This Day in History (1986): New sound power level technology predicts possibility of pipe fatigue
The technology is applicable throughout all the company's plants.
From the Aug. 27, 1986, edition of The Arabian Sun
Very few gas plants in the world have the high volume and pressure that are intrinsic to Aramco gas facilities, as well as the large relief valve systems that protect against potential ruptures during upset plant conditions.
Recently Aramco process engineers analyzed these relief systems and devised sophisticated procedures to incorporate sound power level technology acquired from Exxon.
This technology helps determine whether relief systems would suffer pipe fatigue from acoustically induced vibrations called by "a relief" during an upset condition and offers approaches to prevent fatigue or failure.
"When a relief valve lifts to offset pressure caused by an upset like a blockage or fire, the resulting high gas velocities can produce sonic flow (flow at the speed of sound) and high noise levels that — depending upon the individual system and the duration the system is operating — can cause serious damage," says Frank Hollis, engineering specialist within the Process and Control Systems Department.
In the past, a major stumbling block to gauging sound power levels with the system's piping — sometimes consisting of thousands of meters between flare and relief valve — was the inability to quantify the levels at critical pipe locations as well as their potential impact.
Hollis developed several sophisticated computer programs for the IBM mainframe -- by incorporating pertinent data such as physical properties of the gas and safety valve capacities -- that calculate pressure drops and predict sonic shock waves at critical points in the relief system. These programs allow a process engineer to sit down at a terminal and in a short time produce a pressure profile of a particular relief system.
Caption for top photo: Frank Hollis, engineering specialist with Process and Control Systems, refers to one of his IBM computer programs that calculate pressure drops and predict sonic shock wave occurrences in relief valve piping.
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