Breather valves are low pressure devices designed to protect tanks, process systems and equipment from damage due to over-pressure or vacuum. They are also known as Pressure/Vacuum relief valves. Breather valves retain toxic vapours thus preventing atmospheric contamination and increased fire protection and safety. Retention of vapour also minimizes production losses through evaporation.

Breather Valve

Pressure / vacuum relief valves are used extensively on bulk storage tanks, including fixed roof tanks with floating covers, to minimise evaporation loss. The valves prevent the build up of excessive pressure or vacuum that can damage the storage vessel. Pressure and vacuum protection levels are controlled with weighted pallets or springs and can be combined to provide the required pressure/vacuum settings. It is common to combine pallet and spring systems in one unit i.e. pressure settings with a spring section, and the vacuum settings with the pallet method.

ConfigurationsĀ of Breather Valves

Breather valves are available in a number of configurations as listed below.

  • Pressure And Vacuum Relief Valves
  • Pressure Only Relief Valves
  • Vacuum Only Relief Valves
  • Spring Loaded Relief valves
  • Pilot Operated valves

Applicable Industry Codes and Standards

  • API 2000 - Venting Atmospheric and Low-Pressure Storage Tanks.
  • API 2521 - Use of Pressure-Vacuum Vent Valves for Atmospheric Loss.
  • API 520 Part 1 - Sizing, Selection, and Installation of Pressure-relieving Devices, Part I - Sizing and Selection.
  • API 521 - Pressure-relieving and Depressuring Systems.
  • ISO 28300 - Petroleum, petrochemical and natural gas industries - Venting of atmospheric and low-pressure storage tanks.

The integrity of the seal is tested for leakage in accordance with API Standard 2521. The size of the vent is calculated in accordance with API Standard 2000 (ISO 28300)

Combinations of pallet and spring loading on Breather valves

Breather or pressure/vacuum relief valves have weight-loaded or spring-loaded pallets. Flow through the valve is controlled by the weight of the pallet or the spring force acting on the pallet to keep the device closed.

Breather Valve
Breather Valve
Breather Valve
Breather Valve

Sizing of Breather valves

Size of a breather valve depends on the amount of breathing the tank will experience. This comprises of the following:

Breathing during pumping due to:

  • Pumping fluid into the tank (pressure)
  • Pumping fluid out of the tank (vacuum)

Thermal Breathing due to:

  • An increase in temperature (pressure)
  • A decrease in temperature (vacuum)

In addition to filling and emptying rates and temperature variations - the tank capacity and a number of other variables, including the characteristics of the product stored, the specific gravity of the vapor, etc. affect the volume of tank breathing

Breather manufacturers supply operating curves for their products in order to allow for optimum sizing to meet relief requirements. These should be used when specifying the relief device in order to ensure that it meets the complete range of operating requirements.

Testing requirements of Breather valves

Valves are tested for proper setting and for leakage rate of less than 0.03 Nm3/hr of air at 90% of the set pressure. Additionally valves are tested for leak tightness at 75% of set point as required by API 2000.