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RESEARCH PAPERS

# On the Transition From Non-BLEVE to BLEVE Failure for a $1.8M3$ Propane Tank

[+] Author and Article Information
A. M. Birk, J. D. J. VanderSteen

Department of Mechanical Engineering,  Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

J. Pressure Vessel Technol 128(4), 648-655 (Apr 19, 2006) (8 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2349579 History: Received April 17, 2006; Revised April 19, 2006

## Abstract

A series of fire tests were conducted on nine, $1.8m3$$(500USgal)$ ASME code propane pressure vessels to study the significance of pressure relief valve behavior on tank survivability to fire impingement. In these tests three tanks ruptured (i.e., finite failure) and six boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion (BLEVEd) (total loss of containment). The difference between the BLEVE and non-BLEVE failures was due to a difference in the fire conditions. It is believed that these tests show some insight into the BLEVE process. In all tests the fire consisted of an array of nominal $590kW$$(2MBTU∕h)$ liquid propane burners. A pool fire was not used because of the uncontrolled nature of open pool fires. It was believed that very repeatable fire conditions could be achieved by using a series of burners. In the tests where the outcome was a non-BLEVE there were two burners mounted $30cm$ above the tank on the tank vapor space. These burners were used to weaken the steel and to initiate a failure. To heat the liquid, there were between 4 and 12 burners applied below the liquid level. When one burner was added on the vapor space, all of the remaining tanks BLEVEd. This was true over a range of fill levels (at failure) of between 10% and 50% by volume. It is believed this added burner was just enough to weaken the tank so that any initial rupture would grow towards a total loss of containment and BLEVE. This paper presents the details of this test series and shows how severely heated length and liquid energy affected the outcome.

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## Figures

Figure 1

Bleve map for 400liter tank (see Ref. 1)

Figure 2

1.9M3 tank with burners (2001 tests with three vapor space burners and ten liquid space burners)

Figure 3

Sketch of tank showing 2000 series test setup (two vapor space burners and 12 liquid space burners)

Figure 4

Typical pressure versus time plots

Figure 5

Average of measured vapor space wall temperatures under burners

Figure 6

Average vapor temperature for various blowdowns (2001 tests)

Figure 7

Average liquid temperature for various blowdowns (2001 tests)

Figure 8

Tank fill versus failure time

Figure 9

Tank pressure versus liquid temperature at failure

Figure 10

Tank lading energy versus failure time

Figure 11

Average wall temperature versus number of vapor space burners

Figure 12

Folias crack tip stress ratio versus liquid energy at failure (data from tests of 500gal tank and 100gal tank (see Ref. 1)

Figure 13

Temperature modified folias crack tip stress ratio versus liquid energy at failure (data from tests of 500gal tank and 100gal tank (see. Ref. 1)

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