High Pressure Hydrogen Pressure Relief Devices: Accelerated Life Testing and Application Best Practices

Robert Burgess, Matthew Post, William Buttner, Carl Rivkin

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Pressure relief devices (PRDs ) are used to protect high pressure systems from burst failure caused by overpressurization. Codes and standards require the use of PRDs for the safe design of many pressurized systems. These systems require high reliability due to the risks associated with a burst failure. Hydrogen service can increase the risk of PRD failure due to material property degradation caused by hydrogen attack. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has conducted an accelerated life test on a conventional spring loaded PRD. Based on previous failures in the field, the nozzles specific to these PRDs are of particular interest. A nozzle in a PRD is a small part that directs the flow of fluid toward the sealing surface to maintain the open state of the valve once the spring force is overcome. The nozzle in this specific PRD is subjected to the full tensile force of the fluid pressure. These nozzles are made from 440C material, which is a type of hardened steel that is commonly chosen for high pressure applications because of its high strength properties. In a hydrogen environment, however, 440C is considered a worst case material since hydrogen attack results in a loss of almost all ductility and thus 440C is prone to fatigue and material failure. Accordingly, 440C is not recommended for hydrogen service. Conducting an accelerated life test on a PRD with 440C material provides information on necessary and sufficient conditions required to produce crack initiation and failure. The accelerated life test also provides information on other PRD failure modes that are somewhat statistically random in nature.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages33
StatePublished - 2017

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5400-67381


  • accelerated life test
  • codes and standards
  • hydrogen safety
  • PRD
  • pressure relief device


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