(57az) Studying the Relationship Between Inherently Safer Design and Equipment Reliability

Ade, N., Texas A&M University
Mannan, S., Texas A&M University
Liu, G., Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center
Risk associated with a process depends on both likelihood and consequence of an incident. Inherently safer design is based on the use of technologies and chemicals with intrinsic properties that reduce or eliminate hazards. This philosophy is mainly focused on reducing the consequences associated with an incident. However, recent research has revealed that applying principles of inherent safety can have an effect on the likelihood element of risk as well. One of the major drawbacks of implementation of an inherently safer design (ISD) is that it can lead to risk migration, Thus, attempting risk reduction through implementation of ISD by mitigating the consequence element of risk can undesirably lead to an increase in risk by affecting the likelihood element of risk. This likelihood element of risk is the mathematical complement of system reliability. This study mainly focuses on assessing the effect of implementation of ISD principles on the reliability of a chemical process as it progresses along different stages of process design and manipulating this relationship to achieve maximum economic benefits while simultaneously minimizing risk associated with the process.

In this study, safety indices are used for quantification of inherent safety of a process. The choice of safety index depends on the stage of chemical project under consideration. Reliability of an equipment involved in a process is determined through the use of offshore and onshore reliability data (OREDA) and center for chemical process safety (CCPS) reliability databases for process equipment. The reliability of process system is then determined from the reliability of the individual equipment involved in the process. Lastly knowing values of safety indices and reliability of systems for competing designs during different stages of a chemical project (such as process selection stage, conceptual stage etc.), the required relationship between ISD and reliability is established for that particular stage.

Applying this methodology to process selection stage reveals that selecting a process that’s inherently safer in terms of the involved reactions, chemicals and equipment might lead to risk migration, since the selected process might have lesser system reliability as compared to other competing process. When this methodology is applied to conceptual stage, where-in the competing processes are similar in terms of reactions and chemicals and vary only in terms of the equipment involved, it is observed that a process that has lesser number of equipment might be more reliable and inherently safer as compared to other competing processes. Lastly, when this methodology is applied for a specific equipment such as a reactor where the reliability is modeled as a function of design parameters of the reactor, it has been observed that within a certain range of design parameters, the reactor becomes sufficiently reliable and inherently safer.

Thus, this study provides a framework for designing of process systems and equipment that are reliable, economically profitable and inherently safer during different stages of project.