In the 1999 addenda to the 1998 ASME pressure vessel code, Section VIII, Div. 1 there was a change in design margin for unfired pressure vessels from 4.0 to 3.5. This has resulted in the manufacture of propane and LPG tanks with thinner walls. For example, the author has purchased some new 500 gallon ASME code propane tanks for testing purposes. These tanks had the wall thickness reduced from 7.7 mm in 2000 to 7.1 mm in 2002 and now to 6.5 mm in 2004. These changes were partly due to the code change and partly due to other factors such as steel plate availability. In any case, the changes in wall thickness significantly affects the fire survivability of these tanks. This paper presents both experimental and computational results that show the effect of wall thickness on tank survivability to fire impingement. The results show that for the same dank diameter, tank material, and pressure relief valve setting, the thinner wall tanks are more likely to fail in a given fire situation. In severe fires, the thinner walled tanks will fail earlier. An earlier failure usually means the tank will fail with a higher fill level, because the pressure relief system has had less time to vent material from the tank. A higher liquid fill level at failure also means more energy is in the tank and this means the failure will be more violent. The worst failure scenario is known as a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion and this mode of failure is also more likely with the thinner walled tanks. The results of this work suggest that certain applications of pressure vessels such as propane transport and storage may require higher design margins than required by Section VIII ASME code.
The Effect of Reduced Design Margin on the Fire Survivability of ASME Code Propane Tanks
Contributed by the Pressure Vessels and Piping Division for publication in the JOURNAL OF PRESSURE VESSEL TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received by the PVP Division February 26, 2004; revision received August 30, 2004. Associate Editor: M. D. Rana.
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Birk, A. M. (March 15, 2005). "The Effect of Reduced Design Margin on the Fire Survivability of ASME Code Propane Tanks." ASME. J. Pressure Vessel Technol. February 2005; 127(1): 55–60. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.1845476
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