Experimental and Numerical Study of an Air Lock Purging System
Pontiggia, M.
Derudi, M.
Paci, P.
Busini, V.
Rota, R.
Uguccioni, G.
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Pontiggia M., Derudi M., Paci P., Busini V., Rota R., Uguccioni G., 2015, Experimental and Numerical Study of an Air Lock Purging System, Chemical Engineering Transactions, 43, 2473-2478.
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High concentrations of H2S in offshore wells represent a major concern for personnel safety: if a significant external H2S contamination occurs, depending on wells and process conditions, it may prove impossible an effective evacuation, and thus Temporary Refuge (TR) provisions must be set-up to provide prompt availability of safe and reliable protection to personnel. Air Locks (ALs) to enter the TR may be necessary to ensure isolation of the safe internal environment when entering into the TR. ALs modelling is essential to verify that sufficient time for entering the TR is available to all personnel in case of accident. Nevertheless, due to the extreme conditions (high toxicity, short characteristic times, high purging air velocity etc.), experimental modeling of the AL can prove difficult and very expensive. Given the importance of ALs efficiency in a real emergency situation, simulation of its performances in realistic condition and optimization of the design of air purges to ensure the required efficiency is a factor of extreme importance for the overall safety of the installation. In this work, the purging efficiency of a typical AL has been analyzed through a combined approach of experimental tests and CFD simulations, to prove the capability of CFD modeling to analyse real AL conditions. A scaled model have been realized and analyzed using CO2 as tracing gas to determine the concentration field; even if the realization constraints above mentioned do not allow for a full scaling of all the involved variables, fluid-dynamic conditions have been set to reproduce real AL purging capabilities as close as possible. Experimental results have been used for a fine tuning and validation of the CFD tool in an operative range close to a real configuration, through the comparison of the obtained flow and concentration fields with those predicted by the CFD simulations of the experimental set-up. Subsequently, the tuned CFD approach has been used to simulate a typical AL and to check its performances.
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