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Heat Transfer Fluid Leaks: Break the Fire Triangle

By Conrad E. Gamble and Matthias Schopf, Solutia Inc. |

Management of process plants requires the understanding and application of the fundamental tenets of safe design, construction, and operation of each facility. In that context, many years of practical experience with systems that use very high-temperature organic heat-transfer media has led to much knowledge regarding design features to adopt and those that should not be repeated.  For the media itself, the severe stresses of extreme operating temperatures involved can sometimes narrow the number of candidate fluids to one: the eutectic mixture of diphenyl and diphenyl oxide (DP:DPO; Figure 1). This article shares best practices that have been developed over the years to ensure the safest possible use of this heat transfer fluid (HTF). Effective methods to identify and determine the order of magnitude of leaks are discussed. Meanwhile, a review of the concepts necessary for effectively maintaining a leak-tight system is presented. And, for occasions in which unexpected leaks do occur, a thorough explanation of the fire risk is offered and approaches that can minimize ignition potential and property damage are addressed.        Figure 1. Extreme operating temperatures sometimes narrow the number of candidate…
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