Scholarly article on topic 'Advances in Dust Explosion Protection Techniques: Flameless Venting'

Advances in Dust Explosion Protection Techniques: Flameless Venting Academic research paper on "Materials engineering"

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Abstract of research paper on Materials engineering, author of scientific article — Jef Snoeys, John E. Going, Jérôme R. Taveau

Abstract Despite a much greater awareness of dust explosion hazards, numerous accidents continue to happen each year throughout the world, resulting in casualties, property losses and business interruption. Prevention constitutes the first line of defense, and remains an essential part of risk mitigation when dealing with dust explosions; in addition, explosion protection techniques (such as containment, venting, isolation and suppression) also need to be implemented to deal with consequences and effects of explosion when they do occur. While conventional venting remains the most common and popular method of protection used, its implementation is not always straightforward, especially for indoor equipment. A new technology - flameless venting - has been developed for dust explosions, thanks to extensive large scale test programs. In comparison with conventional venting devices, the most notable benefits of using flameless venting devices are flame extinguishment and dust retention, resulting in blast, thermal radiation and noise minimization outside the protected equipment. Another distinct advantage is that it can be easily retrofitted to existing installations, without requiring significant changes to the process. In addition to describing the concept of flameless venting and its design, this article presents results of test programs conducted by Fike, as well as current standardization activities related to flameless venting, both in Europe and in the United States of America.

Academic research paper on topic "Advances in Dust Explosion Protection Techniques: Flameless Venting"

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Engineering

Procedia Engineering 45 (2012) 403 - 413 -

www.elsevier.com/locate/procedia

2012 International Symposium on Safety Science and Technology Advances in dust explosion protection techniques: flameless venting

Jef SNOEYSa*, John E. GOINGb, Jérôme R. TAVEAUb

aFike Europe, Toekomstlaan 52, Herentals, Belgium bFike Corporation, 704 SW 10th Street, Blue Springs, MO, USA

Abstract

Despite a much greater awareness of dust explosion hazards, numerous accidents continue to happen each year throughout the world, resulting in casualties, property losses and business interruption. Prevention constitutes the first line of defense, and remains an essential part of risk mitigation when dealing with dust explosions; in addition, explosion protection techniques (such as containment, venting, isolation and suppression) also need to be implemented to deal with consequences and effects of explosion when they do occur. While conventional venting remains the most common and popular method of protection used, its implementation is not always straightforward, especially for indoor equipment. A new technology - flameless venting - has been developed for dust explosions, thanks to extensive large scale test programs. In comparison with conventional venting devices, the most notable benefits of using flameless venting devices are flame extinguishment and dust retention, resulting in blast, thermal radiation and noise minimization outside the protected equipment. Another distinct advantage is that it can be easily retrofitted to existing installations, without requiring significant changes to the process. In addition to describing the concept of flameless venting and its design, this article presents results of test programs conducted by Fike, as well as current standardization activities related to flameless venting, both in Europe and in the United States of America.

© 2012 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of the Beijing Institute of Technology.

Keywords: dust explosion ; flameless venting ; standards.

Nomenclature

CEN Comité Européen de Normalisation

EN European Norm

HSL Health and Safety Laboratory

Kst deflagration index of a dust cloud (bar.m/s)

LFL lower flammability limit

MEC minimum explosible concentration

MIT minimum ignition temperature

NFPA National Fire Protection Association

OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Pmax maximum pressure developed in a contained deflagration of an optimum mixture (barg)

Pred maximum pressure developed in a vented enclosure during a vented deflagration (barg)

Pstat pressure that activates a vent closure (barg)_

ELSEVIER

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +32-14-849476; Fax: +32-14-210743. E-mail address: jef.snoeys@fike.com

1877-7058 © 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. doi:10.1016/j.proeng.2012.08.178

1. Introduction

Recent dust explosions have resulted in a much greater public awareness and, in turn, in a demand for improved safety performances by the regulator in many industrial countries. In the United States of America, OSHA issued a new Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (NEP) in response of the Imperial Sugar dust explosion (14 casualties, 36 injuries, Fig. 1) that occurred in 2008 [1].

Fig. 1. Photograph of Imperial Sugar facility after dust explosion(s) that occurred 7 February, 2008.

For many years, the most common and popular method of dust explosion protection has been venting. In its simplest form, a vent is an aperture in the top or side of a vessel that provides a means of pressure relief during an explosion.

While conventional venting is quite efficient and recommended for most of the cases, its implementation can pose concerns when dealing with indoor equipment. Indeed, the vent discharge must be directed out of the building by suitable ducting, to protect people in the vicinity of the vented vessel, and also to prevent a secondary dust explosion fueled by dust deposits. However, the reduced explosion pressure Pred inside the vented vessel will be much higher because of this ducting creates flow restriction during the venting process. Some applications may need long ducts, possibly elbows, which require a much larger vent (Fig. 2). Sometimes venting is no longer a viable solution, and other protection methods should be evaluated.

Fig. 2. Example of vent duct installation provided by NFPA 68.

Even when the vented vessel is installed outdoors, the hazards from overpressure, thermal radiation, release of material outside the vessel, as well as noise [3-11] have to be taken into account. The implications of dealing with these hazards may require large restricted areas [12], which may not be desired for some applications.

A new technology of dust explosion protection has been developed [13] to overcome the above concerns. This technology, called flameless venting, has now been adopted in guidelines and described in technical papers by several authors in the industry [14-16].

Fig. 3 shows of an example of a decision tree used to select the most suitable explosion protection technique, and in particular flameless venting.

Fig. 3. Decision tree to select the most suitable explosion protection technique [from Fike].

2. Flameless venting

A flameless venting device is a passive element that typically includes an explosion vent panel and a flame-quenching unit that is inside a flanged metal frame (Fig. 4 to 6); the frame attaches the element to the process equipment, such as a dust collector [17-19]. The flame quenching unit's frame encloses layers of particle-retaining, high-temperature stainless steel mesh or carbon steel mesh, as shown in Fig. 7. The flame-quenching unit may be cylindrical, rectangular, or square to fit the vent opening's shape. Other types of flame quenching elements are given in Annex A of EN 16009 [20].

UFT RIMC

I, IF I KINC

HAianfiAKE-

IIFT RING

FlAMCFILILR

VEWT PANEL

10 TAb

GASKFT

hoi ting рас

Fig. 4. Exploded view of Fike FlamQuench II cylindrical flameless venting device

Fig. 5. Picture of Fike FlamQuench II cylindrical flameless venting device

Fig. 6. Detail of Fike FlamQuench II™ square flameless venting device

Fig. 7. Impression of layered high temperature stainless steel flamefilter (wire gauze and gauze packs)

During the early stages of an explosion inside the process equipment, the explosion vent panel opens (Fig. 8). As the explosion expands, flame, burnt and unburnt dust discharge through the open vent into the flame-quenching element. Most of the dust is retained inside the element, and the energy (heat) dissipates as it travels through and is absorbed by the steel mesh inside the element. This reduces the burning fuel's temperature below the fuel's ignition temperature, extinguishing the flame and preventing flame propagation beyond the device. Only a small amount of dust passes through the flame-quenching element, and post-combustion gases from the explosion are safely vented through the device into the external atmosphere around it.

Heat dissipation by filter elements

Dust cloud concentration < MEC Temperature < MIT

Non fragmenting explosion vent panel

Fig. 8. Working principle of flameless venting.

The flameless venting device not only extinguishes the flame and retains dust, but completely eliminates the need for explosion vent ducting and minimizes the vent relief area required for indoor explosion venting. Flameless venting devices of various shapes are shown in Fig. 9 to 11. Some are designed to suit particular storage and process equipment such as silos, bins, hoppers, dryers, mixers, dust collectors, cyclones, but also transport equipment such as belt conveyors, screw conveyors, and bucket elevators.

Fig. 9. Fike FlamQuench II cylindrical flameless venting device on a hopper.

Fig. 10. Fike EleQuench™ flameless venting device on a bucket elevator.

Fig. 11. Fike FlamQuench IITM square flameless venting device on a filter installation.

3. Flameless venting testing

The first information about testing flameless venting devices for dust explosion is given by Eckhoff [21]. Unfortunately, information available to the public is scarce.

In 1992, a test program was undertaken by Dr. W. Bartknecht and A. Vogl at Forschungsgesellschaft für angewandte Systemsicherheit und Arbeitsmedizin (FSA) premises in Kappelrodeck, Germany to verify whether commercially available gas flame arrestors could be applied to stop propagation of industrial dust explosions. As would be expected, the flame arrestor elements caused a restriction to flow and the effective relief area was diminished.

A much higher venting efficiency has been achieved by using a cylindrical form, where both the top and sides of the structure are manufactured from multiple flame arresting stainless steel mesh layers and fine mesh particle retention screens. The performance of this type of flameless venting devices to dust explosions was assessed in an experimental program carried out by Fike [13].

Tests were conducted in three explosion chambers of 0.5 m3, 2 m3 and 4 m3 (Fig. 12), with four materials (propane, cornstarch, anthraquinone and Pittsburg coal) having Kst up to 300 bar.m/s, five sizes of flame less venting devices (diameters of 8", 14", 20", 24" and 36"), two styles of explosion vents (Fike explosion vent models CV and CV-S) and at two static burst pressures (0.1 and 0.2 barg).

In all the tests carried out, flame never emerged from the FlamQuench IITM flameless venting device. This has been verified using three methods: one method was the examination of videotapes of the experiments, a second method was the placement of cotton rags soaked with gasoline on the exterior surface, whereas a third method involved placing a 0.125" layer of cornstarch dust on the top of the unit. Photographs of tests conducted by Fike, without and with flameless venting device, are provided in Fig. 13.

»-ANSI№0

Fig. 12. 0.5 m3, 2 m3 and 4 m3 vessels used in Fike experiments.

Fig. 13. Vented explosion test without and with Fike FlamQuench IITM cylindrical flameless venting device.

It was also found that the efficiency of venting using FlamQuench IITM flameless venting device was above 80% (Fig. 14). This efficiency factor then allows the calculation of required vent area when using a flameless venting device.

w Й Dh

VentAiea, ft2

Fig. 14. Efficiency results on 2 m3 test vessel of Fike Corporation, USA.

Recent tests performed by Health and Safety Laboratory [22-24] in the United Kingdom involved a 2 m3 vessel equipped with a Fike flameless venting device. The objective of these tests was to study volume and fuel limitations. Wheat flour, corn flour and wood dusts were tested. Fig. 15 shows the results of a vented explosion for the same vessel (above) equipped with a traditional venting device (on the left) and a flameless venting device (on the right). While an external flame of several meters was observed for the first case, "[...] the flame was completely eliminated by the introduction of a flameless venting device with only smoke, dust and water vapour emitted from the device."

Fig. 15. Vented explosion test performed by HSL with a flameless venting device [21].

While flame is contained, hot gases exit the protected vessel through the flameless venting device. Thermographic recordings, using high speed infrared video, provide useful information on the temperature profile downstream (outside) of the flameless venting device (Fig. 16). This information should be used to define specific limits of application and safety zones around the unit.

K = 197 bar.m/s, P , = 0.1 bar, 14, 20 and 24" vents

max ' stat ' '

Com posite Vent • Flam Quench H

ft2 = 93%

ft2 = 84%

_J_I_I__I_L

% Efficiency ~100

j__I_I_I_I_

Percent of LFL

Fig. 17. Maximum discharge plume temperatures during a vented explosion with a vent (in blue) and with a flameless vent (in red).

4. Current standardization activities related to flameless venting

The technique of flameless venting is described in both American standard NFPA 68 "Standard on explosion protection by deflagration venting" [2] (2007, currently under revision) and European standard EN 16009 "Flameless explosion venting devices" [20] (2011).

NFPA 68 is applicable to the design, location, installation, maintenance, and use of equipment that vents deflagrations from enclosures to minimize structural and mechanical damage. Flameless venting devices are addressed in several parts of the document. In particular, NFPA 68 states that "Where external venting is not feasible, such as where the location of equipment outdoors or adjacent to exterior walls is impractical, or where ducting is too long to be effective, a device that operates on the principles offlame arresting and particulate retention shall be permitted to be used." Limitations and safety considerations are also discussed, such as:

• Consideration should be given to the proximity of personnel, volume of the room, possibility of combustible mixtures exterior to the equipment and possible toxic emissions

• When venting within a building even with retention of flame and particles, the immediate surrounding area around the vent can experience overpressure and radiant energy. The expected overpressure must be considered in relation to the strength of the building and building venting should be considered to limit overpressures

• The user should work closely with the manufacturer to ensure that the above mentioned parameters are addressed

In Europe, a standard exclusively dedicated to flameless venting was published in 2011. This standard has been prepared by a group of experts gathered in Working Group 3 of CEN Technical Committee 305 "Devices and systems for explosion prevention and protection". This detailed standard specifies the requirements for flameless explosion venting devices, in terms of design, inspection, testing, marking, documentation and packaging. It particularly provides test requirements for manufacturers and lists elements to be included in the test report, such as:

• Product characteristics (nature of the sample - sample pre-treatment - characteristics data for particle size distribution and moisture content - type of fuel and all relevant safety characteristics)

• Characteristics of the test rig (dimensional sketch of the test rig - enclosure volume, aspect ratio, surface area - dustdispersion system - explosion characteristics of the fuel (sample) in the test enclosures - ignition delay time)

• Characteristics of the flameless explosion venting device (type and construction including, but not limited to material specification, physical dimensions and parameters relevant for production quality control - static activation pressure of the venting device)

• Results (venting efficiency - Pred - surface temperature and external pressure - result of flame transmission test -observations on external effects)

5. Example of flameless venting system design

As discussed previously, an important part of the design of a flameless venting device is to calculate its proper size for the application. This requires considering the device's overall venting efficiency, which is determined by large scale testing. The resulting correction factor, that is used to compensate for the restriction to flow (which will diminish the effective relief area), shall be applied to the vent area as calculated by venting standards to determine the required increase in vent area.

An example is given here, in which type and size of venting to be installed on a cylindrical hopper handling wood fiber will be determined.

The hopper, which is installed indoors, requires either a conventional explosion vent with ducting or a flameless venting device. The hopper volume is 1.5 m3, the length-to-diameter ratio is 1 and the equipment strength is 0.3 barg. Based on material characterization testing, it has been determined that the fibrous wood dust has a Kst of 120 bar.m/s and a Pmax of 7 barg.

Conventional venting with ducting

Based on vent area calculations provided in NFPA 68, the required vent relief area for this hopper is 0.09 m2, for a vent panel with a Pstat of 0.1 barg.

The increase in vent area is then calculated to take into consideration that a vent duct is required to direct flame and pressure outside the building. The vent duct relief area now becomes 0.24 m2 (i.e. 2.5 times the initial vent area).

Flameless venting

NFPA 68 vent area calculations are used again to calculate a flameless venting device that can provide the required vent relief area for this application.

From large scale testing, a venting efficiency of 54 percent has been determined, giving a required flameless venting area equal to 0.09 m2/ (54/100) = 0.17 m2, i.e. 30% smaller than for the conventional venting with a duct. Unlike a conventional explosion vent, the flameless venting device eliminates any need for vent ducting and, thus, any need to penetrate the building wall to vent explosion flames.

6. Conclusions

For many years, the most common and popular method of dust explosion protection has been venting. While conventional venting is quite efficient and recommended for most of the cases, its implementation is not always straightforward, especially for indoor equipment.

A new technology has been developed for dust explosions, thanks to extensive large scale test programs. This technology, called flameless venting, has now been adopted in guidelines and described in technical papers by several authors in the industry. In comparison with conventional venting devices, the most notable benefits of using flameless venting devices are flame extinguishment and dust retention, resulting in blast, thermal radiation and noise minimization outside the protected equipment. Another distinct advantage is that it can be easily retrofitted to existing installations, without requiring significant changes to the process.

When considering flameless venting, one has to consider the following:

• The overall efficiency of the flameless venting device shall be determined by testing in order to calculate the required vent relief area

• Special attention must be paid to dusts that have the potential to block the flame quenching element (coarse or fibrous dusts)

• Even though flameless venting devices greatly limit overpressures outside the protected equipment, it should be verified whether the building can withstand these pressure effects

It is therefore recommended to work closely with an explosion protection manufacturer who can provide the appropriate recommendations and suitable equipment for the considered application.

References

[1] Chemical Safety Board, 2009. Sugar dust explosion and fire (14 killed, 36 injured), Imperial Sugar Company, Port Wentworth, Georgia, February 7, 2008, Report No. 2008-05-IGA.

[2] NFPA 68, 2007. Standard on explosion protection by deflagration venting.

[3] Wirkner-Bott, L., Schumann, S., Stock, M., 1992. Flammen und Druckwirkung bei Explosionsdruckentlastung, VDI Berichte, 975.

[4] Wirkner-Bott, L., Schumann, S., Stock, M., 1992. "Dust explosion venting: investigation of the secondary explosion", 7th International Symposium on Loss Prevention and Safety Promotion in the Process Industries, Taormina, Italy.

[5] Wirkner-Bott, L., Schumann, S., Stock, M., 1993. Dust explosion venting: secondary explosion for vessel volumes up to 250 m3. Europex NewsLetters, 22.

[6] Schumann, S., Haas, W., Schmittberger, H., Rasogi, A. K., Fogt, H., Friehmelt, V., 1995. Measurement of pressure blast effects and fireball sizes from vented dust explosions: simulated experiments/large test cell. Dust Explosions, Protecting People, Equipment, Buildings and Environment, British Materials Handling Board, pp. 244-291.

[7] Crowhurst, D., Colwell, S. A., Hoare, D. P., 1995. "The external explosion characteristics of vented dust explosions", IChemE Symposium Series 139, pp. 79-96.

[8] Crowhurst, D., Colwell, S. A., 1995. Development of validated predictive methods so that the response of buildings and structures subjected to the effects arising from vented dust explosions can be. Dust Explosions, Protecting People, Equipment, Buildings and Environment, British Materials Handling Board, pp. 355-396.

[9] Forcier, T., Zalosh, R., 2000. External pressures generated by vented gas and dust explosions. Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries 13, pp. 411-417.

[10] Holbrow, P., Hawksworth, S. J., Tyldesley, A., 2000. Thermal radiation from vented dust explosions, Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries 13, pp. 467-476.

[11] Taveau, J., 2010. Correlations for blast effects from vented dust explosions. Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries 23, pp. 15-29.

[12] Bernard, L., Brodie, F., Ludwig, D., Ness, A., Weidner, K., 1998. Vent access restriction for solids handling systems. Process Safety Progress 17, pp. 16-19.

[13] Going, J. E., Chatrathi, K., 2003. Efficiency of flameless venting devices. Process Safety Progress 22, pp. 33-42.

[14] Barton, J., 2002. Dust explosion prevention and protection a practical guide, Institution of Chemical Engineers, Rugby, U. K & Gulf Professional Publishing, Butterworth-Heinemann, USA.

[15] Zalosh, R., 2005. "New developments in explosion protection technology", Fire and Emergency Services Asia, Singapore.

[16] Grossel, S. S., 2012. Design and operating practices for safe conveying of particulate solids. Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, In Press.

[17] Snoeys, J., 2008. Dust explosion protection using flameless venting. Fike internal note.

[18] Snoeys, J., Going, J. E., 2010. "Flame arresting devices for dust explosions", 8th International Symposium on Hazards, Prevention and Mitigation of Industrial Explosions, Yokohama, Japan, Paper 87.

[19] Snoeys, J., 2012. Meeting explosion safety requirements with flameless venting. Powder and Bulk Engineering.

[20] EN 16009, 2011. Flameless explosion venting devices.

[21] Eckhoff, R. K., 2003. Dust explosions in the process industries, 3rd edition, Gulf Professional Publishing, Elsevier Science, USA.

[22] Holbrow, P., 2006. Explosion protection using flameless venting: a review. Health and Safety Laboratory, Explosion Safety Unit, Report EC/05/50.

[23] Holbrow, P., 2011. "Dust explosion venting research", IChemE Symposium Series 156, pp. 583-587.

[24] Holbrow, P., 2012. Dust explosion venting of small vessels and flameless venting. Process Safety and Environment Protection, In Press.