Low transient pressures in piping systems are different in many ways to high transient pressures. While high pressures can obviously burst pipes or damage components, low pressures can collapse pipes, pull in environmental contaminants, bring components out of solution, or induce transient cavitation, a particular concern for hydrocarbon liquids. This paper will use examples of computer modeling to reveal how common system events such as pump trips or valve closures induce low pressure transient waves that have potential to be just as destructive as more intuitive high pressure waves.

Fluid transient studies and literature often focus on high pressures, or do not clearly demonstrate how liquids with low vapor pressures (such as many hydrocarbons) can be affected. Even discerning a pipe’s negative pressure rating through codes and standards can be a challenge. It is shown that low pressure transients are a potential issue in any liquid system. It is further demonstrated that “Rule of Thumb” or typical simplified calculations are not sufficient to capture these effects, and cannot be used to properly locate and size equipment.

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