Process Safety Progress, Vol.17, No.3, 176-183, 1998
Application of the flammability diagram for evaluation of fire and explosion hazards of flammable vapors
The safest method to prevent fires and explosions of flammable vapors is to prevent the existence of flammable mixtures in the first place. This method requires detailed knowledge of the flammability region as a function of the fuel, oxygen and nitrogen concentrations. A triangular flammability diagram is the most useful tool to display the flammability region, and to determine if a flammable mixture is present during plant operations. This paper describes how to draw and use a flammability diagram. A procedure to estimate the flammability region using the available and sometimes limited data is discussed. I;The paper also shows how to use the flammability diagram with plant operations involving inerting and purging, and from bringing vessels into and out of service. A compilation of flammability diagrams for 30 materials, based on previously published data is provided. An automated apparatus for acquiring data for a flammability diagram is described. The apparatus consists of a 20-L sphere with an automated gas mixing system, a fuse-wire ignition system, and a high speed pressure measurement and data acquisition system. Data derived from the apparatus includes flammability limits, maximum pressure during combustion, and the maximum pressure rate. The effect of fuse-wire ignitor dynamics on the results is studied. A flammability diagram for methane drawn from data obtained from the apparatus, is presented.
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