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Rupture Disks for Process Engineers - Part 3

Nov 08 2010 01:30 PM | pleckner in Safety and Pressure Relief -----

Maximum Allowable Operating Pressure

What is the maximum allowable operating pressure in the vessel?

Up to now, the discussions focused on the upper limit of the stamped burst pressure because this is governed by code. But the lower limit is extremely important to consider as well because of the possible affect it has on the maximum allowable operating pressure in the vessel.

Operating Ratio (OR)

The operating ratio is defined as the ratio of the maximum operating pressure to the lowest stamped burst pressure. The OR is used to protect against premature bursting of the rupture disk. If the operating pressure is too close to the lowest stamped burst pressure, or the system pressure cycles (pressure rises and falls during operation) too close to the stamped burst pressure, the material will fatigue and can

eventually loose its structural integrity. This is a classic reason for premature bursting of a rupture disk.

The manufacturer publishes the Operating Ratio for every rupture disk model they sell. For example, the Continental Disc Corporation's ULTRX rupture disk has an operating ratio of 90%4. This means the system pressure can operate to within 90% of the lowest stamped burst pressure without the fear of premature bursting. However, it's always best to operate as far away from the lowest stamped burst pressure as you can to avoid material fatigue.

From Figure 3B above, the lower limit or minimum stamped burst pressure is 85.7 psig:

Pstamped_min = (Pspec) - ABS [(-MR/100)] x (Pspec)

Where ‘ABS' stands for Absolute Value.


Pstamped_min = (Pspec) x {1- ABS [(-MR/100)]}

Since Pspec = 95.2 psig and the lower value of MR = -10%,

Pstamped_min = 95.2 x {1 - ABS [(-10/100)]} = 95.2 x {1-ABS [(-0.1)]} = 95.2 x (1-0.1) = 95.2 x 0.9 = 85.7 psig

Therefore based on an OR of 90%, the maximum allowable operating pressure should not be greater than:

Pop = Pstamped_min x OR = 85.7 x 0.9 = 77 psig.

Since our discussions have been based on a maximum operating pressure of 70 psig, this rupture disk is acceptable. But note that this 10% cushion exists only because of the design pressure margin used (25 psig). Had the margin been less, say only 10%, the rupture disk we would want to use would be unacceptable.

How to avoid this problem?

  • Set the design pressure appropriately
  • Choose a rupture disk with a MR of ± 0%
  • Choose a rupture disk with a OR of 90% (they don't really go much higher)

There is one more point to consider. Although I have never seen any mention of checking the maximum allowable operating pressure against the minimum expected burst pressure (arrived at by taking into account the burst tolerance), I think it only makes good engineering sense to do so. After all, if the disk can burst at this lower pressure, one certainly does not want to operate too close to it!

Getting back to our question, what is the maximum allowable operating pressure in the vessel? In this case, it is 77 psig.

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