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GCPS 2010 __________________________________________________________________________

Update of Guidelines to Vapor Cloud Explosion, Pressure Vessel Burst, BLEVE and Flash Fire Hazards
Quentin A. Baker Baker Engineering and Risk Consultants, Inc. 3330 Oakwell Court, Suite 100 San Antonio, TX 78218 (210) 824-5960 QBaker@BakerRisk.com Adrian J. Pierorazio BakerRisk Canada 5515 North Service Road, Suite 304 Burlington, Ontario L7L 6G4 Canada (289) 288-0100 AdrianP@BakerRisk.com John L. Woodward, Ph.D. Baker Engineering and Risk Consultants, Inc. 3330 Oakwell Court, Suite 100 San Antonio, TX 78218 (210) 824-5960 JWoodward@BakerRisk.com Ming Jun Tang, Ph.D. Baker Engineering and Risk Consultants, Inc. 3330 Oakwell Court, Suite 100 San Antonio, TX 78218 (210) 824-5960 MTang@BakerRisk.com

GCPS 2010 __________________________________________________________________________

Prepared for Presentation at American Institute of Chemical Engineers 2010 Spring Meeting 6th Global Congress on Process Safety San Antonio, Texas March 22-24, 2010

UNPUBLISHED

AIChE shall not be responsible for statements or opinions contained in papers or printed in its publications

GCPS 2010 __________________________________________________________________________

Update of Guidelines to Vapor Cloud Explosion, Pressure Vessel Burst, BLEVE and Flash Fire Hazards
Quentin A. Baker Baker Engineering and Risk Consultants, Inc. 3330 Oakwell Court, Suite 100 San Antonio, TX 78218 210-824-5960 QBaker@BakerRisk.com Adrian J. Pierorazio BakerRisk Canada John L. Woodward, Ph.D. Baker Engineering and Risk Consultants, Inc. Ming Jun Tang, Ph.D. Baker Engineering and Risk Consultants, Inc.

Keywords: Vapor cloud explosion, VCE, pressure vessel burst, PVB, boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion, BLEVE, flash fire

Abstract
The first edition of the CCPS book Guidelines to Evaluating Vapor Cloud Explosions, Flash Fires and BLEVEs was published in 1994. Since that time there have been considerable advances in research for these types of explosions and fires, and hazard prediction methods have improved. The second edition was completed in October 2010. It is a major revision of the Guideline with contents completely reorganized, recent research results added, revised and new prediction methods inserted, and sampled problems worked for each prediction method. The treatment of pressure vessel burst was expanded and placed in a dedicated chapter, resulting in a new name for the book as shown in the paper title. 1. Introduction The second edition is intended to provide methods for practicing engineers to estimate the characteristics of a flash fire, vapor cloud explosion (VCE), pressure vessel burst (PVB), or boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion (BLEVEs). Knowledge of the consequences of flash fires, VCEs, PVBs, and BLEVEs has grown significantly in recent years as a result of international study and research efforts, and incident investigations. Insights gained regarding the generation of overpressure, thermal radiation, and fragmentation has resulted in the development of reasonably descriptive models for calculating the effects of these phenomena.

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The book summarizes and evaluates these methods, identifies areas in which information is lacking, and provides an overview of ongoing work in the field. The arrangement of this book is considerably different from previous editions, including separating pressure vessel bursts into its own chapter. The book remains the most in-depth technical material produced in a CCPS project. The phenomena of each type of hazard (i.e., VCEs, PVBs, BLEVEs, and flash fires) are addressed in individual chapters. These chapters include a description of the relevant phenomena, an overview of the related past and present experimental work and theoretical research, and selected consequence estimation methodologies. Each chapter includes sample problems to illustrate the application of the methodologies presented. The material presented is supported by approximately 400 references, with all references provided in a separate chapter..

1.1

Scope of the Book

The goal of this book is to provide the reader with an adequate understanding of the basic physical principles of flash fires and explosions and the current state of the art in hazard estimation methodologies. It is not the goal of this book to provide a comprehensive discussion of all of the experimental work and theoretical research that has been performed in the field of flash fire and explosion evaluation. The book does not address subjects such as toxic effects, confined explosions (e.g., an explosion within a building), dust explosions, runaway reactions, condensed-phase explosions, pool fires, jet flames, or structural responses of buildings. Furthermore, no attempt is made to address the frequency or likelihood of accident scenarios.

1.2

Book Audience

The book was written for two target audiences: safety professionals involved in consequence analysis and managers responsible for chemical processing facilities. For a person new to the field of explosion and flash fire hazard evaluation this book provides a starting point for understanding the phenomena covered and presents methods for calculating the possible consequences of incidents. It provides an overview of research in the field and numerous references for readers with more experience. Managers will be able to utilize this book to develop a basic understanding of the governing phenomena, the calculation methods to estimate consequences, and the limitations of each method. 2. Management Overview The Management Overview chapter was written specifically for managers of chemical processing companies, and it contains an overview of the hazards associated with flash fires, VCEs, PVBs, and BLEVEs. The potential consequences of these types of incidents are illustrated by brief incident accounts, including data on number of fatalities and injuries and amount of property loss for each event. The chapter attempts to educate managers on the availability of models for each of the hazards and the benefits of understanding the threat posed by each hazard in managing the risks associated with a chemical processing facility. The chapter

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is purposefully non-technical for an audience that is not familiar with modeling of explosion and fire hazards. 3. Case Histories The Case Histories chapter provides a review of incidents involving flash fire, VCE, PVB, and BLEVE hazards. These case histories illustrate the conditions present at the time of the event, highlighting the serious consequences of such events and the need for evaluation of the hazards. The selection of incidents was based on the availability of information, the kind and amount of material involved, and the severity of damage. A total of 17 case histories are included. The incidents described in this chapter cover a range of factors: Materials: hydrogen, propylene, propane, cyclohexane, ethylene oxide, and natural gas liquids Period of time: between the years 1964 and 2007 Quantity released: 90 kg (200 lb) to 40,000 kg (85,000 lb) Site characteristics: settings ranging from rural to very congested industrial areas Severity: injuries and damage vary widely in cases presented

4. Flash Fires A flash fire is the combustion of a flammable gas/air mixture that produces relatively short term thermal hazards with negligible overpressure (blast wave). A flash fire burns through a premixed vapor cloud, consuming the fuel as it burns. If a flash fire burns back to the source, it can become a jet fire or a pool fire. Flash fires are the only non-explosion hazards treated in the book. Flash fires were included in the first edition because of similarities with some aspects of VCE and BLEVE phenomena including: The flammable material discharge and dispersion for a flash fire is similar to that of a VCE; however, the flammable cloud is not in congestion and confinement and lacks turbulence to result in flame acceleration like a VCE. A flash fire is a transient event, albeit with a duration that is typically longer than a BLEVE or VCE. The radiant energy intensity or surface emissive power (SEP) of a flash fire is determined by the same mechanisms as a BLEVE, including absorption of radiant energy by carbon particles, although the flash fire SEP is weaker than that of a BLEVE. Similar phenomena need to be described in an explosion or a flash fire model: The dimensions of an unignited vapor cloud of flammable material should first be modeled. Potential overlap of the flammable cloud with congested zones should be calculated to ascertain whether a VCE or flash fire is likely.

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The flash fire model must predict flame speed, both into and with the wind. Flame speed is lowest at the flammable limits and highest near the stoichiometric concentration, and depends on the turbulence within the vapor cloud. Thus, the concentration gradients in a flammable cloud translate to complexity such as a flame that envelopes the cloud before burning into the cloud center. An example of this was captured in experiments by the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) in Figure 1. As with BLEVEs, accurate radiation impact from a flash fire requires accounting for atmospheric transmissivity and view factors.

The second edition of the book updates the experimental data base for flash fire tests and correlations for atmospheric transmissivity. The book retains an example calculation of radiant energy reaching a target. This calculation requires integration of the transient radiation from a passing flame front. The difficulties evident in this example illustrate the need for using a flash fire model.

Figure 1. Flame front progression in LPG vapor cloud (2.0 m/s wind, 2.6 kg/s discharge for 51 s, ignition 25 m from source, [HSL, 2001).
Reproduced by permission of the HSL.

The flash fire model of Raj and Emmons (1975) is still commonly used. This model incorporates emissive power correlations from data observed in the China Lake tests, in the Maplin Sands experiments, and in the Montoir LNG fire test (Nedelka, 1990). It also applies flame speed correlations and flame width to length ratios calibrated to experiments by Steward (1964). The model describes some of the complex behavior of flash fires. For example, if the unburned fuel concentration is lean (between the LFL and the stoichiometric) the flame does not require further diffusive input of air, so the flame front is roughly as high as the plume. Otherwise, since a rich fuel mixture requires diffusive input of air, the burning front is higher

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than the original plume because the adiabatic expansion of hot combustion products pushes unburned fuel upward. A new CFD gas dispersion and flash fire model is reviewed, the Kameleon FireEx model. This is a field model fire simulator developed at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and SINTEF Energy, Department of Applied Thermodynamics and Fluid Dynamics in Trondheim, Norway. This model has a pre-processor to set up the geometry and specify boundary and initial conditions and sub-models. The sub-models include the k-turbulence model, the Eddy Dissipation Concept of turbulent combustion, the Eddy Dissipation Soot Model and the Discrete Transfer Model of radiative heat transfer. 5. Vapor Cloud Explosions A vapor cloud explosion is the result of a release of flammable material in the atmosphere, dispersion of the flammable material in air, and delayed ignition of the flammable portion of the vapor cloud. An accidental release of gaseous or liquid fuel may not necessarily lead to an explosion. If the released material ignites promptly, a fire is the outcome. Delayed ignition of a vapor cloud in an uncongested area leads to a flash fire. Some releases do not ignite, averting any fire or explosion consequences. Certain conditions must be met in order for a VCE to occur. First, there must be a release of flammable material into a confined/congested area. Second, ignition must be delayed long enough to allow the formation of the ignitable mixture, with the fuel-air concentration lying between the flammable limits. Third, there must be an ignition source of sufficient energy to ignite the fuel-air mixture. An introduction of vapor cloud explosion (VCE) phenomena and terminology is given in the VCE chapter, followed by an overview of experimental research on vapor cloud deflagrations and detonations. Mechanisms of flame acceleration, which are essential for a VCE to occur, are presented. Three important factors affecting flame acceleration, namely confinement, congestion, and fuel reactivity, are discussed in order to better understand the large amount of experimental results on VCE deflagrations. Experimental measurements and empirical equations to predict the effects of VCE detonations are also presented. VCEs are complex explosions. In a vapor cloud deflagration, the combustion and pressure wave are decoupled. The overpressure generated in a VCE deflagration varies with combustion rate: minimal overpressure is produced at low flame speed, and high overpressures are produced at higher flame speeds. Consequently, the damage to the surroundings caused by VCE deflagration ranges from minimal to more severe. VCE detonations are typically more severe than deflagrations due to the high overpressure generated by a supersonic wave. The situation for VCE deflagrations is complex because the flame speed and pressure buildup in the deflagration are not unique for a given cloud composition, but vary in a wide spectrum depending on many factors. Moreover, the composition of fuel and combustion products at the flame front, within the cloud, which supports the deflagration, changes continuously. The vast majority of accidental VCEs are deflagrations. The physical layout of a process area within a flammable cloud has a direct bearing on the outcome of a VCE. The layout is described by two parameters: confinement and congestion. Confinement refers to solid surfaces that prevent movement of unburned gases and a flame front

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in one or more dimensions. Congestion refers to obstacles in the path of the flame that generate turbulence. Turbulence produces flame folding and wrinkling, increasing flame surface area and combustion rate. Repeated, closely spaced obstacles may create conditions favorable to creating a VCE. Experimental data are organized in the book according to the type of confinement and degree of congestion to illustrate the effect of confinement and congestion on VCE blast pressure. VCE blast prediction methods are discussed and arranged into three categories: TNT equivalency methods, blast curve methods, and numerical simulations. The TNT method is included for historical perspective and due its continued use by the insurance companies and some government agencies, but this method is no longer recommended. Three blast curve methods are presented: the TNO Multi-Energy Method, the Baker-Strehlow-Tang (BST) Method, and the Shell Congestion Assessment Method (CAM). Sample problems are provided to illustrate each methodology. Numerical simulations using computational fluid dynamics models are also described, but due to the complexity of this subject, the book content was limited to an overview and illustration. 6. Pressure Vessel Bursts A major change in the book was separation of PVBs into its own chapter. The first edition included PVB treatment as part of BLEVE predictions. However, pressure vessel accidents that do not involve flashing liquid are a hazard that warrants separate consideration. PVB, as the name implies, is a type of explosion that involves burst of a pressure vessel containing a gas at elevated pressure. The term pressure vessel in PVB is not necessarily synonymous with the definition of pressure vessel used in the ASME pressure vessel code; rather, any vessel or enclosure that can build significant pressure before bursting can generate a PVB. Upon burst, the sudden expansion of a compressed gas generates a blast wave that propagates outward from the source. Pieces of the vessel shell along with any external appurtenances are thrown, creating a fragment hazard. It is not necessary for the vessel contents to be flammable or contain reactive chemicals. PVBs occur with flammable gases, inert gases, reactive gases, or mixtures of these materials. Among the types of explosions addressed in the book, PVBs can potentially generate the highest blast pressures at the explosion source due to the internal pressure achieved in a vessel at the time it bursts. However, the explosion energy of a PVB is usually small compared to VCEs and BLEVEs because the energy is limited by volume of compressed gas in the vessel. In comparison to VCEs, PVBs can produce high damage, but the damage zone is relatively small due to the relatively low energy involved. In spite of the significant design safety factors and pressure relief devices, accidents involving pressure vessels can still occur for a variety of reasons. Accident scenarios can involve one or more of the following causes of failure: Loss of mechanical integrity the pressure vessels attached connections are compromised in some fashion; as a consequence, the stresses in a pressure-carrying component can exceed the components ultimate capacity. Failures due to a loss of mechanical integrity may occur at normal working pressure.

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Pressurization beyond ultimate failure pressure pressure goes beyond the vessels ultimate capacity with scenarios considering the rate of pressurization versus the ability of the system to relieve pressure through safety devices. External agencies an external source compromises mechanical integrity, such as impact, cutting, and fire. Fabrication, transportation and installation Flaws, weaknesses and deficiencies induced prior to usage can cause the installed vessel differ from the design intent. Damage to the surroundings from a PVB may be caused by blast pressure and fragments. Blast effects provide the primary source of damage from a PVB. Fragmentation typically causes damage relatively close to the vessel. Unlike BLEVEs, the thermal effects of PVBs are usually minor relative to the potential blast pressure and fragment damage. Experimental and analytical results are presented in the book for blast pressure and fragmentation. Blast curves for the prediction of airblast parameters are included. The simplified correlation of directional blast effects from cylindrical pressure vessels has been replaced with figures that provide adjustment factors to calculate pressure and impulse at various angles from a horizontal vessel. Lastly, fragment velocity and throw prediction methods are provided. 7. Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosions A boiling liquid, expanding vapor explosion (BLEVE) is defined as a sudden loss of containment of a pressure-liquefied gas existing above its normal atmospheric boiling point at the moment of its failure. Such a failure will result in rapidly expanding vapor and flashing liquid. BLEVEs are typically similar to pressure vessel bursts in terms of their blast effects, with an increase in the energy released due to the involvement of flashing liquid. The flashing liquid can lead to hazards that are not typically of primary concern for pressure vessel bursts; these include rocketing fragments and fireballs (where the liquid contents are flammable). The initiating mechanisms and failure pressures are similar to that of the pressure vessel bursts discussed in the pressure vessel burst chapter, but the involvement of flashing liquid can increase the energy released quite substantially and thereby have farther ranging effects. The BLEVE chapter builds on the material presented in the pressure vessel burst chapter, focusing on the changes due to the flashing liquid. The chapter opens with an introduction to the thermodynamics of boiling and flashing liquids. This discussion includes a discussion of nucleate boiling, homogeneous boiling, and the superheat limit temperature. The chapter then proceeds to discuss the modes of failure. In BLEVEs, a crack can release vapor, causing the pressure in the vessel to reduce. If the vessel contains only vapor, this crack may then be stable and the result would be a jet or vapor flowing from the vessel. When a liquid above its normal atmospheric boiling point is also present, the decrease in pressure can cause the liquid to boil and this can lead to a re-pressurization of the vessel that can drive the initial failure to grow. These two-step BLEVEs have been observed in experimental studies and are distinctly different than the failure modes presented for pressure vessel bursts. After presenting a narrative of a typical BLEVE scenario (i.e., what most readers will think of when they consider BLEVEs), the book presents experimental and analytical methodologies that are currently accepted for assessing the consequences of BLEVEs. These include airblast,

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thermal hazards (i.e., fireball effects, drawing on the material presented under flash fires), and fragment and debris throw models, including correlations to predict rocketing fragments. 8. Book Publication The book was printed during the first quarter of 2010 and is available through AICHE Publications department. It can be purchase online at http://www.aiche.org/publications/.