Alcohol-ester mixtures and, among them, ethanol-ethyl acetate mixtures are widely used as solvents in the packaging industry. For the safe use of such mixtures, it is essential to characterize their explosion behavior. Specifically, knowledge is required about maximum pressure and the maximum rate of pressure rise (i.e., the deflagration index), which are among the most important parameters for the assessment of process hazards and the safe design of process equipment. To this aim, in this work, closed-vessel explosion tests were carried out for an ethanol-ethyl acetate composition (mole fraction of ethanol in ethanol + ethyl acetate equal to 0.62) of interest to the packaging industry, varying the fuel/air equivalence ratio from 1.0 to 1.7. Tests were also extended to ethanol/air and ethyl acetate/air to quantify the effects of the possible interaction between the two fuels in the mixture. All tests started from 25°C and 1 bar.
Experimental results show that, as the fuel equivalence ratio is increased, a transition occurs from a regime in which synergistic effects arise making the explosion behavior of ethanol-ethyl acetate more severe (i.e., making the rate of explosion pressure rise of ethanol-ethyl acetate higher) than both ethanol and ethyl acetate, to a regime in which, as a result of a completely different interaction between ethanol and ethyl acetate, the explosion behavior of their mixture is less severe than both the individual components. The maximum rate of pressure rise falls within an intermediate regime in which non-linear interaction effects substantially disappear and, thus, the value of deflagration index for the mixture can be obtained by averaging the values of the two fuels according to their molar proportions.