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Basics of Flare Design

Sandip Lahiri
Process Design Engineering Cell
IOCL-RHO, Noida
Flare
Disposal method of
Operational
&
Emergency Relief
FlammableSubstance
to a safe location
Uses Combustion
To
Convert
Flammable,Toxic/Corrosive
Vapors
Less Objectionable Compounds
To
Consist of
•Piping
•Vessel
•Stack
Environmental Control
Continuous flow of excess gas
Large surges of gas in emergency
Factors affecting Design
•Physical & Chemical Properties of Fluid
Flash Point
Flammable limits
Ignition Temp
Phase Change
Reactive Chemicals
•Recovery Value
Costly Solvents
Factors affecting Design (Contd..)
•Availability of Space
•Economics
Initial Cost
Operating Cost
•Public Relations
If it is seen from residential area
How to determine Flare Load
Safety are used to protect pressure vessels.
Safety duty are calculated considering following contingencies
Blocked Flow
External Fire
Reflux Failure in columns
Power Failure in Units/Columns
Cooling Water Failure/Air Cooler Failure
Individual unit total flare load is computed considering the exigencies as
above.
The maximum of them is considered as flare load ex the unit.
All units are summed up to compute the flare load.
Often cooling water supply, power supply is given from different sources so
that controlling flare load is not additive.
The controlling load will determine the sizing of
Flare Header
Flare Stack
Seal
K.O. Drum
Seal Drum
API RP 520 & API RP 521
Combustion Properties
Flame
Smoke
Radiation
Flame-Rapid self sustaining chemical reaction
Diffusion Flame:Occurs on Ignition of Fuel jet issuing into air
Aerated Flame:Occurs when fuel & air are premixed before
ignition
Generally Flame front is normally at the top of stack
At low gas velocityback-mixing of air occurs at the top of the stack
resulting in combustion at a flame front located part of the way
down the stack creating high stack temperature.
Flame extinguishment may also occur with subsequent formation
of an explosive mixture in the stack.
Smoke
HC Flames are luminous Carbon Particles
Released from Flames
Smoke
When the System is Fuel Rich
Steam
Reduce Smoke
formation
Two School of Thoughts
Steam separates HC molecules Minimizing Polymerization
Forms O2 compounds that burns at a reduced rate &
temp that are not conducive for cracking &
polymerization
Water Vapor + Carbon Particles
CO+CO2+H2
Removing the Carbon before
it cools and forms Smoke
Suggested Steam Injection Rates
In extreme cold climates an internal steam nozzle may cause
Condensate to enter flare header, collect and freeze.
In such cases high pressure air may be used.
Only disadvantage of air is that it is more expensive than steam
Air is advantageous in desert and island where water is shortage.
Steam pr-100-150 psi
Air pr-100 psi
Air requirement is approximately 20% more than steam as
compressed air does not produce water-gas shift reaction
that occurs with steam.
Steam Injected smokeless Flare Tip
Radiation
Effect of Radiation Intensity on Human skin
Intensity Pain Threshold Burn
Btu/hr/sqft Seconds Seconds
2000 8 20
7500 - 6
Intensity Pain Threshold Burn
Btu/hr/sqft Seconds Seconds
250-330 - -
Solar Radiation
As allowable Radiation level is a function of length of exposure,
factors involving reaction time & human mobility to be considered.
In emergency releases a reaction time of 3-5 secs may be considered.
5 secs for individual to seek cover or depart from the area.
Total exposure time of 8-10 secs.
Solar radiation to be added for considering total exposure time.
Clothing provides some shielding.
In case of radiation emanating from an elevated point,standard PPE
like Hard Hat may reduce thermal exposure.
Permissible Design Total Radiation
In most cases, equipment can safely tolerate higher degrees
of heat intensity than those defined for personnel.
However, if any items vulnerable to overheating problems
are involved,such as construction of materials that have low
melting points (aluminum,plastic),heat sensitive streams,
flammable vapor space,or electrical equipment then the effect
of radiant heat on them may be evaluated.
Minimum distance from a flare to an object whose
exposure to thermal radiation must be limited
Q = 2.15 x 10
9
BTU per hr
K= 2000 Btu per hr per sq ft
F=0.3
T= 1.0
So D= 160 ft.
Flare manufacturers have their own proprietary
radiation programs based on empirical values.
The Emissivity (Fraction of heat radiated)
values used in these programs are specific to
equations used and are not interchangeable.
Flame Length vs. Heat release
Flame distortion due to wind velocity
Gases that have high heating value (200-300 BTU/scf) can sustain
combustion on their own without any auxiliary fuel additions.
In some cases addition of auxiliary fuel in the form of fuel gas is necessary.
Dilute NH3 and high CO2 composition gases with small amounts of
H2S are common applications.
Auxiliary Flaring Equipment
Liquid Seals-
Flashback protection- To provide positive protection against
Flame propagation into plant piping.
Maintain +ve header pr- To ensure that a positive pr. is always
maintained on the flare header. Any
leaks in the flare header will result gas
leakage to atmosphere and not air leakage
in the header.
Purge of O
2
free gas-
Prepurge removes any O
2
from stack and continuous purge ensures no air
enters stack during low flow conditions.
To reduce amount of purge gas Diffusion type seal and velocity
Seal are used.
Diffusion type seal- This type of seal uses the difference in molecular weights of the
purge gas and infiltrating air to form a gravity seal which prevents the air from entering into
the stack. A baffled cylinder arrangement forces the incoming air through two 180 Deg bends
(one bend up and one bend down) before it can enter into the flare stack.If the purge gas is
lighter than air the purge gas will accumulate in the top of theseal and prevent air from
infiltrating the system.If the purge gas is heavier than air thepurge gas will accumulate in the
bottom of the seal and prevent air from infiltrating the system.
Velocity Seal- This seal works under the premise that infiltrating air enters through the flare
tip and hugs the inner wall of the flare tip.The velocity seal is cone shaped obstruction with
single or multiple baffles, which forces the air away from the wall where it encounters the
focused purge gas flow and is swept out of the tip.
Purge reduction seals are not flame arrestors;that is they will
not stop flashback. They are energy conservation device to
reduce purge gas flows required to prevent flashback by
reducing air infiltration in the stack.
Flare Type
Elevated Flare
Ground Flare
Selection of Flare type is based on
Available Space
Characteristics of the flare gas (composition, quantity and
pressure)
Economics(investment and operating costs)
Public Relations & Regulations.
Elevated Flare (Most commonly used in Refinery Operation)
Have larger capacities than ground flares.
If adequately elevated, this type of flare has the best dispersion
characteristics for malodorous and toxic combustion products.
Due to steam injection / air injection , it introduces a source of noise and
cause noise pollution.
Capital costs are relatively high.
Appreciable plant area may be rendered unavailable for plant equipment,
because of radiant heat considerations.
Advantage
Disadvantage
Elevated Flare
Ground Flare
A ground flare is where the combustion takes place at ground level.
Self Guyed Derrick
Supported Supported Supported
Types of Flare Support
Self-supported stacks are more expensive than other design, because it need
greater material to ensure structural integrity over the anticipated condition.
Normally the stack height for the self-supported design ranges from 200 to
300ft.
Guy-wire supported is less expensive but it need the largest land due to the
guy wire radius requirements. The radius of guy-wire is equal to 1.5 of the
overall stack height.Guyed stacks with heights from 600 to 800 feet have
been used.
Derrick supported only used when the stack is large (self-supported not
practical) and available land area is limited (guy-wire supported not suitable).
Quenchis also used at times to condense the less volatile
components and reduce the release of hot condensable vapors
to the atmosphere.
Drag Coefficient
Flare gas recovery
Flare gas is treated and routed to FG system
Environmental
Economic
Safety Considerations
Path to flare
Used for both normal and emergency release.
Emergency release should always have path to the flare
Design of flare recovery system should not compromise this path
Necessary for
Safety Considerations (Contd..)
Back Flow
FGRS uses compressors which take suction directly from the flare
header.
The potential for back flow of air from the flare into the compressors
at low flare gas loads must be considered.
Oxygen content of flare gas stream should be measured and
provisions must be made to shut down the flare gas compressor if
potentially dangerous condition exist
Safety Considerations (Contd..)
Flare gas characteristics
Widely varying compositions
Potential for materials which are not compatible to treating system
must be determined.
Streams containing acid gases are routed directly to flare bypassing
recovery system
Design Considerations
Sizing
Seldom sized for emergency flare loads.
Flare loads vary widely over time and the normal rate may be some
average flare load or a frequently encountered maximum load.
Actual loads on these systems will vary widely and they must be
designed to operate over a wide range of dynamically changing loads.
Design Considerations (Contd..)
Location
Typically FGRS are located downstream of all unit header tie-ins
and at a point where header pressure does not vary substantially with
load.
Locations upstream of process unit tie-ins should be carefully
considered because of the potential for back-flow and high-oxygen
concentration.
Design Considerations (Contd..)
Flare Tie-in
A major consideration in FGRS design is preservation of a path to
flare for emergency releases.
FGRS must be designed as a side stream from the flare header.
Main flare flow should not be through a compressor knock out or
suction piping.
The tie-in to the FGRS should come off the top of the flare line to
minimize possibility of liquid ingress.
Most positive and preferred way to prevent air ingress is the
installation of a water seal vessel between flare knock out drumand
flare itself
Alternate method is to use a fail open control valve
Typical Flare Gas Recovery System
Typical Flare Gas Recovery Inlet Pressure
Diagram for Stack Height Calculation
Typical Seal Drum
Typical Quench Drum
Typical Flare Installation
Sizing a Flare Stack:
Problem:
Flow rate of HC vapors = 100000 lbs per hr.
Avg. molecular weight (MW) = 46.1
Temp (T) = 760
0
R (149
0
C)
Compressibility Factor (Z) = 1.0
Heat of Combustion = 21500 Btu/lb
Ratio of specific heat of gas (K) = 1.1
Pr. at Flare tip = 14.7 psia
Design Wind Velocity = 20 miles /hr
= 29.3 ft/sec
Solution:
Flare Diameter:
MACH = (1.702) x (10
-5
) x (W / P
2
D
2
) x (ZT / K x MW )
0.5
For, MACH = 0.2
So, 0.2 = (1.702) x (10
-5
) x (100000/ 14.7 x D
2
) x ( (1x 760) / (1.1) x (46.1) )
0.5
So, D
2
= 2.24
So, D = 1.5 ft (ID)
Flame Length:
Q = (100000) x (21500)
= 2.15 x 10
9
Btu /hr.
From Graph
(Flame Length Vs Heat Release).
L (Flame Length) = 170 ft.
Flame Distortion by Wind Velocity:
Vapor Flow Rate = (100000 / 3600) x (379.1 / 46.1) x (760 /520)
= 334 A ft3 per sec.
Flame Distortion:
Ua = Wind Velocity
Uj Flare Tip Velocity
Uj = Flow / {(3.14)xD
2
/ 4}
= 334 / { 3.14 x (1.5)
2
/ 4} [ For, MACH = 0.2]
=189 ft/sec.
Ua = 29.3
Uj 189
= 0.155
From Graph
∑Dy / L = 0.35
∑Dx / L = 0.85
So, ∑Dy = (0.35) x 170
= 59.5 ft.
So,∑Dx = (0.85) x 170
= 144.5 ft.
Calculation of Stack Height:
D = (TFQ / 4 x 3.14x K)
0.5
[ F=0.3, T =1 The max. allowable radiation at 150ft from
Flare Stack = 2000 (Btr /hr) / sqft]
So, D = (1x (0.3) x (2.15x 10
9
) / 4 x (3.14 )x (2000))
0.5
= 160.2 ft .
Flare Stack Height:
H’ = H + ½ ΣDy
R’ = R - ½ ∑Dx
ΣDx = 144.5 ft
ΣDy = 59.5 ft
R’ = R-½ x (144.5)
=150 – ½ x (144.5)
= 78 ft.
D
2
= R’
2
+ H’
2
H’
2
= D
2
- R’
2
= (160)
2
– (78)
2
= 19516 ft
2
.
So, H’ = 140 ft.
So, H = 140 – ½ ΣD y
= 140 – ½ (59.5)
= 110 ft.
Sizing a Knock out Drum: -
Problem:
Single Contingency results in the flow of 200000 lbs/hr of a fluid
Liquid density of 31 lbs /ft3 & vapor density of 0.18 lb /ft3.
Pr = 2 psi.
Viscosity of Vapor = 0.01 Cp
Fluid Equilibrium results in 31000 lbs per hr of liquid & 169000 lbs per hr of vapor.
In addition 500 gallous of storage for miscellaneous draining from the units is desired.
The droplet size selected as allowable is 0.000984 ft in diameter.
Solution:

Vapor Rate (Rv) = 169000 lbs / hr
(3600 sec. /hr) x (0.18 lbs/ft
3
)

= 261 ft3 /sec
P
V
P
L

Drag Coefficient (C) → from graph D P
V


C (R
C
)
2
= 0.95 x 10
8
x (0.18 )x (0.000984)
3
(31-0.18)
(0.01)
2

= 5021.
So, C from graph = 1.3
Drop Out Velocity (V
C
):

U
C
= { (g
D

L -
ρ
V
) / ρ
V
x C )
0.5
}x 1.15
= {((32.2) x(0.000984)x(31-0.18) / (0.18)x(1.3))
0.5
} x 1.15
= 2.35

A horizontal vessel with an inside diameter Di and a cylindrical length L should be
assumed,

A
t
(Cross – Section Area) = π/4 (Di)
2

A
L1
= ((500 gallous) /(7.48 gallous per ft
3
)) x (1/L)

Considering liquid hold up of 30 minutes during emergency,

A
L2
= (31000 lbs per hr / 31 lbs per ft
3
) x (30 minutes / 60 min per hr) x (1/L)

The cross sectional area for the remaining vapor flow,

A
V
= A
T
- (A
L1
+ A
L2
).

h
L1
= Depth of slops & Drains.
h
L1
+ h
L2
= Depth of all liquid accumulator.
h
V
= Remaining metrical space for the vapor flow.
h
t
= Total drum diameter = h
L1
+ h
L2
+h
r


θ (Liquid Dropout time, in seconds) = (h
V
/ 12 inches per ft) x (1/ V
L
ft per sec.)
U
V
(Vapor Velocity in ft per sec) = (260 ft3 per sec / A
V
ft
2
)

DRUM LENGTH (L
MIN
) = (U
V
ft /sec) x (θ secs.)

L
MIN
should be less than or equal to the assumed drum length ‘L’. Other wise the
calculation must be repeated with a newly assumed cylinder length.

Assume d
MIN
inside dia = 8 ft
Assumed d
MIN
length = 19 ft

A
T
= 50.26 ft
2

A
L1
= 3.25 ft
2
→ h
L1
= 11.25 inches.
A
L2
= 26.32 ft
2
→ h
L1
+ h
L2
= 55 inches.
A
V
= 20. 69 ft
2
→ h
V
= 41 inches.
h
t
= 96 inches.

Liquid dropout time θ (sec) = 1.45.
Vapor velocity U
V
(ft/sec) = 12.73.
Require Drum Length L
MIN
(ft) = 18.5
Modes of Flare Failure
•Flow Restriction
•Failure to burn
•Mechanical Failure
Modes of Flare Failure (Contd..)
Failure to burn can be caused by loss of pilot functioning.
Pilot failure can often be traced to a failure of the pilot gas
Supply system rather than pilot itself.
Modes of Flare Failure (Contd..)