Winter Considerations for your Flame Arrestors:

Flame Arrestors are passive devices that require no external power to do their job which is to protect your equipment from flame flash back. All other options require some sort of power or human interface in order to function properly and are therefore subject to failure.

Remember that flame arrestors, like your other plant equipment need regular maintenance.

In the winter flame arrestors may plug and freeze off.

There are options to mitigate this.

1) Mount the arrestor on an angle of at least 45 degrees, this allows liquids to drain away from the cell element through a drain plug in the transition end of the arrestors.

2) Freeze protect the arrestor using some form of heat tracing. Remember this is only freeze protection and the goal here is to keep the arrestor just above freezing. Arrestors work by cooling the flame and if you keep them too warm the efficiency of the arrestor is reduced.

3) Monitor when to clean the cell by monitoring the pressure drop across the cell. Two connections for pressure transducers (one on each side of the cell) can be requested when purchasing the arrestor. We can provide a predicted pressure drop across the arrestor and the transducers can then be used to monitor the pressure drop, when it increases it is time to clean the cell.

4) Flame arrestor bypass using a Rupture Pin Valve. In the event the flame arrestor becomes plugged the Rupture Pin valve will buckle and the pressure will be relieved. A Rupture Pin Valve is not compromised by pressure fluctuations and the pressure increase from a flame front coming down the stack. The Rupture Pin valve will reseat in a closed position to prevent the flame from by passing the flame arrestor. As the pin is mounted external to the process it is easy to do regular visual checks to see if the valve has tripped, or you can install a proximity switch that will alarm if the RP Valve has opened. Changing the Rupture Pin is a simple 5- minute one person job to.

Rupture or Burst Disk Option is NOT recommended. Rupture disks are designed to fail in the direction of flow if the pressure increases over the set point. Fluctuations in pressure can cause the disk to fail prematurely. If a flame front comes down the stack the increased pressure can cause the disk to fail and allow the flame to circumvent the flame arrestor and access the equipment you are trying to protect.

Proper Venting of Storage Tanks:

Proper venting of oilfield storage tanks has always been a concern but recently environmental concerns and regulation changes have made it a priority. Below is a list of some of the equipment one can use on storage tanks to ensure proper venting is addressed: The list is in the correct order for set points from the lowest to the highest.

Blanket Valve VRU (Vapour Recovery Unit)

PVRV (Pressure Vacuum Relief Valve)

Thief Hatch EPRV (Emergency Pressure Relief Vent)

Proper venting must be looked at as system. The above listed devices have to be engineered so that their set points do not interfere with each other and that during normal operation no one device can cause a backpressure in the tank that will cause another device to open during normal operation. Frequently the tank is purchased from one supplier and comes with a thief hatch on it, the VRU from another supplier, the PVRV from another and the EPRV from another. An understanding of the interdependence of each device has been missed. How do we prevent this from happening? The best way is to contact someone who understands venting and can work with you to design your specific venting system that ensures there will be no interference between these devices.

Venting tanks is covered by API 2000 which is a guideline that supplies us with formulas to calculate both normal venting and emergency (fire case) venting. Normal venting is made up of two components, thermal venting and product movement in and out of the tank. Thermal venting is the effect of ambient temperatures on the product in the tank. Product movement is the maximum pump-in and pump-out rates for the tank. Emergency venting is usually based on wetted surface area. Emergency conditions such as a treater valve stuck or a malfunction of the blanketing system open should also be taken into consideration.

The blanket valve is set the lowest. This valve is to prevent the tank from developing a vacuum as well as providing a blanket gas (frequently N2) to replace oxygen in the tank, to prevent corrosion, or to prevent the vapour from reaching a flammable level.

The VRU is used to recover the vapours from the tank, knock out any liquid carry over, and either sends the vapours to a flare or back into the blanket system.

We suggest that if you are going to use a thief hatch you choose a lock down model with no venting capabilities. Some thief hatches can start to relieve vapours at 70% of set point. This may result in wasting valuable blanket gas, in increased emissions and perhaps odor complaints, and an ineffective use of the PVRV.

The PVRV should be sized according to API 2000 for your normal venting requirements. Correct sizing of the PVRV is important in order to mitigate fluttering of either the Pressure or Vacuum seats at maximum flow. Blanket gas failure can be calculated into the PVRV relieving rates to prevent the EPRV from opening if the blanket gas valve fails open.

The EPRV is the final defense in preventing tank damage due to over pressure situations. It should also be sized as per API 2000 and to ensure the pressure in the tank does not rises above the maximum design pressure of the tank. The set point must to be a minimum of 0.5 oz higher than the pressure in the tank when the PVRV is flowing the required amount.

These points will help you to design a proper operating venting system. A ZIRCO sales consultant would be happy to review the sizing program and help you to design your own system.


Tank blanketing valves are commonly used in tank storage systems where it is desirable to reduce the hazards associated with flammable liquids being vented to the atmosphere, to minimize product contamination from drawing air into the tank’s vapor space, to minimize evaporation losses (and therefore product losses), to minimize internal corrosion from air or moisture drawn into the tank and to prevent the tank from collapsing due to a vacuum condition.

Blanketing Valves are usually installed on top of a storage tank (along with a PVRV and an EPRV as required) and use the supply of high pressure gas to maintain a blanket of low pressure gas above the product in a storage tank. The Blanket Valve provides primary vacuum relief for the tank. It opens and supplies gas to the vapor space when pressure decreases below the valve’s set point, and reseals as the pressure increases to the set point. All blanket valves and tank venting equipment should be installed above the vapor space they are protecting. Blanket gas is usually non-flammable and chemically non-reactive when mixed with the vapors of the stored product. Nitrogen and Natural Gas are frequently used.

Blanketing a tank can be achieved in 2 ways; through a series of regulators that reduce the supply pressure to oz/in2, or through the use of a pilot operated blanket valve. When regulators are chosen, 2 to 3 regulators are used to step down the supply pressure. Between each of the regulators a pressure relief device is required to prevent the downstream regulator and ultimately the storage tank from damage in the event the regulator cannot withstand the full line pressure. Many systems using regulators either overshoot the set point or undershoot the set point resulting in the use of excessive blanket gas.

A pilot operated blanket valve replaces the series of regulators and pop valves with one valve. The main valve inlet connects to the high pressure gas supply and the valve outlet to the tank vapor space. A sense or pilot line runs from the tank vapor space to the valve’s sense port, thus supplying control pressure for the valve.

An important consideration is to understand how the set point on the valve is defined. The set point is defined as the pressure at which the valve closes on rising pressure; the valves will not overshoot this pressure. The valve can be set to be fully open at -0.2” water column below the set point, and to close at the set point. There will be a savings in blanket gas and the tank PVRV’s will only open during upset conditions.

Blanket valves can provide an option for a flow plug which limits the flow through them in case the valve fails open. Thus, the PVRV can be sized not only for the normal venting rate but also for the blanket valve failure rate.

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