CFD modeling of LPG vessels under fire exposure conditions



Fire exposure of tanks used for the storage and transportation of liquefied gases under pressure may cause complex heat- and mass-transfer phenomena that may contribute to compromise the integrity of the vessels in accident scenarios. Heat transfer through vessel lading results in the heat-up of the internal fluid and the increase of vessel internal pressure. However, local temperature gradients in the liquid phase cause liquid stratification phenomena that result in a more rapid vaporization and pressure build-up in the liquid phase. These fundamental phenomena were analyzed by a computational fluid dynamic model. The model was specifically focused on the early steps of vessel heat-up, when liquid stratification plays a relevant role in determining the vessel internal pressure. A two-dimensional transient simulation was set up using ANSYS FLUENT in order to predict the evolution of the liquid and vapor phases during the tank heat up. The model was validated against large scale experimental data available for liquefied petroleum gas vessels exposed to hydrocarbon fires, and was applied to case studies derived from recent accidental events in order to assess the expected time of pressure build-up in different fire scenarios. © 2014 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J 60: 4292–4305, 2014