine the reseat value and blowdown characteristics.
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