Overview and application of Pressure Vacuum Relief Valve (PVRV)

Protection devices or elements mounted on top of an immovable roof atmospheric storage tank’s nozzle opening are known as pressure/vacuum relief valve (PVRV). The primary objective is the protection of the tank against possible collapse or rupture. A zero or uncontrolled opening can rupture the fixed roof atmospheric tank due to an increase in pressure which is caused either by pumping a non-viscous liquid or change in vapour pressure by extreme thermal changes.

And as the liquid level condenses, so does the vapour space pressure below the atmospheric pressure. This specific vacuum condition should be controlled by letting the atmospheric air to drift into the tank. An obvious fact is that the tank requires breathing space to avoid any possibility of rupture or explosion. This is the reason a pressure/vacuum relief valve is commonly referred to as a ‘breather valve’.

Basic fire protection mode

Application of the valve oversees:

  • Close tank principles within pressure setting to the vacuum side which limits vapour access to external fire and combustible sources
  • The velocity of relieving vapour is greater than the speed of flame whereas valve discharge to the atmosphere is positive which protects the tank from external flammable sources
  • Rich or significant vapour fusion inside the tank due to equilibrium achieved in a closed tank can’t be burned. But when draining the tank due to oxygen and inbreathing in the air makes thus vapour mixture susceptible to Kindle for which fire extinguisher is needed
  • Recurrent inbreathing allow the vapour to escape from the tank into the atmosphere but, it can be prevented when done in a safe mode
  • The valve also helps in reducing overall corrosion in a plant due to the managed emission of vapour


API2000 recommend the use of a pressure vacuum relief valve on atmospheric storage tanks with a flashpoint below 100-degree Fahrenheit. OSHA also recommends storing Class I liquids in the tank and equipping them with a venting mechanism which is closed in a normal way that maintains pressure level and vacuum conditions. Regulatory Bodies namely OSHA, API, NFPA, insurance agencies and more that deal with tank safety recommend the installation of these devices on combustible liquid storage tanks.

The atmospheric storage tanks are purposed to keep liquid hydrocarbons in an operating condition, close to the temperature and atmospheric pressure conditions. These tanks are tailored specifically to overrule pressure and vacuum conditions brewing in the tank due to loading, unloading, thermal expansion and liquid contraction process. All of this constantly keeps the temperature in fluctuation which makes it important to control the process before it backfires or makes a harmful impact.

The tanks are ideal and economical for storing liquid hydrocarbons and chemicals in bulk quantity following the design as per API650 standard which complements to the conical armoured roof. Overall design chemistry makes it susceptible to rupture or combust due to which pressure vacuum relief valve is applied. It protects vapour and content in the tank from escaping without bringing any harm even with all the temperature fluctuations and overall effect on the wet surface area.

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