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show can cause an internal explosion in a tank.

Furthermore, by desi ning for an explosion there is no need to argue in great epth over the probability of it occurrin The main point is to have a formal method to ensure ! t i at the design and construction of a project is in accordance with recognized engineering practice. Thus, in more attention to methods of identifying and ana yzing hazards, we should not overlook the important role of engineering codes of practice as a basis for risk analysis and control. CARLOS RENALLES, National Scientific Services: Do you make any use of the Dow classification index or loss prevention measurements? JOSCHEK: No, we dont use it. WALT HOWARD, Consultant: I want to emphasize one statement that Charlie Solomon made and go just a step further. You were emphasizing the need for hazard identification, where we fail far more than we do on quantitative evaluation of hazard. There is no magic method for identifying or becoming aware of s ecific hazards. Weve heard of special techniques used y various companies and some of these companies promote some very hi hly. We cannot use any magic method to take the place of ard work nor will any magic method provide those. Any applicable method is suitable if properly used and if people work hard enough with their think tanks. We cannot stop with merely good engineering design, good construction and good inspection of that construction. After all, we do have to keep oil in the engine of our car. We cant build a good engine, put oil in it once, and then let it run forever. The same is true for equipment. We do have to do many inspections and checks on plant equipment. Unfortunately we also make changes in equipment and processes. So often those changes have no consideration of the safety aspects involved, and this again is one way in which we fail greatly.

Pg f!

Sometimes we fail in the decision-making process. Many decisions have to be faced by manufacturing management at all levels. The early life of the plant is desi and construction, but the major life is the operation or many years. We have to face many decision situations in o erations. In doing that we normally evaluate the effects o many potential decision alternates including profits, productivity, labor relations and union relations. We tend to forget to evaluate the safety aspects of those decisions. My experience has been that a great many of our major accidents are caused, in the final analysis, by our failures to evaluate safety in the decision-making process. I dont mean to criticize the decision makers. We need to criticize ourselves for not providing the proper training of all of our of fancy training courses. people. We give them all s ~ r t s But, we forget to include some training regarding consideration of safety as ects in making decisions. Lets concentrate attention in Lose areas instead of concentrating our attention on some fancy mathematics related to hazard quantification. I still think hazard quantification has its lace, but again I agree with Dr. Joschek that it has very Emited use, in very specific small areas in a given situation.

H. I. Joschek studied organic chemistryat the University of Heidelberg, Germany, post doctoral fellowships in Paris and at Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago. Since 1966 he has been at BASF
Co., Ludwigshafen, Germany with successive as. signments in research and development, environmental problems, licensing, safety and loss prevention. He is presently safety adviser at the Ludwigshafen site of the company.

A Study of Flame Arrestors in Piping Systems

Even officially approved flame arrestors must be used only under the exact conditions for which they were tested and approved.
G. L. Broschka, I. Ginsburgh, R. A. Mancini, and R. G. Will, Amoco Oil Co., Naperville, Ill.

The ignition of flammable mixtures of hydrocarbons and air or oxygen in pressure vessels and piping can produce disastrous results [ I ] . The best way to eliminate explosion hazards is to avoid mixing of air and hydrocarbons, when feasible, and to require rigorous control of processes that mix air and hydrocarbons. This ractice has become difficult in recent years because o air-pollution control regulations that require collecting and processing hydrocarbon vapors that were previously vented to the atmosphere. Air-pollution controI facilities required at refineries, terminals, service stations, chemical lants, and production facilities have increased the risi that flammable vapor-air mixtures may be in vessels and piping. The use of commercial flame arrestors has been suggested as a way to reduce the risk of flame propagation within these facilities.


In the work reported in this paper, commercial flame arrestors intended for use on tank vents were tested to determine their effectiveness in piping systems containing flammable vapors. The performance of an arrestor was found to be dependent on the location of the arrestor in the system, the ignition location, and the gas velocity in the pipe. Flame propagated through arrestors when flammable gas flowing at velocities above 15 feedsecond (4.6 mhecond) was ignited 3 feet (0.9 m) upstream or 15 feet (4.6 m) downstream from the arrestor. In one case, the housing of a commercial flame arrestor ruptured when tested in a flowing system with ignition 30 feet (9.1 m) upstream. Limited tests were also conducted using sections of pipe packed with Pall rings in place of commercial arrestors.

ISSN 02784513-83-6775-05-$2.00.-he 1983.

American Institute of Chemical Engineers,

When a quiescent flammable gas-air mixture burns in a tube, a portion of the heat of combustion is absorbed by the
January, 1983

Plant/Operotions Progress (Vol. 2, No. 1)

wall of the tube. If the tube is of sufficiently small diameter, the wall can absorb enough heat to prevent the propagation of flame, i.e., quench the flame. Experimental procedures have been developed for determining the quenching diameter, or distance, for quiescent flammable mixtures. The quenching distance for gasoline vapor-air mixtures, for instance, is of the order of one-millimeter [2]. This rinciple has been utilized in the design of commercial ame arrestors where the flame-arresting element consists of a screen pf fine mesh, a bundle of small tubes, or a sandwich of closely spaced lates. Flame arrestors listed by Un erwriters Laboratories, Factory Mutual, or other recognized organizations are intended for service in the vents of oil storage tanks or oil tanker ships [ 3 ] .Underwriters standards, for instance, require that listed flame arrestors be subjected to an ex losion test [4] in which ignition of a quiescent gasoEne va or-air mixture occurs in an open vent pipe on the outlet si e of the arrestor. The outlet pipe is most often limited to 15 feet (4.6 m) in length. The length specified in the listing is often the largest tested and hence provides no information on the performance of the device with longer outlet pipes. Clearly, those test conditions do not reproduce, nor are they intended to reproduce, the operating conditions for facilities where potentially flammable mixtures must be transferred at reasonable flow rates through long pipes. Furthermore, Underwriters caution that a listed arrestor may be ineffective if the outlet pipe is longer than specified in the listing [ 3 ] . Since the effectiveness of an arrestor de ends on removing heat from the combustion rocess, t e velocity and quantity ofthe burning mixture %rough the arrestor can be important considerations. If an ignition occurs in a very long pipe, the flame can accelerate to a very high velocity, and can produce a significant increase in pressure that can drive the flame and/or hot combustion products through the arrestor. The flame acceleration can be very rapid, and sonic or even supersonic flame velocities may be attained in a relatively short length of pipe [5],particularly if the gas is initially turbulent. Literature on the performance of commercial-type flame arrestors in pipes is somewhat limited. A report on work performed in Great Britain indicates that an effective inline arrestor has been developed for flammable mixtures of town gas and air [6]. However, except in specific circumstances such as cited above, it is not generally considered effective to install a flame arrestor in a long pipe to There revent flame propagation in case of ignition Lave been cases in which flame arrestors have failed to stop flame propagation in piping systems.

&second) line veloci ,were ignited with a high-voltage spark. Tests were con ucted with ignition both upstream and downstream of the arrestors. Technical-grade butane, whose composition was confirmed by GC anal sis to be at least 97 mole percent butane, was used in a 1tests. Air was supplied from a filtered 100 psig (792 kPa) plant air s stem. Air and butane flows were introduced through Cali rated flowmeters to control the mixture composition and flowrate. The lines from the flowmeters terminated at a mixin tee connected to the test pipe by about 15 feet (4.6 m) o one-inch (2.5-cm)pipe that contained several tees. The tees were used as elbows and contributed further turbulence to insure good mixing. The feed-preparation system was protected from the effects of the ignitions in the flame tube by a s stem of solenoid-operated block valves, swing check va ves, and blow-out plugs located on the turbulence generating tees. Gas compositions were checked before each test by sampling the mixture leaving the flame tube with a calibrated MSA (Mine Safety Appliances) Gascope Combustible Gas Indicator Model 53. Sandbags were placed around the arrestors and other potentially vulnerable locations in the test equipment. When desired, flame velocities and pressures were determined from measurements made with piezoelectric pressure transducers. The output from the transducers went to an oscilloscope equipped with a camera. The oscilloscope was triggered by an induction coil wrapped around the ignition wire. Ignition was accomplished with a spark plug at one of several locations along the flame tube. A pushbutton switch was used to fire the spark plug via a high-voltage transformer.






The objectives of this study were as follows: Determine the effectiveness of commercially available flame arrestors at conditions similar to those that would be encountered in vapor-recovery system piping. Determine the limitations of such flame arrestors, if they were found to be effective under a limited range of conditions. Determine if alternate piping arrangements, such as locating the arrestor in an enlarged section of pipe, would reduce any limitations found. Accumulate a data base for the development of any novel conceDts generated as a result of the studv. It was not our int&t conduct a comprehensive studi of all available commercial arrestors or to perform precise measurements of flame propagation mechanisms. Flame arrestor tests were performed in a 3-in (76-mm) pipe with flammable mixtures of butane and air..Stationary and flowing mixtures, u p to 20 feetlsecond (6.1

After the arrestor was placed at the desired location in the pipeline and the instrumentation was stabilzed, the flow of butane and air into the 3-inch (76-mm) i e was adjusted to the desired mixture composition an ow velocity. The mixture was maintained at a constant flow for a few minutes to purge the pipeline. Meanwhile, the mixture leaving the pipeline was checked with the Gascope. The mixture was then ignited and a photograph of the oscilloscope screen was taken. If the flame propagated through the arrestor, a loud sharp blast and a flash could be heard and seen at the end of the pipe. The arrestor element was removed for inspection after the tests. Prior to making stationary-mixture tests, the mixture was purged through the 3-inch (76-mm) pipe at 5 feethecond (1.5 mhecond) for several minutes. Before ignition, flow was stopped by manually closing a valve between the mixing tee and the 3-inch (76-mm) pipe. The mixture was allowed to sit for about 20 seconds before ignition. Baseline data on the propagation of a flame in 3-inch (76-mm) pipe was first obtained without an arrestor in the line. Five flame-arrestor configurations were then tested. Upstream ignition was used in 2 through 6 (below). Two series connected 3-in. (76-mm)parallel-plate arrestors in 3-in. (76-mm)pipe, ignition between arrestors. 6-in. (152-mm) parallel plate arrestor in 3-in. pipe. 6-in. parallel-plate arrestor with 3 4 feet (1.07 m) of inlet 6-in. pipe and reducers in 3-in. pipe. 6-in. parallel plate arrestor with Pall-ring packed reducers in 3-in. pipe. An 8-foot(2.4-m) long section of 6-in. pipe filled with Pall rings. 3-in. Crimped Spiral Wound Arrestor in 3-in. pipe. 3-in. parallel-plate arrestor in 3-in. pipe-downstream ignition.


January, 1983

PlantlOperotionsProgress (Vol. 2, No. 1)


Flame Propagation in 3-Inch (76-mm) Pipe

A. Flammable Limits. The flammable range of butaneair mixtures determined by the Bureau of Mines for horizontal flame propagation is 1.9 to 6.5 mole percent [S]. Flammable limits, however, depend upon several parameters, including the geometry of the equipment and the procedure used. Most experimental work on flammable limits has involved stationary gas mixtures. Two publications on the flammability of flowing mixtures reported different effects of flow velocity on the limits [g, 101. We conducted tests to determine the practical limits of flammability for butane-air mixtures flowing in a 3-inch (76-mm) pipe at velocities encountered in Amocos gasoline vapor-recovery systems. A 50-foot (15-m) long section ofpipe was used for these experiments, Figure 1.The mixture was judged flammable if either the rubber stopper at the upstream end of the pipe blew out or flame was observed at the downstream pipe outlet. The ignition location was 15-feet (4.6-m) downstream from the loosely placed stopper. The data, Table 1, indicate that the flammable limits vary with the mixture flow velocity and that the variation in the upper limit is more pronounced than is the variation in the lower limit. In general, flow narrows the flammable range. The composition of the butane-air mixture resulting in the most violent combustion is also shown in Table 1.The velocities and pressures associated with flame propagation at the optimum composition are summarized in Table 2. The violence or severity of the combustion was judged subjectively, based on the intensity of the sound that issued from the pipe. The severity of combustion was very sensitive to the mixture composition, in that only a slight change in composition was sufficient to cause a large change in the noise from the combustion. B . Flame Velocity and Pressure. Butane-air mixtures at the most- violent composition were ignited in the same 3-inch (76-mm)pipe, except that in some cases a pipe plug (closed pipe) was used in place of the rubber stopper (open pipe). Flame velocity and pressure measurements were recorded over a range of pipe lengths and fuel-flow velocities, Table 2. The data indicate the character that would be expected of the flame incident on the face of flame arrestors located in a 3-inch (76-mm) pipe. Flame velocity and pressure were affected by: 1) Gas flow velocity. 2) Location of ignition from the open end of the pipe. 3) Distance the flame travelled from the ignition source. 4) Presence.of a relief vent at the closed (upstream) end
Of flame the id not propagate upstream when ignition The was within 6 feet (1.8m) from the open end of the pipe, and the mixture was flowing at a velocity of 5 feeusecond (1.5 m/second). However, at the same flow velocity flame propagated upstream when ignition occurred 8 feet (2.4 m) or more upstream of the open end. Table 3 lists the maximum ignition distance from the open end for which the flame did not propagate upstream for a particular flow velocity.

Figure 1. Pipe for studying flame propagation.

The average flame velocity between the ignition source and the location ofthe three pressure transducers was used to characterize the flames. These values are re orted in Table 2. The actual flame velocity at the end o the pipe may be much higher than the average listed in Table 2, because the flame is accelerating at high rates in the pipe. Since, for subsonic speeds, our instruments could have resolved differences between the times of arrival for the first and third transducers, it is likely that detonation (supersonic) velocities were attained during at least some of the tests. We measured transient pressures in the range of200-220 si (1370-1520kPa) in some tests. This is a considerably gigfer range than would be expected for a butane-air mixture assuming completely adiabatic conditions (flame pressure 6 to 10 times the initial pressure) and tends to confirm the existence of detonation conditions in at least some of our runs.

Flame Arrestor Tests


Eight flame-arrestor schemes were tested in a 3-inch (76-mm) pi eline. The flame velocity and pressure approaching i e arrestor were controlled by varying the distance between the i nition source and the arrestor, the fuel flow velocity, and t e use of either a rubber-stopper or a pipe plug in the tee at the upstream end of the 3-inch (76-mm)pipe. Tests conducted with the pipe plug in place are termed closed-end tests, while those with the rubber stopper are termed open-end tests. Flame arrestors used for test series A, B, C , D, F, and H consisted of an aluminum housing which contains a removable arrestor element of corrugated aluminum plates. The arrestor element for the 3-inch (76-mm) arrestor is 4 inches (0.1 m) deep and presents an 8-inch x 8-inch (0.2 m x 0.2 m) surface to an approaching flame. The crimped corrugated plates are spaced 0.049 inches (1.24 mm) apart and provide 660 passa es for the flame. Underwriters Laboratories listing speci es that this arrestor be installed with not more than 15 feet (4.6 m) of vent or downstream pipe. The 6-inch (150-mm) flame arrestor consists of an arresting element 6 inches (150 mm) in depth and presents an 11-inch x 11-inch (0.29 m x 0.29 m) surface to an approaching flame. The crimped corrugated plates are spaced 0.037-inches (0.94 mm) apart and provide 2472

TABLE 1. FLAMMABLE LIMITS FOR BUTANE-AIR FLOWING IN A %INCH ( 7 6 - ~ MPIPE ) Flammable Limits, vol. percent 2.9-5.7 2.74.3 2.8-51 Mixture Composition Producing Most Violent Combustion, vol. percent 4.1 3.1-3.2 3.3-3.7

Fuel Velocity, Wsec

5 10


SI Conversion:

0.3 = m l s e c

PlantlOperotions Progress (Vol. 2, No. 1)

January, 1983

SI Conversion:
Wsec x 0.3 = d s e c

Maximum Distance For Which Upstream Flame Propagation Did Not Occur, ft
6 8 12

0 0 2 8 % 2s;
3 3 4




passages to the flame (approximately 4 times as many as the 3-inch (76-mm)arrestor element). Underwriters Laboratories listing s ecifies that this arrestor also be installed with not more an 15 feet (4.6 m) of vent pipe. A . Arrestor Configuration A - Two 3-Inch (76-mm) Flame Arrestors in &Inch (76-mm)Piping. The test-pipe configuration for this series is shown in Figure 2. Butaneair mixtures at the optimum concentration were passed through the arrestors and ignited with a spark plug 3 feet (0.9 m) upstream of arrestor A. Both flame arrestors quenched flames when the mixture was flowing at a velocity of 10 feevsecond (3dsecond).However, with amixture velocity of 20 feevsecond (6.1 mlsecond), the flame passed through arrestor A. No significant damage was done to arrestor A. However, an imprint of carbon was found on the incident face of the element. The imprint suggests that the flame may have impinged on a 3-inch (76-mm)diameter portion of the 8-inch (0.2-m) square area of the-arrestor element. In one test, at a flow velocity of 20 feevsecond (6.1 mlsecond), the ignition switch was actuated twice in a period of about four seconds; the first ignition failed to produce a bangand it was not certain that the mixture had ignited, hence the igniter was activated a second time. The flame was observed at the downstream end of the pipe after the second ignition, but the flame also attached itself to the face of Arrestor A and continued to burn for about 10 seconds-at which time the flow was stopped. After the test, we examined the arrestor element and discovered that it was distorted and partially melted (Figure 3). No



Figure 2. Test pipe for configurations A &


January, 1983

Plont/OpQrotions Progress (Vol. 2, No. 1)

damage of any sort was observed on the element of arrestor

B. B. Arrestor Configuration B 3- lnch (76-mm)Flame Arrestor in 3-Inch (76-mm) Piping-Downstream Ignition. The pipe configuration was the same as configuration A. However, the flame-arrestor element from A was removed from the pipe and the ignition source was moved 3 feet (0.9 m) further upstream from the end of the pipe. A butane-air mixture, flowing at 20 feetlsecond (6.1 mhecond) was ignited 13feet (4 m) downstream of flame A violent ignition was heard and the flame arrestor 3. passed through and damaged the flame arrestor element, Figure 4. No flame velocity or pressure measurements were made, but subsequent tests showed that the arrestor plates begin to deform when subjected to 65 psi (450 kPa) static pressure. C. Arrestor Configuration C-6-Inch (150-mm) Flame Arrestor in 3 Inch (76 mm) Piping. A 6-inch (150-mm) flame arrestor was placed in a 3-inch (76-mm) pi e (Figure 5).It was thought that the oversized arrestor mig t be more effective than the 3-inch (76-mm) arrestor, since it provided more cooling surface and a larger housing diameter to reduce flame velocity at the face of the arrestor element. The flowing mixtures were ignited upstream from the flame arrestor, which quenched flame propagation initiated44 feet (13.4 m) (the maximum distance we tested) from the arrestor with fuel flowing at 5 feetlsecond (1.5


m/second). At higher fuel-flow velocities, the arrestors performance was dependent upon the ignition location, Table 4. D. Arrestor Configuration D-6-lnch (1 50-mm) Flame Pall Arrestor with Reducers Packed with 518-Inch (16-mm) Rings. A 6-inch (150-mm)flame arrestor was placed in the 3-inch (76-mm) pipe (Figure 5).Both 6 in. x 3 in. (150 mm x 76 mm) reducers were packed with %-inch (16-mm)aluminum Pall rings to provide additional cooling surface area and to perhaps facilitate quenching flame propagation. Ignitions 44 feet (13.4 m) upstream of the arrestor were quenched at mixture flow velocities of 0, 5, and 10 feetlsecond, Table 4. However, with a mixture flow velocity of 20 feetlsecond (6.1 mhecond), the flame passed through the arrestor and damaged the arrestor element, Figure 6. E . Arrestor Con guration E-6-lnch (150-mm) Pipe Section Packed wit %-Inch(16-mm)Pall rings. A section of 6-inch (150-mm)pipe acked with %-inch (16-mm)aluminum Pall rings, in p a c e of the flame arrestor, was placed in the 3-inch (76-mm) pipe (Figure 5). The Pall rings were held in an 8-foot (2.4-m) section of &inch (150-mm) diameter pipe with a screen. The packed pipe section consisted of: 2-yi feet (0.76 m) of 3-inch (76-mm) pipe 3-yi feet (1.07 m) of 6-inch (150-mm) pipe 6 in. x 3 in. (150 mm x 76 mm) reducers The Pall-ring arrestor quenched flame when ignition was 44 feet (13.4 m) upstream propakation or ue mixtures flowing at velocities of 0 , 5 , 10, and 20 feetlsecond (6.1 mlsecond), Table 5. The rubber stopper in the tee (Figure 5) was replaced with a pipe plug. As in the open pipe configuration, all flame propagation was quenched (Table 5).In all, 70 tests (including du licates of those listed in Table 5) were performed with e same Pall rings and no flame propagation through the apparatus was observed. After about 30 tests, the Pall rings were removed for inspection, and only those rings in the 3-inch (76-mm) pipe section were damaged. The rest of the rings were coated with pi e scale and carbon, but in other respects were in 00 condition. The same observations were made after e final test. F . Arrestor Configuration F-6-Inch (150-mm) Flame Arrestor with a 6-Inch (150-mm) Pipe Section in 3-Inch (76-mm) Pipe. A 3-yi-foot (1.07-m) length of 6-inch (150-mm) diameter pipe was placed upstream of a 6-inch (150-mm) flame arrestor in a 3-inch (76-mm) pipeline



Figure 4. Damaged arrestor element-configumtion B.

3rubb.r A nopper



Cornurntion C. blnchflmewnstorwith 6xr r educen ConfigurationD. 6-Inch fieme mnor with RIIringpecked6x3reducen ConfigurnionE. Plpe.eFtion packed with Rlirlnga



Figure 6. Damaged arrestor element-configuration D.

ConfiguretionF . Il-lnchflme~n8torwith overmized plpeupmmn + 7 + Configurdan 0. 3-inch arrestor

4 k13
January, 1983 9

Figure 5. Flame arrestor test configuration.

PlanWOperations Progress (Vol. 2, No. 1)


A A A B** C C

Distance Between Ignition and Arrestor, ft

3 3 3 13 28 28 28 28 34 34 34 34 43 43 43 43 43 43 43

Fuel velocity, ft/sec

10 20 20 20 0

Flame Pass Through Arrestor?*

No Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes No No Yes Yes No No No No No Yes Yes

10 20 0


10 20 0 5 0

C D D D D F***
* Determined by direct observation of end of pipe.

10 20 20

** Downsbeam ignition location.

SI Conversion:

***This test was conducted with a "closed" end.

0.3 = m/sec

forming a factory-assembled flame-arresting element. The flame-arresting element was bolted between two cast TABLE 5. TESTS OF PACKED-BED ARRESTOR-CONFIGU~TION aluminum flanged ends to form the complete unit. E-UPSTREAM IGNITION-ALL TESTS SUCCESSFUL* The flame arrestor was tested in a 50-ft (15-m) long section of 3-in. (76-mm) pipe (Figure 5). All tests were conDistance Between Ignition Flow Velocity Open or ducted with the flammable gas flowing through the ipe and Arrestor, ft fthec Closed End Pipe at a velocity of 17 feethecond (5.2 mhecond). Spark p ugs were used to ignite the flammable gas at distances of $6, 0 28 open 9, 12, and 30 (9.2 m) feet upstream from the arrestor. Re5 28 open sults are summarized in Table 6. 10 28 open The first test was conducted by igniting the gas-30 feet 20 28 open (9.2m) upstream from the arrestor. This test produced two 0 open 34 results: 1)the flame propagated through the arrestor; and 5 open 34 2 ) the shell of the flame-arresting element exploded. Figopen 10 34 ure 8 shows a close-up view of the failed flame arrestor. 20 open 34 0 open 43 10 open 43 20 open 43 0 28 closed 5 closed 28 10 28 closed 28 20 closed 34 0 closed 5 34 closed 10 closed 34 20 34 closed 0 43 closed 5 43 closed 10 43 closed 20 closed 43

* Determined by direct observation of end of pipe. SI Conversion:




(Figure 5). The sudden enlargement in the pipe was expected to decelerate the flame. Butane-air mixtures flowing at a velocitv of 20 feethecond (6.1 d s e c o n d were ignited 44 feet (13.4 m) upstream of the arrestor. The flame propagated through the arrestor and dama ed it. G. Arrestor Configuration G-3 Inch C r i m p % Spiral Wound Arrestor in &Inch (76-mm)Pipe. A 3-in. (76-mm) flame arrestor was selected for testing. T h e flamearresting element (Figure 7) consisted of a tube bank formed from two sheets of aluminum (one flat and one crimped) wound into a s iral and mounted in a fabricated aluminum shell. The tubPe bank was welded to the shell,

Figure 7. Crimped spiral-wound arrestor element-Eonfiguration



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Plant/Operotions Progress (Vol. 2, No. 1)

TABLE 6. TESTSOF CRIMPED SPIRAL WOUND ARRESTOR-CONFIGURATION &UPSTREAM I G M T I O N ~ P E N END PIPE Distance Between Ignition and Arrestor, Flow Velocity ft ft/sec Flame Pass Through Arrestor?* Yes (arrestor exploded) no no no Yes



- w




Figure 9. Test configuration Hdownstream ignition,

30 3 6 9 12
SI Conversion:
ftkec x 0.3

17 17 17 17 17

pipe. Hence, propagation to an arrestor from the downstream direction in a flowing system should, as the tests conducted in the flame propagation studies demonstrate, be considered a possibili . A 3-inch (76-mm) parallel plate arrestor identical to at tested in Series A was installed in a iping configuration described in Figure 9. Thermocoup es were placed both upstream and downstream of the arrestor at a distance of one foot (0.3 m) from the flanges to provide an indication of whether the flame front reached and passed through the arrestor. Test results are summarized in Table 7. The flame generated by igniting a butane-air mixture 25 feet(7.6 m) downstream of the flame arrestor passed through and severely damaged the plates of the arrestor element when the mixture was flowing at 20 feethecond (6.1misecond). Another arrestor was installed and tested with the igniter 10 feet (3 m) downstream. Flame produced by igniting a mixture flowing at 5 feetlsecond (1.5 dsecond) moved upstream but did not pass through the arrestor. However, the flame stabilized on the face of the arrestor. The fuel was shut off after about 15 seconds, and subsequent inspection revealed partial melting of the flame-arrestor element.

* Determined by direct observation of end of pipe


This result illustrates the fallacy of the idea that lacing an arrestor in an unsuitable location is acceptable ecause it cant hurt. A replacement arrestor was tested beginning with ignition at 3 feet (0.9 m) upstream from the arrestor and subsequently moving the ignition point to 6 feet (1.8m), 9 feet (2.7 m), and finally to 12 feet (3.7 m) upstream. No evidence of flame propagation through the arrestor was observed with ignition at 3,6, or 9 feet, but flame propagated through the arrestor with ignition 12 feet upstream. Following failure of the arrestor to quench the flame, it was disassembled for inspection. No evidence of physical damage to the flame arresting element was noted. The manufacturer of this arrestor supplies an essentially identical unit with a stainless-steel housing. This might have prevented the rupture of the shell that we observed in the first test, but we have no reason to expect that its flamequenching ability would be better. H . Arrestor Configuration H-3-lnch (76-mm) ParallelPlate Arrestor in 3-Inch (76-mm) Pipe-Downstream lgnitionapen-End Pipe. In complex piping systems, a flame front can enter a pipe from a branch connection at a point located between an arrestor and the outlet end of the


The acceleration of a flame propagating through a pipe and the pressure generated by the combustion of a flammable mixture in a pipe depend on several parameters including: a. Flow velocity of the flammable mixture. b. Location of the point of ignition with respect to the point at which flame velocity and pressure are measured. c. Provision of a means for pressure relief in the pipe. Commercial flame arrestors of the type utilized on oil storage tanks and oil tanker ships may not prevent the propagation of flame in piping systems carrying flowing flammable mixtures. Flame arrestors are not an acceptable alternative to the avoidance of flammable mixtures in piping systems. The insertion of aluminum Pall rin s in an oversize section of pipe may be a more e ective means of quenching flame propagation than commercial flame arrestors. Additional studies would be required to determine reliable design parameters for a Pall-ring flame arrestor,


SI Conversion:

Flow Velocity ft/sec

5 20

Flame Pass Through Arrestor?* no Yes

* Determined by thermocouples located one foot from arrestor flanges.

Figure 8. Ruptured arrestor element-configumtion G.

0.3 = mlsec

#ant/Operationr Progress Wol. 2, No. 1)

January, 1983


particularly with respect to scale-up to larger pipe diameters. For our final comments, it is worth noting that one of the arrestors tested in this pro ram was listed or approved by seven organizations inclu%in two of the national testing laboratories.The devices wi 1 robably function effectively in applications for which %elistings were granted; i.e., when located sufficiently close to the outlet of a pipe or vent containing a quiescent mixture and when the ignition source is located at the outlet. However, our tests demonstrated that the user cannot place the arrestor anywhere, merely because the device is listed or approved by a reco nized agency and is supplied with a flange on each end. I an arrestor is to be used at conditions different from that for which it was listed or approved by a recognized organization, then it must be tested at those conditions and in the exact size and mechanical form in which it will be used.



1. Hazards of Air, American Oil Company, 5th Edition,

ing discharged to atmosphere, we have developed ex sive systems which roduce an explosion hazard, angewe try to solve this prob em by a basic research program. It is also the classical example of what ha pens when wellmeaning legislators interfere in the elds where they dont fulfy understand and try to solve one relatively small environmental problem and land with the more serious explosion problem. MANCINI: I think that is correct. To date I do not know of an incident in which an ignition in a vapor recover system resulted in flame pro agation from location to ocation. However, I do know o cases where ignitions, or near ignitions, occurred at the vapor rocessing e ui ment itself. Hence, this possibility must e considerel a z n g with the possibility of ignition at a particular loadin spot in an interconnected system. Ifan ignition occurs, tf e absence ofa flammable mixture in the At facilities where gasoline is flammable some of the time, from gasoline loading are less volatile products.

Chicago (1964). 2. Lewis, B. and G. vonElbe, Combustion, Flame and Explosions, Academic Press, New York (1951). 3. Gas and Oil Equipment List, underwriters Laboratories (Oct., 1973). 4. FIame Arrestors for Use on Vents of Storage Tanks for Petroleum Oil and Gasoline, Underwriters Laboratories, UL525, 3rd Edition (1973). 5. Henderson, E., Combustion Gas Mixtures in Pipelines, Proceedings of the Pacijc Coast Gas Association, 32,98-111 (1941). 6. Cubbage, P. A., Flame Traps for Use with Town Gas/Air Mixtures, The Gas Council, Research Communication GC63, London (1959). 7. h i s t e a d , G., Safety in Petroleum Refining and Related Industries, 2nd Edition, John G. Simmonds and Co., Inc., New York (1959). 8. Coward, H. F. and G. W. Jones, Limits of Flammability of Gases and Vapors, Bull. 503, Bureau of Mines, Washington, D.C. (1952). 9. Starkman, E. S., L. P. Hexby, and A. G. Catteneo, A Study of Free Flames in Turbulent Streams, 4th Symposium(Intern.) on Combustion. The Williams & Wilkins Co., Baltimore, (1953), p . 670-673. 10. Cresciteii. S.. F. Naoolitano. G. Russo. and L. Tranchino. FlammabiliG Limit: on Flowing Gases, presented at the 3rd International Symposium on Combustion Processes, Kazimierz, Poland, Sept. 24-27, 1973.

Gregory L.Broschka is currently a Specialist in Industry Supply Analysis with the Standard Oil Company (Indiana). He holds an M.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University and has been employed by Standard, or its s u b s i d i q companies, for 8 years. While he was with the Ammo Oil Company Research Department, he conducted research in flammability and flame propagation, synthetic fuels, and leak detection technology.

Irwin Ginsburgh is a Senior Research Associate with the Amoco Oil Company Research and Develo ment Department with whom he has been empfoyed for 31 years. He holds a PhD in Physics from Rutgers University and has conducted extensive research in gas phase detonations and static electricity. Current research interests include unconfined vapor cloud explosions, vapor recovery, and advanced energy sources. He holds 42 patents, has been awarded four IR 100awards, and has published numerous articles and one book.
Robert A. Mancini is a Research Supervisor and Process Safety Specialist with the Amoco Oil ComResearch and Development Department. He 01 s a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University and has conducted research in reaction kinetics, process safety, environmental conservation, and probability analysis related to process safe and equipment reliability. He is a member of Static Electricity and Fire Safety Engineering Subcommittees of the American Petroleum Institute Committee on Safety and Fire Protection and is a member ofthe NFPA Explosion Protection Systems Technical Committee.


AL CORONA, Mobil Research: We found a disadvanta e


in one type of parallel late arrestor. If you pulled drawer to inspect the p ates or clean them and then replaced the drawer carelessly or pushed it in too fast, the momentum would pack the plates up at one end and leave uneven spaces between the plates. This can result in a flame propagation through the plates. MANCINI: Yes. There can be man problems with these devices, if they are not installed an maintained properly. TREVOR KLETZ: It seems to me that this connection of vapors from tank truck filling and so on is almost the classical example of solving one problem by buying a worse problem. To prevent relatively small amounts of vapor be-


Robert G.WiII is Director of the Engineering and

Environmental Researrh Division of Ammo Oil Company Research and Development Department and has been employed by Amoco Oil or its subsidiary companies for 29 years. He is a mechanical engineering graduate from Purdue University and has conducted research in oil spill control, process safety, and burner design. He holds five patents, has been awarded an IR 100 award, and is a Registered Professional Engineer.


January, 1983

Plant/Operations Progress (Vol. 2, No. 1)