Fires in large storage tanks represent a significant annual cost to the oil and chemical industries although the number of fires can be very low. There is the ever-present risk of fire spread to adjacent tanks and structures, and the possibility of tank collapse and rupture. Thus the financial losses are not only connected to the direct costs for the damage to the tank, its content and the fire fighting actions, but also to loss of production, the environmental clean-up and a 'public outrage' factor.
Because of the potential consequences, tank fires are of major concern to industry and large efforts are put into preventative measures and into fire fighting resources. For extinguishment of such fires, the use of fire fighting foam is the only practicable method.
However, lack of fundamental knowledge makes it difficult for the industry to judge the cost-effectiveness of investments, and for fire fighters to choose the most appropriate equipment, type of foam, and fire fighting techniques.
The objective and deliverable of the proposed project is to provide practical and useful information for extinguishment of tank fires. The work is focused on "over the top application" of foam, either by a fixed system or by mobile equipment, which are the most frequent methods of extinguishment used by the industry. The project will be divided into four technical work packages.
WP1) Practical scale characterisation of foam jets.
WP2) Laboratory and small scale characterisation of foam properties.
WP3) Modelling of foam spread on the burning fuel surface to enable prediction of extinguishment in full scale applications.
WP4) Collation of the findings as guidance for industry and fire fighters and for updating of standards for the extinction of tank fires.
Each of the first three addresses the key information needed to understand and model the extinguishing process, while the final work package collates the knowledge gained in order to prepare guidance for the extinction of tank fires.
The objective of gaining an understanding of the problems associated with fighting fires in large storage tanks directly complies with the stated objectives of the E&C work programme, section 18.104.22.168 (Industrial safety) and the research task 1 of sub-section a; "Better understanding of the extinguishment mechanisms of fire fighting media when applied to large pool fires based on modelling and experimental work, addressing the issues of the effects of thermal updraft, flow on the fuel surface and resistance to heat radiation".
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
LA2 7NA High Bentham