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Chemical Process Technology

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

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A fire is formed or a flame can sustains and propagate, three main elements shall present as defined in well known FIRE triangle. There are combustible material (or fuel), oxygen (O2) and heat. See following image. One additional characteristic shall also present is the potential of chain reaction to maintain continuous combustion before any of these three elements is removed. This speed of chain reactions define if a mixture is combustible (slow) or explosive (fast).

Minimum Oxygen Concentration (MOC)
Oxygen is common obtained from atmosphere. Standard air at Mean Sea Level (MSL) contains 20.95 vol% Oxygen (O2), 78.08 vol% Nitrogen (N2), 0.038 vol% Carbin Dioxide (CO2) and others inert gas i.e. Neon, Xenon, etc. Although Oxygen is the major component in generating fire, there is still a minimum oxygen concentration (MOC) required present in combustible mixture so that a fire can be initiated and propagated. Below this limit, a fire will not form.

Following MOC for some hydrocarbon common found in oil and gas plant.

MOC (Vol% O2)
Methane (C1)
Ethane (C2)
Ethylene (C2=)
Propane (C3)
Propylene (C3=)
Butane (C4)
1-Butene (C4=)
Pentane (C5)
Hexane (C6)
Benzene (Bz)
Carbon Disulfide

Base on this principle, a flare header is purged with hydrocarbon (i.e. fuel gas ) to evacuate air that ingressed via flare tip and stack in order to ensure quantity of oxygen level in the flare system is always below minimum oxygen concentration (MOC).

MOC For Flare Purge
From above table, you may noticed that MOC for majority of components are equal to or more than 10 vol% except Hydrogen (H2), Acethylene and Carbon Disulfide (CS2). It is recommended MOC of 6 vol% for flare purging design with 4 vol% as design margin. One shall remember plant releasing large amount of Hydrogen shall use lower MOC with margin i.e. 2 vol%. One of the example is Hydrogenation unit in Refinery plant.

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posted by Webworm, 9:40 PM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are these moc percentages in %O2/100% acethylene, or is there N2 involved as well?

May 24, 2010 at 12:23 PM  

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