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Process Safety
services include the investigation of explosions in the Chemical Process Industries and the implementation of design changes, process safety studies and HAZOP reviews.

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Heat Transfer

Flashback prevention helps cure thermal oxidizer explosions

System redesign improves safety and productivity

Chemical Processing, January 1997 - Rocky C. Costello, P.E.


A vertical thermal oxidizer was used in a Gulf Coast chemical plant to incinerate vapors from tank-truck cleaning, tank farm and batch distillation operations.

Over a period of 2 years, a number of explosions had occurred at the thermal oxidizer.  The last explosion was the most severe, resulting in the destruction of the spark-proof booster blower that drew air from the tank-truck filling and cleaning operations.

The normal procedure was to blanket the incoming truck with inert gas.  A special manway cover with connections for inert gas, inert gas exhaust, exhaust air for drying, and cleaning solvent was fitted to the tank truck.

This purged out all the air containing flammable hydrocarbons.  Once this inert purge cycle was completed, cleaning solvent was circulated via the manway to a cleaning head.  The solvent flowed from the discharge of the truck to a tank and was then pumped back to the cleaning head.


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