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Lifting the Fog Off Hydrocarbon Mist Explosions

Abstract : Explosion hazards do not only include gases, vapors and dusts, but also mists. Indeed, previous incident surveys identified dozens of accidents related to hydrocarbon mists generation and ignition. The ongoing occurrence of mist explosions demonstrates the need to assess the relevance of the current approaches for the evaluation of the mist ATEX risks and to determine reliable and standardized safety parameters for hydrocarbon mists. For this study, different fluids with a high industrial interest were selected (e.g. ethanol, kerosene, and diesel) to be tested in a new apparatus based on the standardized 20L explosion sphere. A new fluid injection system was deployed using siphon/gravity-fed spray nozzles comprising a Venturi junction and proposing a wide variety of dispersion performances. This system was controlled using a specifically dedicated program, which ensures the versatility of the apparatus and its adaptability to the different liquids tested. It allows a fine control of the gas carrier flow, the liquid flow and both the injection and ignition times, which makes it possible to change the dilution rate for a desired droplet size distribution. The droplet size distribution (DSD) was determined for the various fluids dispersed into the 20L sphere. Several tests were performed to determine the minimum ignition energy (MIE), the lower explosivity limit (LEL), the maximum explosion pressure (Pmax) and the maximum rate of pressure rise (dP/dt max) of hydrocarbon mists. For instance, for a DSD centered at 55μm, a maximum pressure of 9.2 bar and maximum rate of pressure rise up to 600 bar.s-1 were found for ethanol. As for kerosene, for a DSD centered at 80μm, 8.8 bar and 570 bar.s-1 were found respectively. Experimental results obtained between the LEL and the stoichiometric concentration were compared with numerical data obtained with Chemical Equilibrium with Applications and showed that they were coherent with the theoretical calculations and that tests were at least performed up to the stoichiometric concentration. A sensitivity analysis was conducted to stress the influence of parameters such as the chemical nature of the fuel, the DSD, the ignition energy or the mist temperature (gas/mist ratio). For instance, tests performed on kerosene showed that as the DSD increases, the mist cloud becomes harder to ignite and hence the LEL increases. These first results already allow to propose a new protocol to determine safety parameters for hydrocarbon mists and provide tools to support the evaluation of mist ATEX risks.
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Submitted on : Friday, June 25, 2021 - 10:34:48 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, June 29, 2021 - 3:26:54 AM
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  • HAL Id : ineris-03270733, version 1

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Stéphanie El-Zahlanieh, Shyarinya Sivabalan, Benoît Tribouilloy, Tribouilloy Benoit, David Brunello, et al.. Lifting the Fog Off Hydrocarbon Mist Explosions. AIChE Spring Meeting 2021 & 17. Global Congress on Process Safety (GCPS), Apr 2021, Online, United States. ⟨ineris-03270733⟩

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