Designs to Prevent Fires and Explosions

Potential Damage Limit A 2-fold strategy is used to limit the potential damage from fires and explosions: Prevent the initiation of the fire or explosion (fire prevention) Minimize the damage after a fire or explosion has occurred (fire protection)

Design Methods Fire and explosion preventive measures Inerting Static Electricity Controlling static electricity Ventilation Fire and explosion hazard control measures Explosion proof equipment and instruments Sprinkler systems Miscellaneous design features


. Cross-connections between the source of inerting gas and any other system should not be allowed.Sources of Inerting Gases Possible sources of purge or inerting gases include commercially available gases supplied from high pressure cryogenic tanks or standard cylinders. or on-site air separation plants. The purging and inerting gas should be introduced and exhausted so that effective mixing is ensured and the desired reduction in oxidant concentration is maintained throughout the system being protected. The gases from purged or inerted vessel must be disposed of in a safe manner.

and continuous inerting to assure safe conditions during normal operations. . sweep-through purging and siphon purging.Purging Methods Several methods may be used to form and maintain a noncombustible atmosphere in an enclosure or vessel. These include batch modes for one-time use. combined vacuum-pressure purging. Purging methods to reduce the oxygen concentration are: vacuum purging. pressure purging. such as purging equipment during a shutdown.



Vacuum purge cycles .







Disadvantages of Vacuum Purging -Relatively slow process of developing a vacuum -Capacity of vacuum systems decreases significantly as the absolute vacuum is decreased .

Pressure Purge Cycles .




the capacity of vacuum systems decreases significantly as the absolute vacuum is decreased. Pressure purging.Pressure purging versus vacuum purging Practical advantage of pressure purging versus vacuum purging is the potential for cycle time reductions. Also. Therefore the best purging process is selected based on cost and performance. . The pressurization process is much more rapid compared to the relatively slow process of developing a vacuum. however uses more inert gas.

Vacuum pressure purging with initial pressurization .


the remaining cycles are identical to the vacuum purge operation. the oxygen mole fraction at this point is the same as the initial mole fraction.21 . 21 © ¹ ©P ¹ ª H º Where.Combined Pressure-Vacuum purging If the initial oxygen mole fraction is 0. The oxygen mole fraction at the end of this initial pressurization is given by: yo ¨ Po ¸ ! 0 . Furthermore. . P0 is the starting pressure.

. Vacuum purging uses less inert gas because the oxygen concentration is reduced primarily by vacuum.Advantages and Disadvantages of the Various Pressure and Vacuum Inerting Procedures Pressure purging is faster because the pressure differentials are greater. however it uses more inert gas than vacuum purging. especially if the initial cycle is a vacuum cycle. When combining vacuum and pressure purging. less nitrogen is used compared to pressure purging.

This process is generally used when the vessel or equipment is not rated for pressure or vacuum. The volumetric quantity of inert gas required to reduce the oxidant concentration from C1 to C2 is Qvt and is calculated using: .Sweep-Through purging The sweep-through purging process adds purge gas into a vessel at one opening and withdraws the mixed gas from the vessel to the atmosphere (or scrubber) from another opening.

The volume of the purge gas is equal to the volume of the vessel. This could expensive when purging large storage vessel. The purging process start by filling the vessel with liquid (water or other). . Siphon purging is used to minimize such expenses. and the rate of purging is equivalent to the volumetric rate of liquid discharge.Siphon purging The sweep-through purging requires large quantities of nitrogen. The purged gas is subsequently added to the vapor space as the liquid drained from the vessel.

drums. or through an opening in a pipe or hose spraying or coating blending or mixing filling tanks.Static Electricity Static electricity is commonly produced when: liquid flows through a pipe or hose. cans or pails dry powdered material passes through chutes or pneumatic conveyors non-conductive conveyor belts or drive belts are moving .

combing hair.Fundamentals of Static Charge ‡ A common ignition source is sparks resulting from static charge build-up and sudden discharge. mixing immiscible liquids. the charge build-up is greater as electrons are not as mobile and are trapped on surfaces. friction between fabrics. ‡ For good conductors. ‡ Household examples which result in a buildup of a static charge are walking across a rug. . ‡ For poor conductors or insulators. ‡ Electrostatic discharge occurs when two materials at different potentials come close enough together to generate a charge transfer. pneumatically conveying solids. charge build-up is small because the electrons are able to move between the surfaces. pumping of a non-conductive liquid through pipe.

.Streaming Current A streaming current. Is is the flow of electricity produced by transferring electrons from one surface to another by a flowing fluid or solid. The streaming current is obtained by integrating the product of voltage gradient and the fluid velocity over the thickness of the double layer.

More equations .

Energy of Charged Capacitors .

Electrostatic Values .

In the chemical industry.Capacitance of a Body The buildup of a charge on one surfaces relative to another produces a capacitor. . the properties of the developed capacitor are estimated by assuming parallel flat plate or spherical geometrics.

Flammable vapors may be present in normal operations.Electrostatic Hazards An electrostatic charge by itself does not necessarily represent an ignition hazard.The conductivity of refined petroleum liquids and bulk hydrocarbon chemicals is very low. A discharge can be incentive when the energy released is equal to or greater than the minimum ignition energy. and electrostatic discharges can initiate fires and explosions . In the petrochemical industry static electricity is a very serious problem for two reasons: . Such a hazard exists only when the charge is so high that discharges occur owing to the high electric field. permitting charge accumulation .

the separation process build-up charges .B&G reduced voltage of an entire system to ground level or zero voltage.Prevent accumulation of charges when liquid is allowed to free fall into tank by extending discharge pipe. ‡ Relaxation .When pumping fluids into a vessel through pipe.Reduce this hazard by adding an enlarged section of pipe just before entering tank. This provides time for charge reduction by relaxation. thus eliminate charge build-up and potential static sparks. ‡ Dip pipes . . .Controlling Static Electricity ‡ Bonding & Grounding (B&G) .Voltage difference between two conductive materials is reduced to zero by bonding and grounding these two materials.

Examples of antis tats include water or polar solvents such as alcohols. . because an insoluble phase gives an additional source of separation and charge buildup. Water is only effective when it is soluble in the offending liquid.Increasing Conductivity with Additives The conductivity of non conducting organics can sometimes be increased using additives called antistatic additives.

Handling Solids .

Explosion-Proof Equipment ‡ Process divided into two major environments: XP and non-XP. ‡ XP (Explosion proof) means flammable materials might be present at certain times.XP means that flammable materials are not present even under abnormal conditions. For non-XP designated areas. ‡ Non. open flames. heated elements and other sources of ignition may be present. .

Explosion Proof Housings ‡ At XP area. . ‡ Motor starter is enclosed in a heavy cast walled box with the strength needed to withstand explosive pressures. electrical equipment must have special housings designed to withstand internal explosion and prevent combustion from spreading beyond the inside of enclosure.

Area and material classification Class systems: The classes are related to the nature of flammable material Class I: Locations where flammable gases/vapors are present Class II: Locations where flammable dusts are present Class III: Hazard locations where combustible fibers or dust are present not likely to be in suspension Group system: The groups designate the presence of specific chemical types. Chemicals that are grouped have equivalent hazards: Group A: Acetylene Group B: Hydrogen. Ethylene Group C: Carbon monoxide. Ethyl alcohol Group E: Aluminum dust Group F: Carbon black Group G: Flour . Hydrogen sulfide Group D: Butane. Ethane.

flammable concentration are normally present Division 2: Hazardous only abnormal conditions. Flammable materials are normally contained in closed containers or system .Area and material classification Division system: regions are categorized in relationship to the probability of the material being within the flammable or explosive region Division 1: Probability of ignition is high.

The overall classification is only as good as the piece of equipment in an area with the lowest classification. All pieces of equipment and instrumentation within an area must be appropriately specified and installed.Design of XP Area When designing an XP area. . group and divisions. all pieces of electrical equipment and instrumentation are specified for the class.

however is also used because the potential points of releases are usually numerous. Dilution ventilation. . Open Air Plants Open air plants are recommended because the average wind velocities are high enough to safely dilute volatile chemical leaks which may exist within a plant.Explosion Proof Equipment & Instruments Ventilation The purpose of ventilation is to dilute the explosive vapors with air to prevent explosion and to confine hazardous flammable mixtures. Plants inside buildings Local ventilation is the most effective method for controlling flammable gas releases.

Design Criteria for designating ventilation system .

Consist of an array of sprinkler heads connected to a water supply.If a fire is detected.Heads are mounted at high location and disperse a fine spray of water over an area when activated.Sprinkler systems require maintenance to insure they remain in service and have an adequate and uninterrupted water supply. . .. depending upon the contents of the building or process structure. the entire sprinkler array within an area is activated.Other Methods Sprinkler systems . . This approach is called an open head area system. .Sprinkler systems may cause considerable water damage when activated. . possibly in areas not even affected by the fire.

.Types of Sprinkler Systems Antifreeze sprinkler system: A wet pipe system that contains an antifreeze solution and that is connected to water supply. the system is depressurized. When the sprinkler is opened by heat. Deluge sprinkler system: Open sprinklers and an empty line that is connected to water supply line through a valve that is opened upon detection of heat or flammable material. Wet pipe sprinkler system: A system containing water that discharges through the opened sprinklers via heat. allowing water to flow into the system and out the open sprinkler. Dry pipe sprinkler system: A system filled with nitrogen or air under pressure.

and small pilot plants. These systems are similar to open head area systems. Deluge Water Spray Systems for vessels.Fire Protection for Chemical Plants Closed Head Area Systems for small storage areas. . control rooms. Open Head Area Systems for process areas including larger pilot plant. heat exchangers etc. Nominal Discharge Capacities of approved sprinklers having a nominal ½ inch orifice. laboratories.

Miscellaneous Designs for Preventing Fires and Explosions (Feature) Maintenance Programs Fireproofing Control Rooms Water supplies Control valves for deluge Manual Fire Protection Separate Units Utilities Personnel areas Group Units Isolation Valves Railroads and Flares Online Analyzers Fail Safe designs .

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