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GAP Guidelines

GAP.8.0.1.1
June 2, 2003

A Publication of Global Asset Protection Services

OIL AND CHEMICAL PROPERTIES


LOSS POTENTIAL ESTIMATION GUIDE
INTRODUCTION
Global Asset Protection Services (GAP Services) develops a Probable Maximum Loss (PML) for
each risk. This PML is estimated considering reasonably adverse conditions which might exist at the
time of the loss with due regard to the size, location of the plant, construction, partial cutoffs,
occupancy, protection of hazards, exposure protection installations, public protection, and any other
factors pertinent to the risk involved.
Within the scope of this definition, PMLs can be established for oil and chemical properties utilizing
one of four types of postulated incidents:

fires
building explosions
vapor cloud explosions
vessel explosions

Of course, any risk may possess the potential for one or more of these incident types.
This GAP Guideline describes a method used by GAP Services for estimating the loss potential in oil
and chemical properties that can be used in establishing PMLs. A method for estimating the
catastrophic loss potential from a vapor cloud explosion is also given.
This GAP Guideline should be used for property loss prevention purposes only and should not be
used for designing or siting blast resistant buildings or for specifying personnel protection.

FIRES AND INTERNAL BUILDING EXPLOSIONS


Loss estimates based on vessel or vapor cloud explosions lend themselves to a rigorous analysis
method. Fires, however, must be analyzed more subjectively. The guidance contained in this section
is therefore limited to a listing of the factors which must be considered in arriving at a description of
the postulated fire or building explosion incident, and the loss estimate based on that incident. Some
of the factors which must be considered are:

The amount of material which might be spilled and the nature of the failure which would cause this
spill.

The physical properties of the material and the operating conditions of the process, such as
temperature and pressure.

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Copyright 2003, Global Asset Protection Services

Global Asset Protection Services and its affiliated organizations provide loss prevention surveys and other risk management, business continuity and facility asset
management services. Unless otherwise stated in writing, our personnel, publications, services, and surveys do not address life safety or third party liability issues. The
provision of any service is not meant to imply that every possible hazard has been identified at a facility or that no other hazards exist. Global Asset Protection Services and its
affiliated organizations do not assume, and shall have no liability for the control, correction, continuation or modification of any existing conditions or operations. We
specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that compliance with any advice or recommendation in any document or other communication will make a facility or
operation safe or healthful, or put it in compliance with any law, rule or regulation. If there are any questions concerning any recommendations, or if you have alternative
solutions, please contact us.

GAP.8.0.1.1
June 2, 2003

The reactivity of process materials.


The protection features in the effected area, such as:

Fireproofing of structural steel and vessel supports.


Drainage and diking in the area.
Automatic or manual water spray.
Monitor nozzles or hand hose protection.
Foam protection.
Fire brigade.
Public fire department or mutual aid assistance.

Spacing between units or provision of blast-resistant walls.


Past experience with similar units.

All of the foregoing factors should be considered, and it should be kept in mind that the loss estimated
must be based on reasonably adverse conditions. The estimate should consider the effect of the
impairment of one form of active protection, such as water spray, foam, or drainage. Obviously,
passive protection features, such as spacing, fireproofing, and diking are not subject to impairment
simultaneous with a loss.
Generally speaking, where good drainage (more than one direction) or diversionary diking is utilized
to prevent the spread of flammables, and the spacing is in accordance with GAP.2.5.2 the loss
estimate should be based on major damage to the production units within the drainage/diking zone.
Some damage would be expected to surrounding units from radiation. Missile damage from exploding
vessels is generally not to be considered as a PML incident.
As with analysis of a postulated fire incident, internal building explosions cannot be rigorously
analyzed. The release of flammable liquids or gases into a building, with subsequent ignition and
explosion, will result in destruction of the building. Possible damage to nearby buildings should be
considered. Subsequent fires from broken piping would also be a factor. Automatic sprinkler
protection would most likely be rendered inoperative from an internal building explosion. The degree
of damage anticipated from a building fire with one or more sprinkler systems out-of- service
(reasonably adverse conditions) and an internal building explosion with subsequent damage to the
sprinkler system would be similar.

VAPOR CLOUD EXPLOSIONS


Background
For many years, it was believed that in order for the combustion of flammable gases or vapors to
create pressure, the combustion reaction must be confined. Therefore, it was considered only a fire
problem to release quantities of flammable gases or hot flammable liquids in open areas. The
potential for explosion was not considered even though a number of open-air vapor cloud explosions
had occurred as early as 1948.
GAP Services recognized, in the early 1960s, that the spillage of large quantities of flammable gases
could result in an open-air vapor cloud explosion that could cause damage due to overpressure to
wide areas of plant properties. A method of calculating the approximate damage potential was
formulated and used to establish PML estimates based on spills of flammable gases. Other losses

GAP Guidelines
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A Publication of Global Asset Protection Services

GAP.8.0.1.1
June 2, 2003
have shown a need to include hot flammable liquid spills and a method of establishing the
catastrophic loss potential of a vapor cloud explosion. The initial incident is assumed to be the spilling
of a large quantity of flammable materials. It is highly probable that a large spill will become ignited.
The reasonably adverse condition assumed is that the ignition of the cloud will propagate to an
unconfined vapor cloud explosion. Thus, it is not necessary to assume that any fire protection
facilities will be impaired prior to the ignition. These facilities may be damaged and impaired,
however, due to the explosion.

Assumptions
GAP Services uses a reasonably simple vapor cloud explosion potential model. A number of papers
have been written in recent years that define the vapor cloud explosion phenomenon to a finer degree
than is used in this calculation method. These papers provide methods of analyzing losses after they
occur by considering variables such as spill rate, wind velocity, direction, other atmospheric
conditions, reactivity of the spilled material, amount of obstructions and partial confinement within the
cloud.
In predicting the loss potential, these variables are generally unknown and a conservative and
practical approach must be chosen which will reduce these variables to little or no consequence.
Therefore, the following assumptions are made in this calculation method:

The spill is instantaneous and leak rate is not considered. The one exception to this is a spill from
a pipeline fed by large capacity remote storage facilities.

The spilled material is instantaneously vaporized and a cloud is immediately formed based on the
thermodynamic conditions of the flammable liquid or gas prior to release. For example, spills of
liquefied gases are assumed to fully vaporize instantaneously with no autorefrigeration of the liquid
pool.

The cloud formed is cylindrically shaped with a vertical axis as the cloud height. Wind distortion
and distortion due to the presence of buildings or structures are not considered.

The cloud composition is assumed to be of uniform composition with the vapor-air mixture being at
the midpoint of the explosive range.

A heat of combustion of 2000 Btu/lb (4648 kJ/kg) for TNT is used to convert the heat of
combustion of the material to an equivalent weight of TNT.

An ambient temperature of 70F (21C) is assumed.

It is recognized that explosion of a confined vapor-air mixture in a building will result in greater
explosive efficiency than the unconfined explosion of the same volume of vapor-air mixture. However,
in most cases, the volume occupied by the open-air cloud from most credible spills will be much
greater than the volume of most buildings. Therefore, a spill which originates inside of a building
should be assumed to form the same size and shape cloud as if the spill occurred in the open.

Factors Determining The Need For A Vapor Cloud Analysis


Only the following materials are to be considered as having a vapor cloud potential for the purposes
of this calculation:

Flammable gases existing as liquid because of refrigeration. Spills of liquefied anhydrous


ammonia, when confined by natural or artificial dikes such that the spilled liquid will pool, are not
considered.

Flammable gases existing as a liquid because of the application of pressure.

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A Publication of Global Asset Protection Services

GAP.8.0.1.1
June 2, 2003

Flammable gases existing under a pressure of 500 psig (34.5 bar) or higher.
Flammable or combustible liquids existing above the atmospheric boiling point and maintained as
a liquid because of the application of pressure. Materials which have a viscosity greater than
1 106 centipoises or a melting point above 212F (100C) are not considered to be liquids within
the scope of this calculation method. Liquids in the process at temperatures above their
autoignition temperatures should not be considered as having a vapor cloud potential since they
will ignite upon contact with air.

CALCULATION METHOD
Throughout these calculations, units from both the English system and the SI (International System of
Units) are used in the same equation. This is due to the availability of data from the sources indicated
in the references.

Choice Of Credible Spill For Probable Maximum Loss


For purpose of PML analysis of a plant with a vapor cloud hazard, the following criteria for estimating
the size of a spill should be used:

The size of a spill is based on the contents of the largest process vessel or train of process
vessels connected together and not readily isolated. Shut-off valves which are actuated both
automatically and manually from a remote location may be considered in reducing the size of the
estimated spill. Automatic dump or flare systems, if safely arranged, may be considered in
reducing the size of the spill. Shut-off valves and dump and flare systems may only be considered
in limiting the spill from vessels connected to the largest process vessel. The minimum spill
source to be used is the largest process vessel. The largest spill does not always present the
largest vapor cloud potential, smaller spills of light products can create a larger vapor cloud.

The existence of ignition sources may not be used in reducing the cloud size. The total amount
which might be spilled must be used in estimating the cloud size. Loss experience has shown that
large clouds may be formed without ignition by nearby ignition sources.

Gases or liquids used as fuels are not considered, based on loss experience.
The failure of a major storage tank is not considered, based on loss experience.
The failure of a major pipeline is not considered.

Choice Of Credible Spill For Catastrophic Loss Potential


For purposes of estimating the catastrophic loss potential in a plant having a vapor cloud hazard, the
following criteria for estimating the size of a spill should be used:

The size of a spill should be based on the contents vessels or train of vessels connected together
and having the largest vapor cloud potential. The existence of shut-off valves should not be
considered.

The catastrophic failure of major storage tanks should be considered.


Leaks in pipelines carrying materials of concern from large capacity, off-site, remote, storage
facilities owned by the insured or others must be considered. For this purpose, assume that the
pipeline is completely severed and that the spill will run for 30 min. This 30 min limit is based on
the assumed existence of multiple, widely separated, shutoff valves.

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GAP.8.0.1.1
June 2, 2003

The existence of ignition sources may not be used in reducing the cloud size. The total amount
which might be spilled must be used in estimating the cloud size. Loss experience has shown that
large clouds may be formed without ignition by nearby ignition sources.

Gases or liquids used as fuels should be considered.

Calculation Of Weight Of Material In System


If the material exists in the system as a gas at a pressure of 500 psig (34.5 bar) or greater, the weight
of material may be calculated as follows:
WG = n M

(1)

where:
WG = weight of gas discharged
n = number of moles of gas
M = molecular weight of gas calculated from atomic weights
According to the Gay-Lussac perfect gases law:
n=

PV
RT

(2)

where:
P=

pressure of gas in process

V=

volume of gas in process

R=

gas constant (10.73 psi-ft3/R-lb-mole) (0.08314 bar-m3/K-kg-mole)

T=

temperature of gas in process

Therefore:
WG =

MPV
RT

(3)

English Units, the following units should be used in equation 3:


WG (lb ) =

MP ( psia ) V (ft 3 )
10.73 (T ( o F ) + 460)

(3E)

SI Units, the following units should be used in equation 3:


WG (kg ) =

MP (bar ) V (m 3 )
0.08314 (T ( o C + 273))

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(3S)

GAP.8.0.1.1
June 2, 2003
If the material exists in the system as a liquid, the weight of the liquid may be calculated as follows:
WL = VL

(4)

where:
WL =

weight of liquid spilled

liquid density of material at process temperature (Gallant1)

VL =

volume of liquid spilled

English Units, the following units should be used in equation 4:


WL(lb) = (g/mL)VL(gal)

(4E)

SI Units, the following units should be used in equation 4:


W L (kg ) =

( g mL ) VL (m 3 )
1000

(4S)

Calculation Of Liquid Vaporized


For liquefied gases having an atmospheric boiling point less than 70F (21.1C), assume that 100%
will be vaporized and use either WG or WL calculated in equations 3 and 4 as W in equations 9, 10,
and 11.
For liquids having an atmospheric boiling point above 70F (21.1C), the following relationship may
be used to determine the amount vaporized:
WV =

W L C pm (T1 T 2 )

(5)

H v

where:
Wv =

weight of vapor formed following the spill

WL =

weight of liquid spilled

Cpm =

geometric mean of specific heats over the range T1 to T2. The geometric mean of
the specific heats over the range T1 to T2 may be calculated from:
Cpm = (C1 x C2 x x Cpn)!/n
where:
C1, C2, C3, .Cpn are values of Cp taken at equal intervals between T1 and T2
(Gallant)

T1 =

temperature of the liquid in the process or boiling point of the liquid at process
pressure, whichever is less (Gallant)

T2 =

atmospheric boiling point of the liquid (Gallant)

Hv =

heat of vaporization of the liquid at temperature T2 (Gallant)

GAP Guidelines
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A Publication of Global Asset Protection Services

GAP.8.0.1.1
June 2, 2003
English units:
WV (lb ) =

WV (lb ) =

WL (lb ) C pm

cal

Hv

( )

C (T1 T2 ) o C

(cal g )

( )

(5E)

o
o
5 WL (lb )C pm cal g C (T1T2 ) F

9
Hv cal g

(5E')

WL (kg )C pm ( kJ g o K ) (T1 T2 ) ( oC )

(5S)

( )

SI Units:
WV (kg ) =

v ( kJ kg )
(l kJ kg o K =0.2389cal g o C )

Calculation Of Energy Released


The energy released in an explosion of the vapor cloud may now be estimated. This energy release is
normally expressed as a TNT equivalent. Thus, based on a heat of combustion for TNT of
2000 Btu/lb (4648 kJ/kg), the following may be used to calculate a TNT equivalent for a vapor cloud
containing a known weight of flammable gas of vapor:
We =

W H c
H ce

(6)

where:
We =

Weight of TNT which will produce an explosive force equivalent to the force
produced by explosion of the vapor cloud.

Hce =

Heat of combustion of TNT (2000 Btu/lb)(4648 kJ/kg)

W=

Weight of vapor in cloud

Hc =

Heat of combustion of vapor (Perry,2 NFPA Handbook3) Use the values for gaseous
products of CO2 and H2O. Other heats of combustion may be calculated from
available heat of formation data.

f=

Explosive yield factor. Published information indicates that the explosive yield factor
f, for spillage explosions of rocket propellants and liquid oxygen, initiated at no time
delay, is about 0.1. Analysis of actual chemical plant vapor cloud explosions
indicates f values in the range of 0.01 to 0.05. In establishing probable maximum
loss estimates (PMLs) and catastrophic loss estimates, a f value of 0.02 should be
used.

GAP Guidelines
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A Publication of Global Asset Protection Services

GAP.8.0.1.1
June 2, 2003
English Units:
W ( lb ) c

We (ton ) =

(Btu lb )
(6E)

4 10 6

SI Units:
W e (kg ) =

W (kg ) H c

(kJ kg )

4648

W e ( ton) =

W (kg )H c

(kJ kg )

4,216,573

(6S)

The equivalent weight of TNT is expressed in tons as explosion damage tables are given in tons
(1 ton = 2000 lb).

Calculation Of Diameter Of Overpressure Circles


From the scaling law, overpressure distances are calculated:
d (W e )
=
d 1 (W1 )

1
3

(7)

d =d 1(W e )

(8)

where:
d=

distance from the explosion of W kilotons

d1 =

distance from explosion of 1 kiloton of TNT (2 106 lb)

W1 =

equivalent weight of 1 kiloton of TNT

We =

equivalent weight of TNT (kilotons TNT)

This relationship has been reduced to a graph (Figure 1) which may be used to determine the
overpressure circle diameters. In Figure 1, a conversion has been made from kilotons TNT to tons
TNT. No metricated graph is available.
For establishing the PML, the maximum overpressure to be used is 5 psi (0.35 bar). Current theory
suggests that overpressures up to 15 psi (1 bar) should be establishing catastrophic loss potential
estimates.

Determination Of Damage
Tables 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D and 2 are to be used in determining the extent of damage from explosion of a
vapor cloud. These tables are based on overpressure damage only and do not consider the
possibility of major damage from ensuing fire. If there is a possibility of an ensuing fire of long
duration because of large volumes of flammable liquid holdup in processes, the ensuing fire must be
considered. Within the 5 psi (0.35 bar) circle blast damage will probably result in total destruction of
most processing units. Damage within this area should be considered as 100%.

GAP Guidelines
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A Publication of Global Asset Protection Services

Figure 1. Diameter Of Overpressure Circles For Various Yields.

GAP.8.0.1.1
June 2, 2003

GAP Guidelines
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A Publication of Global Asset Protection Services

GAP.8.0.1.1
June 2, 2003
TABLE 1A
Summary of Blast Damage To Structures
Overpressures
(psi)
0.5
1.0

1.5

3.5

Controlhouses
Steel Roof
Precast
Decking and
Concrete Roof
No Frame
and Steel
Frame

Steel Frame
bet. Vessels

Crude Units
Atmos./Vacuum Towers
Fractionator Towers
Rectangular
Octagonal
Rectangular Mounted on
Conc. Frame Conc. Frame Conc. Frame
Conc.
Pedestal

Windows shatter Windows


shatter
Roof collapse
Frame
deformation
(switchgear
room)
Roof collapse
Roof collapse
(control room)
(all rooms)
West
BlastPartial roof
collapse (control
room) North and
South blast
Conc. block
Conc. block
walls fail
walls fail

NOTE:
Atmospheric
Vacuum
Towers

NOTE:
Vacuum
Towers only

Conc.
brackets fail
causing
frame
collapse

4.5

Anchor bolts
yielding

5.0
5.5

Conc. frame
cracking
Conc. frame
collapse

7.0
7.5

8.0
8.5
10.0

Conc. frame
cracking
Vessel
anchor
bolts fail
causing
frame
collapse

Conc. frame
cracking
Conc. frame
collapse

Vessel &
foundation
overturn

Steel frame
collapse

12.0
16.0
Source:

Minimize Damage to Refineries From Nuclear Attack, National And Other Disasters, The Office Of Oil & Gas, U.S.
Dept. Of The Interior; February 1970

GAP Guidelines
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A Publication of Global Asset Protection Services

GAP.8.0.1.1
June 2, 2003
TABLE 1B
Summary Of Blast Damage To Structures
Overpressures
(psi)

Fluid Catalytic Cracking Units (FCCU)


Regenerator Tower
Reactor Tower
Rectangular Steel Rectangular Conc. Rectangular Steel Rectangular Conc.
Frame
Frame
Frame
Frame

00.5
01.0
01.5

03.5
04.5
05.0

05.5
07.0

NOTE:
Reactor &
Fractionator
supported by
same frame

Anchor bolts
yielding

Leeward
columns buckle
East or West
blast
Overturns
Easterly blast

Leeward cols.
buckle. East
blast
Leeward cols.
buckle. West
blast

07.5

08.0
08.5

Overturns
Westerly blast

Source:

Overturns
Anchor bolts fail

Concrete frame
cracking
Conc. frame
cracking

10.0
12.0
16.0

Fractionator Tower
Mounted on
Conc. Pedestal

Steel frame
overturns

Conc. frame
collapse

Conc. frame
collapse

Minimize Damage to Refineries From Nuclear Attack, National And Other Disasters, The Office Of Oil & Gas, U.S.
Dept. Of The Interior; February 1970

GAP Guidelines
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A Publication of Global Asset Protection Services

GAP.8.0.1.1
June 2, 2003
TABLE 1C
Summary Of Blast Damage To Structures
Overpressure
(psi)

Light Ends Units


Deisobutanizer

Vapor
Recovery Unit

Mounted on
Pedestal
and Large
Footing

Rectangular
Steel
Frame

Furnaces - Pipe Still

Atmospheric

Maintenance
Building

Corrugated
Asbestos
Siding fails
Moves
slightly
from
original
position

Guyed

Corrugated
Asbestos
Louvers fail

Moves
slightly
from
original
position

02.0
03.0

Steel frame
deformation

03.5

Steel
frame
overturns
Blast
diagonally<
oriented.
Tower
collapses

04.0

Steel
frame
overturns.
Blast
squarely
oriented

05.0

06.0

Steel frame
collapse.

06.5
07.0
07.5
09.0
09.5

Flares

Tower
Supported

Vacuum

00.3

01.5

Water
Cooling
Tower

Stacks
collapse
Steel frame
collapse

Stacks
collapse
Steel frame
collapse

Brick walls
collapse.
Severe
frame
deformation.
Steel frame
collapses

Vessel
overturns

10.0
10.5
11.0

Collapse
above
middle
collar
Complete
collapse

15.0
20.0
Source:

Minimize Damage to Refineries From Nuclear Attack, National And Other Disasters, The Office Of Oil & Gas, U.S.
Dept. Of The Interior; February 1970

GAP Guidelines
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GAP.8.0.1.1
June 2, 2003

TABLE 1D
Summary Of Blast Damage To Structures
Overpressure
(psi)

Pipe Bands
Steel Frame
Concrete
Frame

Boiler Stack
F.C.C. Unit

00.3
01.5

Tile walls
fail

Steel frame
deformation

04.0
05.0

06.0
06.5

07.0

Bulk
Terminal

Roof of
Admin.
Bldg.
collapses.
Cone roofs
of tanks
collapse

Cone Roof

Storage Tanks
Floating Roof

Empty
tank
uplift

Empty
tank
uplift

Concrete
frame
cracking
Concrete
frame
collapse

Steel frame
collapse
Stack and
foundation
overturn

Tanks uplift
(0.5 to 0.9)
filled)
Steel frame
deformation

Support
deformation
(full)
support
Support
deformation
(empty)
Overturns
(full)
Overturns
(empty)

07.5

09.0
09.5

Steel frame
collapse

10.0
10.5
11.0
15.0
20.0
Source:

Spherical

Tanks 0.5 & 0.9 filled) uplift


over this range depending on
height-to-diameter ratio and
diameter of tank.

02.0
Bulk
Terminal
03.0
03.5

TEL
Building

Roof
collapse
Minimize Damage to Refineries From Nuclear Attack, National And Other Disasters, The Office Of Oil & Gas, U.S. Dept.
Of The Interior; February 1970

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GAP.8.0.1.1
June 2, 2003
TABLE 2
Blast Overpressure Effects On Vulnerable Refinery Parts
E Q U IP M E N T

0 .5

1 .0

1 .5

C O N T R O L H O U S E
S T E E L R O O F
A

C O N T R O L H O U S E
C O N C R E T E R O O F
A

E P

C O O L IN G

T O W E R

T A N K : C O N E R O O F
IN S T R U M E N T
C U B IC L E

2 .0

2 .5

3 .0

3 .5

4 .0

4 .5

F
D

7 .5

8 .0

8 .5

9 .0

>
9 .5 1 0 .0 1 2 .0 1 4 .0 1 6 .0 1 8 .0 2 0 .0 2 0 .0

L M

I
G

P
I

F
V

IP

P IP E S U P P O R T S

D
U

T
I

S O
P

U T IL IT IE S : G A S
M E T E R
U T IL IT IE S : E L E C T R IC T R A N S F O R M E R

R E A C T O R
C R A C K IN G

Q
H
L
T
L
H

E L E C T R IC M O T O R

B L O W E R
F R A C T IO N A T IO N
C O L U M N

T
R

P R E S S U R E V E S S E L :
H O R IZ O N T A L

T
T

P I
I

U T IL IT IE S : G A S
R E G U L A T O R
E X T R A C T IO N
C O L U M N
S T E A M

7 .0

T A N K F L O A T IN G
R O O F

6 .0 6 .5

R E A C T O R
C H E M IC A L

R E G E N E R A T O R

5 .5

F IR E D H E A T E R

F IL T E R

5 .0

M Q
I

V
I

T U R B IN E

V
S

T
I

H E A T E X C H A N G E R

T A N K : S P H E R E

P R E S S U R E V E S S E L :
V E R T IC A L
I

P U M P

T
V

Code
A.
B.
C.
D.
E.
F.
G.
H.
I.
J.
K.

L.
M.
N.
O.
P.
Q.
R.
S.
T.
U.
V.

Windows and gauges break


Louvers fall at 0.3-0.5 psi
Switchgear is damaged from roof collapse
Roof collapses
Instruments are damaged
Inner parts are damaged
Brick cracks
Debris-missile damage occurs
Unit moves and pipes break
Bracing fails
Unit uplifts (half-filled)

Power lines are severed


Controls are damaged
Block walls fail
Frame collapses
Frame deforms
Case is damaged
Frame cracks
Piping breaks
Unit overturns or is destroyed
Unit uplifts (0.9 filled)
Unit moves on foundation

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GAP.8.0.1.1
June 2, 2003
Outside of the 5 psi (0.35 bar) circle (but within the 3 psi (0.21 bar) circle) blast damage should be
considered to be a minimum of 70%. There is also a definite chance of broken piping leading to
ensuing fire. Sprinkler and waterspray systems will be damaged if not of proper explosion resistant
design which should include the following:

Welded flange piping


Barricading of control valves
Location of main risers and feed mains behind structural members

Outside of the 3 psi (0.21 bar) circle (but within the 1 psi (0.07 bar) circle), the blast damage will be a
minimum of 40%. There is less chance of broken piping and ensuing fire in modern plants, but the
possibility should be considered.

Calculation Of Cloud Size


The volume occupied by the cloud, assuming that the cloud has a cylindrical shape, can be
calculated as follows:
2

D h
Vc =

c
4

(9)

where:
Vc =

volume of vapor cloud

Dc =

diameter of vapor cloud

h=

height of vapor cloud

If the cloud is assumed to be at the midpoint of the flammable range and at atmospheric conditions:
M Patm Vc
W
=
u
R Tatm

(10)

where:
W=

weight of vapor in cloud

Patm =

atmospheric pressure (14.7 psia)(1.013 bar)

Tatm =

atmospheric temperature (70F + 460 = 530R) (21.1C + 273 = 294.1K)

R=

gas constant (10.73 psi-ft3/R-lb-mole) (0.08314 bar-m3/K-kg-mole)

u=

fraction of the cloud represented by vapor when the entire cloud is at the midpoint of
the flammable range. u is calculated from an average of the lower flammable limit
(LFL) and the upper flammable limit (UFL):
u=

LFL(%vol ) + UFL(%vol )
2 100%

By substituting equation 10 in equation 9 and solving for Dc, the approximate size of the resulting
vapor cloud may be calculated as follows (assuming that the vapor is heavier than air at its
atmospheric boiling point):

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(11)

GAP.8.0.1.1
June 2, 2003

Dc

4 R T atm

Patm

W
Muh

(12)

For gases that are lighter than air at their atmospheric boiling point, the size of the vapor cloud has no
meaning within the scope of this guide and should not be calculated.
English Units:

Dc (ft ) = 22.19

W ( lb )
M h (ft )

(12E)

W ( kg )
M h( m )

(12S)

SI Units:

Dc (m ) = 5 .544

Many cases have shown that a leak at low pressure will form a drifting vapor cloud about 10 ft
(3.05 m) high or deep.
Equations 12E and 12S can be reduced to:
English Units:

Dc (ft ) = 7.017

W ( lb )
M

(13E)

W ( kg )
M

(13S)

SI Units:

Dc (m ) = 3.174

If there is a reason to believe that a different cloud height is likely, a different height value can be
used. For example, discharge at a high point or a high pressure, directed upwards, may result in a
deeper cloud.
A sample calculation of a vapor cloud explosion loss estimate is shown in GAP.8.0.1.1.A.

VESSEL EXPLOSIONS
Background
Explosion of a vessel in a process unit can cause extensive damage to the process unit and
surrounding buildings, structures, and equipment. The intensity of the explosion is dependent upon
the size and ultimate failure pressure of the vessel. The driving force for the explosion is not
important. The cause of the overpressure can be runaway chemical reaction, overheating, or plugged
or inadequate vent facilities.
The process conditions or fire conditions which lead to the vessel failure are considered to be the
initial incident. The fact that a major process vessel ruptures explosively at its failure point is
considered to be a reasonably adverse condition. Thus, it is not necessary to assume that any fire

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GAP.8.0.1.1
June 2, 2003
protection facilities will be impaired prior to ignition. Damage and impairment, however, may occur
due to the explosion.

Selection Of Vessel Giving Maximum Loss


Since the size, ultimate failure and pressure, and location of the exploding vessel are variables in the
calculated loss estimate, it is possible that a number of calculations must be made to determine the
maximum loss potential. This method cannot be used to evaluate the rupture of a long tubular or a
pipeline reactor.

Calculation Method
The TNT equivalent of the potential energy of a gas above ambient temperature and stored at
pressure can be calculated by the textbook formula for isothermal expansion:
E = n R T ln

1
P2

(14)

where:
E = energy of isothermal expansion
n = number of moles of gas
R = gas constant
T = gas temperature
P1 = initial pressure
P2 = final pressure after expansion
The number of moles of gas contained in a given vessel can be determined using the Ideal Gas
Law:
PV = RT

(15)

Therefore, equation 14 can be written as follows:


E = P1V ln

P1
P2

(16)

where:
E = energy of isothermal expansion
P1 = maximum pressure of vessel at failure
V = volume of gas in vessel
P2 = final pressure after expansion
The energy released in a vessel explosion may now be estimated. This energy release is normally
expressed as a TNT equivalent. Thus, based on the heat of combustion for TNT of 2000 Btu/lb
(4648 kJ/kg), the following equation may be used to calculate a TNT equivalent for a vessel
explosion:

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June 2, 2003

We =

PV P
E
= 1 ln 1
ce
ce P2

(17)

where:
We =

Weight of TNT which will produce an explosive force equivalent to the force
produced by explosion of the vessel.

Hce =

Heat of combustion of TNT (2000 Btu/lb)(4648 kJ/kg)

A simplified form of equation 17 can be used since the expansion of the gas is into the open air
(P2 = Patm):
We =

P1V
P
E
=
ln 1
ce
ce P atm

(18)

English Units:
E (Btu ) = 0.185P1 ( psia ) V (ft 3 ) ln

P1 ( psia )
14.7

W e (tons ) = 4.63 10 8 P1 ( psia ) V (ft 3 ) ln

P1 ( psia )
14.7

(17E)

(18E)

SI Units:
E (bar ) = 1 10 5 P1 (bar ) V (m 3 ) ln

W e (kg ) =

P1 (bar )
1.013

(17S)

1 10 5 P1 (bar ) V (m 3 ) P1 (bar )
ln
1.013
4,648,000

W e (tons ) = 2.37 10 5 P1 (bar ) V (m 3 ) ln

P1 (bar )
1.013

(19S)

The maximum pressure of the vessel at failure P1 should be, in most cases, the maximum failure
pressure of the vessel for a runaway reaction where vent facilities are plugged or overtaxed. The
pressure at which the vessel will fail is often approximately four times the maximum working pressure
of the vessel. However, if lower or higher design safety factors were used and can be documented,
the actual multiplier should be used.
It is conceded that vessels also fail for reasons other than simple overpressure. Mechanical failure
due to overheating or corrosion/erosion thinning can result in failure at pressures at or below the
normal working pressure of the vessel. However, the use of the maximum yield pressure of the vessel
will give a conservative result.
The value of We obtained is then used with the graph in Figure 1 to determine the diameter of the
overpressure circles. As with the vapor cloud calculation, the maximum overpressure assumed is

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June 2, 2003
5 psi (0.35 bar). Determination of damage from explosion and ensuing fire should be done utilizing
the minimum damage amounts outlined for vapor cloud explosions.
A sample calculation is shown in GAP.8.0.1.1.B.
GAP Guidelines Referenced
GAP.2.5.2

Plant Layout And Spacing For Oil And Chemical Plants.

REFERENCES
1.

R. W. Gallant, Physical Properties Of Hydrocarbons, Volumes 1 & 2, Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, TX.

2.

R. H. Perry, D. Green, Perrys Chemical Engineers Handbook, 6th edition, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, NY.

3.

NFPA Handbook, 16th edition, Section 5, Chapter H, National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA.

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