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Chemists And Mathematicians Will Withstand Pressure Together


Unfortunately, reactions going with extensive calorification and/or participation of unstable components and reaction products are not infrequent in chemistry. Here lies potential hazard of chemical manufacturing. Even minor deviations from technology and simply changes in reagents’ storage or transportation conditions, to say nothing about hazard situations, for instance, sudden power outages, may result in unexpected consequences. Therefore, emergency events evolution in the most inconceivable situation of chemical manufacturing should be considered in advance and an appropriate protection system should be elaborated. The saying that “forewarned is forearmed” is true in chemistry like nowhere else.

The new generation of chemical manufacturing protection systems is being developed by researchers from the Russian Research Center “Applied Chemistry” in cooperation with the Open Joint Stock Company “Khiminform” and foreign colleagues from the “Berwanger” company. In the course of the project which is sponsored by the CRDF international foundation and Rosnauka, the authors plan to design the software that would not only allow to discover trouble spots in manufacturing processes at the chemical and petrochemical industry enterprises, but also to ensure safety of these processes. This deals with equipment protection from abnormal high pressures in case of emergency, in other words – i.e., this deals with explosions and the ways to fight with them.

Naturally, chemical plants use double and triple security circuits now, as professionals put it, particularly in the most potentially hazardous sections of manufacturing process. However, what these trouble spots requiring additional protection are gets sometimes apparent only when the process is already beyond control. However, explosion is not the price to be paid in order to learn how the equipment would behave in emergency event. This is certainly obvious. As well as the fact that chemical and physical processes proceeding in the damaged reactor are so complicated that the researchers have failed so far to forecast them and particularly to develop really efficient equipment to protect reactors from explosion.

Apparently, the problem can not be solved without mathematical modelling. Only electronic brain (with its memory, speed of operation, ability to consider a multitude of parameters influencing the development of processes in the chemical reactor) is capable of solving such a complicated and multidimensional problem. However, the computer’s enormous capabilities are not enough. Software is also required which has not been in place so far due to the task complexity.

More precisely, some rather efficient software packages have been developed recently. On the other hand, this software package called “Pressure Protection Manager” (developed by the US “Berwanger” company) is intended particularly to design pressure release systems for oil, gas and petrochemical manufacturing. Alas, this program does not allow to analyze chemical processes. But there is another program – developed in Russia by the specialists of the Russian Research Center “Applied Chemistry” (St. Petersburg) and their colleagues from “Khiminform”.

It is called “Batch Stirred Tank” and is designed to simulate thermal explosion in chemical reactors. “The majority of researchers and engineers of our Institute involved in this project have already participated in researches of hazards of thermal explosion in manufacturing, storage and application of explosives, says Arkady Kossoy, deputy project manager. When developing the BST systems we used the experience in simulating various emergency scenarios based on thorough investigation of kinetics of proceeding reactions jointly with the heat-mass exchange processes. Having combined capabilities of these two approaches – ours and the one developed by the US specialists – I am sure we shall be able to develop the software, which in the future would allow to protect the equipment from explosion in the chemical and petroleum-refining and pharmaceutical industries - everywhere, where explosions in reactors are possible and protection from them is required.”

Sergey Komarov | alfa
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