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THERMAL EXPANSION PROCESS ENGINEERING GUIDELINE REV 0

REVISION ORIG. REV 1 REV 2 REV 3 REV 4 REV 5


DATE JUL 99
ORIG. BY C J SEAGRAVE
APP. BY

CONTENTS

SECTION SUBJECT

1. PURPOSE

2. SCOPE

3. REFERENCES AND GUIDELINES

3.1 Introduction
3.2 Situations when a thermal relief device may not be required
3.3 Situations when a thermal relief device may be required

ATTACHMENTS

1 DECISION TREE

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REV 0 PROCESS ENGINEERING GUIDELINE THERMAL EXPANSION

1. PURPOSE

This guideline provides information on when protection is required against the


effects of thermal expansion of liquid trapped in pipework or equipment and
subsequently heated by an external source, which could be:

• Heat tracing;
• Ambient heat gain;
• Adjacent hot pipework/equipment;
• Flare radiation;
• Fire;
• Hot fluid side of an exchanger;
• Heat from machinery.

2. SCOPE

Applicable during detailed engineering when protection of equipment and


piping from the effects of liquid thermal expansion is considered by the
Process Engineer.

This guideline is intended for use when there are no specific client standards
or preferences, as an aid to deciding whether or not a relief device is required.
A calculation method for the relieving rates is given in FW Process Standard
602 Section 4.3.2. A guide to the selection of disposal systems is given in
API RP 521 Section 4.

3. REFERENCES AND GUIDELINES

1. Chemical Engineering Progress (December 1993).


2. FW Process Standard 602.
3. API RP 521 3rd Edition 1990.

3.1 Introduction

The pressure rise in liquid trapped with heat applied is theoretically very high.
A range of values for most liquids is 4–15 bars per oC of temperature rise.
The actual pressure rise is a function of liquid and pipe thermal expansion,
liquid compressibility and other factors, and is difficult to accurately calculate.
Because of these reasons, for situations when over pressure protection is
deemed necessary, the normal practice would be to provide a thermal relief
device rather than design the pipework or equipment for the maximum
pressure obtainable.

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THERMAL EXPANSION PROCESS ENGINEERING GUIDELINE REV 0

Section 3.2 provides a check list to help decide if a thermal relief device is
not required, while Section 3.3 provides information on when a thermal relief
device may be required. No absolute rules can be given in either instance,
and good engineering judgement must be applied to each specific case.

A decision tree is included in Appendix A as an aid to the decision-making


process.

3.2 Situations when a thermal relief device may not be required

(a) Process piping which is not normally blocked in.


(b) Offsites storage or transport piping systems which are not normally
blocked in for operation or emergency purposes.
(c) Equipment or piping which is less than 95% by volume liquid full.
(d) If the liquid in the pipe is always well above the maximum ambient
temperature obtainable when isolated (include solar radiation effects).
(e) Thermal insulation on the pipe will reduce the rate of energy input. This
could, in some cases, be sufficient to avoid the need for thermal relief.
(f) When there is no source of external heat energy available (this includes
most underground lines).
(g) Systems which are protected by special operating procedures from
being isolated full of liquid. These procedures could include registered
lockable valves, valve interlocks and special permits.
((h) When the blocked in liquid is non-hazardous (non-flammable and non-
toxic), it may be considered that the risks of overpressure within normal
operating procedures are acceptable. (See 4.3(f).
(i) For short lengths of pipe, flexibility in seals and/or a weak point in the
system (Leakage through flanges, valve seats or other fittings) is likely
to relieve overpressure before any major failure of the pipework occurs.
Refer to 3.3(d) for definition of short pipe.

3.3 Situations when a thermal relief device may be required

(a) The cold side of heat exchangers which can be blocked in. (Refer,
however, to 3.2(g) above.)
(b) The cooling fluid side of machinery (pumps, compressors etc) which can
be blocked in. (Refer also to 4.2(g) above).
(c) Process piping which is normally blocked in, or an offsites storage or
transport piping system which can be blocked in for operation or
emergency purposes, with a trapped volume greater than that defined in
(d) below.
(d) The trapped volume above which a thermal relief device should be fitted
is difficult to define absolutely. Some reference quote in terms of
lengths of pipe and others actual volumes. The following guideline is
proposed:

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REV 0 PROCESS ENGINEERING GUIDELINE THERMAL EXPANSION

Relief is required on lengths of piping where the trapped volume is:

> 100 litres for LNG or LPG services


> 500 litres for other flammable or toxic services

Refer to (f) below for other services.

In terms of pipe length for say 2 and 8” pipe, these volumes can be
represented as:

2” 8”
100 litres 46m 3m
500 litres 230m 15m

(e) Double seated valves where pressure exceeding the safety pressure of
the valves can build up in the cavity and blow the packing or damage
the valves.

(f) For non-hazardous services, there still may be circumstances in which a


relieving device is recommended:

(i) Critical Services (where the consequential lost production would


be unacceptable).
(ii) Brittle pipe such as some types of cast iron (refer to Technology
Group), where a pipe failure would be more hazardous.
(iii) Pipe through public areas.
(iv) Piping that is heat traced.
When a potential need for thermal relief is identified using this guideline,
thermal relief policy should be agreed between the Process
Manager/Process Coordinator and the Client. Should further clarification
be required, the matter should be referred to the relevant Group
Manager.

LRQA/PEG/GEN/03  FOSTER WHEELER ENERGY LIMITED1999


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Attachment 1 – DECISION TREE

This decision tree may prove helpful in choosing whether a thermal protection device is
required for liquid expansion. It should only be used in conjunction with the rest of
this document.

Consider liquid filled pipe run that can be


blocked in

EITHER Process piping not normally blocked in 3.2 (a)

OR Storage & transport piping not normally 3.2(b)


blocked in for emergency or YES
operational
purposes
OR Pipe < 95% by volume full of liquid 3.2(c)

OR Liquid at always>ambient temperature 3.2(d) &(f)


with no other external heat

OR Adequate thermal insulation 3.2(e)

NO
Critical service 3.3(f)(i)
YES
YES Brittle pipe 3.3(f)(ii)
Non-hazardous liquid 3.2(h)
(Non toxic and non-flammable) 4.2(h) Pipe route through public areas 3.3(f)(iii)
Heat traced 3.3(f)(iv)
NO

NO
YES
Short pipe 3.3(d)

Thermal protection
not normally required
NO

Thermal protection
may be required

LRQA/PEG/GEN/03  FOSTER WHEELER ENERGY LIMITED1999