Risk analysis of LPG tanks at the wildland-urban interface
Tutor / director / evaluatorPastor Ferrer, Elsa
Document typeMaster thesis
Rights accessOpen Access
In areas of wildland-urban interface (WUI), especially residential developments, it is very common to see liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanks, particularly with a higher ratio of propane, in surface installations serving homes. The most common tanks are between 1 and 5 m3 of capacity, but smaller ones of less than 1 m3 are more frequent. In case of accident, installations may be subject to fires and explosions, especially in those circumstances where legal and normative requirements allow very close exposure to flames from vegetable fuel near LPG tanks. In this project, it is intended to do a comprehensive diagnosis of the problem, addressing the compilation of information on real risk scenarios in historical fires. First, a preliminary presentation of the properties and characteristics of liquefied petroleum gas will be exposed. Its physical and chemical properties, production methodology, pressure and temperature diagrams and important considerations will be defined when using this type of substances in a storage tank of a certain volume. Next, a review of the situation of the existence of LPG tanks in the urban forest interfaces will be exposed. In this case, the main accidents caused by problems with the storage of LPG will be analyzed taking into account the relevance of BLEVE events in this type of incidents. To do this, the main scenarios that could take place in the event of a fire will be presented. Next, the existing legislation on the storage of LPG in these environments in some Mediterranean countries will be studied. In order to develop a comprehensive analysis, the main safety measures and distances will be considered, as well as the awareness of the possibility of vegetation material in the vicinity of LPG storage tanks, which is the main problem that will arise in a possible BLEVE scenario in case of fire. To finalize and facilitate understanding, a comparative table will be included with the aim of visualizing the main advantages and legislative deficiencies between the different countries. Following, the state of the art in terms of modelling LPG accidents at the WUI will be reviewed. Trying to simulate and predict this type of scenarios, it will see the models normally chosen to obtain the tolerable values selected and the answers obtained in each case. Finally, several fire scenarios will be simulated by means of a CFD tool (FDS, Fire Dynamics Simulator). In these simulations, the wind velocity and the distance of the combustible vegetal mass to the tank will be controlled in a WUI fire in which there is a tank of fixed dimensions. The temperature and the heat flow in each of the scenarios will be obtained, and the differences among the location of the sensors and the characteristics of the scenario will be analyzed. As a conclusion, it has been observed that there is a great amount of variables that are not contemplated by the regulatory organisms and that the existing legislation does not guarantee the safety of the population in this type of environment. From the simulations results, variables as temperature should be studied for further characterizations.