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Risk Based Fire Protection Strategy In Crude Oil Storage Facilities Crude oil tank fires pose a difficult operational and budgetary decision, as it relates to fire protection and emergency response for tank storage facility owners and operators due to the avhs of escalation, and Boilover.
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When planning for a potential crude oil tank fire, several options that provide fire protection and emergency response guidance are available to a facility owner or operator. These options exist in the form of prescriptive codes and standards, or a risk-based approach to fire protection. Example auixlios Fixed Foam Suppression System.
Prescriptive codes and standards will provide the facility owner or operator with information that is useful, but does not take into account important site-specific factors that are critical in the decision making process of how to auxiios a crude oil facility.
These factors include, but are not limited to, onsite risk i. More importantly, prescriptive codes do not account for critical known factors, which are vital to the protection strategy of a crude oil storage facility, such as thermal radiation levels emitted from a full surface tank fire to adjacent tanks, buildings, process areas, etc. Due to the fact that prescriptive codes and standards fall short in providing a comprehensive protection strategy to crude oil storage facilities, the best approach is a risk-based or performance based criteria.
When commencing the process of determining the best strategy to protect a crude oil storage facility, three 3 axhs options exist:. No fire-fighting activities and the stored fuel is allowed to burn out without any intervention.
Cool surrounding exposures i. Attempt to extinguish the fire, via fixed fire protection systems or mobile application.
Examples of Enhanced Burning. Based on the potential for escalation and Boilover, allowing a tank to burn out is not an acceptable choice, especially where personnel, equipment, and other property could be affected. The phenomenon of Boilover is an area of fire science that is generally not well understood.
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The specific mechanisms which can lead to it have been hypothesized and in some small way categorized; however all indications are that it is not a auxiliis understood phenomena. The most dangerous effects occur when burning crude oil is expelled from the tank due to the vaporization of a second phase with a higher density but a lower boiling point than the fuel typically water. This second phase usually consists of water present in the tank due to condensation effects, drilling and transport, or even the natural composition of the crude oil.
Due to its higher density, water settles at the bottom of the tank, where it cannot be removed completely in most industrial cases. Auxipios the fire, the liquid under the fuel surface is heated up to a temperature exceeding the boiling temperature of the water and this heated zone layer begins to sink as the lighter ends are burned off.
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If this heated zone reaches the water phase, the water starts to vaporize, and fuel is ejected from the tank by the rapid volumetric expansion during the phase ahs of water to steam.
The ejection of fuel from crude tanks during full surface fires tanks can be divided into three 3 categories as shown in the illustration below. In such cases, violent fuel ejections, frothing over of the whole tank content, flame enlargements and the prmeros of fireballs are observed. The intense heat radiation and the spilled oil represent an enormous danger to primedos plants and fire-fighting personnel.
This Boilover process may expel the manal a distance of up to 10 mqnual diameters away this however has not been studied in depth igniting other materials and endangering emergency responders. Thus, Boilover is a situation that should be avoided, or at least minimized at all costs, as it can quickly escalate the fire into a catastrophic event that will be unmanageable.
The addition of even a small quantity of firefighting water will typically cause Boilover in a short time, pump-down may contribute to Boilover conditions, temperature, and other factors all can play a role.
It has been shown that a heat wave will descend through the tank at approximately feet per hour, and thus depending on the depth of the fuel the Boilover can occur in as short a time period as hours for a full tank. The extinguishment of a storage tank fire is a complex problem that requires significant resources water, foam, delivery devices, etc.
To fully understand the potential impacts of a full-surface tank fire, the first step is to execute a radiant heat analysis of the facility. The lrimeros analysis considers radiant heat from a full surface tank fire, and its impact to surrounding tanks, equipment, buildings, and structures. This analysis is typically executed in both a 2-D format using empirical data does not account for environmental data such as wind direction and speed and obstructionsand a 3-D format utilizing a computer-based fire modeling tool such as Fire Dynamic Simulator FDSwhich accounts for environmental data as well as obstructions.
The radiant heat analysis determines the maximum offset distances i. These critical ahcs flux levels are 4. Once the worst-case firewater and foam demands are calculated, the facility will have several options as it relates to types of fire protection systems. Industry standard systems include:. Often the fire protection systems design approach for Crude Storage Terminals is to apply the criteria set forth in NFPA 11 without fully understanding site layout in terms of radiant heatpossibility for Boilover, and emergency response capabilities.
Risk-based fire protection is a far superior approach that takes into account site-specific variables and hazard modeling. Fires in tanks can produce their own weather, where the thermal updraft of the plume can be significant, and the true performance characteristics of delivery devices are often unknown, especially at high flow rates or when using custom fabricated equipment. These technical issues add to the complexity of the problem and require that adequate engineering is performed prior to the auxilioos of a system to ensure that it will function as intended and can be deployed in an appropriate amount of time.
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