Operating Pressure

Definition - What does Operating Pressure mean?

Operating pressure is the pressure at the actual operating point used to specify normal operation for valves, actuators and other devices. It is the system pressure at which a process operates safely.

For any pressurized system, safe operating pressure is the maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP), which refers to the wall strength of a pressurized cylinder such as a pipeline or storage tank, and how much pressure the walls may safely hold in normal operation. The MAOP is less than the maximum allowable working pressure (MAWP), which is the maximum pressure based on design codes that the weakest component of a pressure vessel can handle.

Corrosionpedia explains Operating Pressure

Operating pressure is regarded as the standard level of pressure a system operates under, usually within a fairly narrow range of tolerances. Many systems ranging from refinery to space suits are designed to operate under pressure and do not function when there is no pressure. Generally, if the pressure is too low, the system cannot function, and when it is too high, there is a risk of explosion, as the components cannot tolerate the high pressure.

A gauge shows the current pressure on most pressurized systems. It often highlights operating pressure in green to indicate when the system has enough pressure to be operational. Lower pressure may be yellow, indicating that either the system is not pressurized yet, or there is a problem of some kind preventing full pressure, like a leak or a shortage of gas. The high pressure zone is often highlighted in red and alarms may illuminate when it passes a certain level.

Pressure can be controlled in a system by a number of means, including using various ways to charge the system to bring it to full pressure, and controlling the flow of pressure with valves. The system is designed to reach and maintain operating pressure unless there is a problem. Relief valves and other safety measures are used to prevent catastrophic system failures.

If a system is chronically over or under pressurized, this can lead to malfunctions. It is also a sign of an underlying issue that needs to be addressed, and it should be evaluated to learn more about the malfunction.

Operating pressure can vary depending on temperature and altitude.

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