Control of Vapor Dispersion and Pool Fire of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) with Expansion Foam



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Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is flammable when it forms a 5 ? 15 percent volumetric concentration mixture with air at atmospheric conditions. When the LNG vapor comes in contact with an ignition source, it may result in fire and/or explosion. Because of flammable characteristics and dense gas behaviors, expansion foam has been recommended as one of the safety provisions for mitigating accidental LNG releases. However, the effectiveness of foam in achieving this objective has not been sufficiently reported in outdoor field tests. Thus, this research focused on experimental determination of the effect of expansion foam application on LNG vapor dispersion and pool fire. Specifically, for evaluating the use of foam to control the vapor hazard from spilled LNG, this study aimed to obtain key parameters, such as the temperature changes of methane and foam and the extent reduction of vapor concentration. This study also focused on identifying the effectiveness of foam and thermal exclusion zone by investigating temperature changes of foam and fire, profiles of radiant heat flux, and fire height changes by foam. Additionally, a schematic model of LNG-foam system for theoretical modeling and better understanding of underlying mechanism of foam was developed. Results showed that expansion foam was effective in increasing the buoyancy of LNG vapor by raising the temperature of the vapor permeated through the foam layer and ultimately decreasing the methane concentrations in the downwind direction. It was also found that expansion foam has positive effects on reducing fire height and radiant heat fluxes by decreasing fire heat feedback to the LNG pool, thus resulting in reduction in the safe separation distance. Through the extensive data analysis, several key parameters, such as minimum effective foam depth and mass evaporation rate of LNG with foam, were identified. However, caution must be taken to ensure that foam application can result in initial adverse effects on vapor and fire control. Finally, based on these findings, several recommendations were made for improving foam delivery methods which can be used for controlling the hazard of spilled LNG.