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Solvent Extraction Plants - Fire Suppression considerations

Fire Suppression for Solvent Extraction plants is not an easy measure.  Over the years fire suppression specialists have been struggling find a best fit fire suppression solution to the solvent extraction production facilities.

Many studies have been carried out based on the history of past fire thought the globe in SX plants. 


Common facts are:-

  • Solvent Extraction plants are considered as a Class 1 Division 1 Risk
  • Due to the above the fire risks are highly probable from a spark
  • Static is a major problem due to the synthetic material used for piping etc
  • High Ambient Temperatures
  • It is also said that if a fire starts and not extinguished in the fire few minutes from ignition, that the entire SX plant will be completely burnt out within 6 - 24 hours, regardless of the fire fighting resources available.
  • Fire risks within the piping, due to open spaces and flammable vapours  being formed in the open spaces of the pipe work

Risks Explained

Class I - Is considered to be a hazardous location with presence of flammable vapours or gases

Class II - Is considered to be a hazardous location with presence of Dust

Class III - Is considered to be a hazardous location with presence of fibres

Division 1 - Normal risk, meaning that it is at risk under normal operation
Division 2 - Abnormal risk, a potential risk arising from something that is not a normal condition

The case of a Solvent Extraction (SX) Plant, the Class I, Division 1 is always there due to the nature of operation and the ever existing presence of flammable gases and vapours under normal operating conditions.

Fire Protection/Suppression solutions

There are three ways to extinguish a fire in an SX Plant, however it is not as simple as selecting any particular method.  Many other considerations should be considered, i.e. is this a total flood fire suppression solution or local application solution. 

Operational considerations should also be taken into account, to ensure safety to personnel when the area's are being maintained and cleaned.

If it is a local application, where the protected space is contained only, weather conditions should be considered, as most SX plants are exposed to the elements in some way or the other.

  1. Foam

  2. Watermist fire suppression systems

  3. INERTING, i.e. CO2, IG55, IG541 fire suppression systems


A design should to take the following into consideration

1) The speed of operation of a fire suppression solution
2) The safety of personal
3) The ambient conditions surrounding the plant
4) Contamination to the solvent solutions
5) The spread of fire with water being a transport medium for the solvent solution
6) Prevention of allowing the fire to spread to other parts of the flant
7) Cooling and INERTING
8) Static strapping
9) The location of the mine with the resources available to sustain operation of pumps etc
10)  Protection of the electrical signalling due to the rapid high heat generated a fire within these plants
 

For further information regards fir suppression systems for Solvent Extraction plants, please contact Alan Hughes on +44(0)1179602277 or click here for more contact information

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