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Comment PDF Environment, Health, Safety & Security

Preventing Fires and Explosions in Pilot Plants

By Richard Palluzi ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co |

    Among pilot plants, those in petrochemical or petroleum-refining service pose special risks of fire and/or explosion. The key strategies to minimize those risks are these: properly conducted preconstruction safety reviews; leaktight design and construction; close attention to area electrical classification; well-designed ventilation; well-planned storage; properly conducted maintenance; and strictly followed procedures for the control of change. Intelligent application of those seven strategies can be aided by a closer look at just why petrochemical and refining pilot facilities are so risky. • They routinely handle significant volumes of flammable materials, many at elevated temperatures and pressures. While most pilot plants deal with only small volumes of these materials at a given time, the overall quantity of flammable and combustible materials used and stored in most pilot plant areas is far from trivial • In comparison with full-scale process plants, pilot plants are usually characterized by a high density of operating equipment, so the risk to personnel is significant in the event of even a small fire or explosion • Pilot plants often involve novel operations, whose nature and hazards are imperfectly…
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