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author

Kelly Thomas
Don Ketchum
Quentin Baker

published on

April 2005

This paper addresses the potential for a loss of inerting to occur in a vessel with multiple exhaust vents due to air inleakage driven by natural convection. Air inleakage due to natural convection refers to flow induced by the density difference between the gas mixture inside the vessel and that in the exterior environment. Natural convection can result in the inleakage of air into an inerted vessel, despite the positive pressure induced by the purge gas flow.

An air inleakage model was developed to predict the natural convection air inleakage rate and corresponding oxygen concentration as a function of the vessel configuration, operating conditions, exterior environment conditions, and purge gas flow rate. Examples are provided to illustrate the range of oxygen concentrations that can result from air inleakage due to natural convection. Demonstration tests were conducted to illustrate natural convective flow under relevant conditions and provide data for comparison with the model predictions. The results of this work demonstrate that the presence of multiple exhaust vents on an inerted vessel can lead to the development of a significant oxygen concentration. In some cases, the resulting oxygen concentration can exceed the minimum level required to support combustion. If the vessel is inerted to prevent the formation of a flammable gas mixture (i.e., rather than solely for product quality control), then an explosion may result if an ignition source is present.

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Kelly Thomas

Don Ketchum

Quentin Baker