Pressure relief valves are essential components of natural gas pipelines. To ensure safe operation of the pipeline it is imperative that these valves function properly and reliably. Improper installation or setup can lead to potentially catastrophic problems in the field. In this study the performance of a commonly used pilot operated safety relief valve was examined under both normal and abnormal circumstances. The fundamental operating principles of the valve are reviewed, followed by presentation of experimental data illustrating the blowdown performance of the valve. The experimental techniques employed in the laboratory to simulate pipeline conditions are also described. While the performance of the relief valve was consistent with the manufacturer's specifications under normal setup and operation, significant problems were found to exist when the pilot was incorrectly adjusted, or when pressure pulsations were present. Examples of both cyclic venting and premature relief are shown in the paper. To assist in determining when a pulsation suppressor is required a semi-emperical relationship between pulsation strength, and premature opening pressure, is proposed.

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