Jet Fire Services for the Petroleum Industry

The Institute's jet fire facility, located in a 2,400-square-foot building with a 30-foot ceiling, is outfitted with 2,000-gallon storage tanks and a 20-by-20-foot exhaust hood able to remove 30,000 cubic feet of air per minute. A precision nozzle delivers gas jets approaching sonic velocities for realistic tests of pipes, structures, bulkheads, passive fire protection and insulation systems, critical service equipment, and emergency shutdown devices.

In a laboratory-style jet fire facility, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) simulates the intense jet fires that threaten offshore drilling rigs. The Institute's fire research facility in the Department of Fire Technology reproduces the effects of jet fires on offshore structures and components at a manageable scale and at a greatly reduced cost over full-scale tests. Unique in the U.S., our facility parallels the capabilities of the only similar facility, located in Europe.

In the high-pressure gas environments common to offshore platforms and production and handling land-based facilities, even very small leaks can produce large mass flow rates and massive flames, triggering fires and explosions. Now, offshore petrochemical manufacturers, suppliers, and designers can test to meet these regulations in the U.S., greatly reducing the time and high costs associated with shipping and testing overseas.

The devastation that can follow high-pressure gas leaks is caused by intense heat flux and high-velocity direct flame blasts. The SwRI jet fire facility simulates failures in high-pressure hydrocarbon piping systems and allows controlled tests of a number of flammable mixtures, at flow rates in excess of 0.4 kg/sec, for unlimited durations.

The facility features computer-based data acquisition and is instrumented with quick-response thermocouples, high-frequency pressure transducers, total heat flux calorimeters, a laser interferometer, and jet velocity probes. SwRI provides thermal imaging, videotaping, and high-speed still photography of tests in progress.

The SwRI Department of Fire Technology is one of the world's largest organizations devoted to fire research and testing.

This flyer was originally published in January 1997. For more information about jet fire services for the petroleum industry, contact Jeremy McDonald, Fire Technology Department, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Division, Southwest Research Institute, P.O. Drawer 28510, San Antonio, Texas 78228-0510, Phone (210) 522-3971, Fax (210) 522-3377.

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