(57ba) How to Leverage Limted Design Data Along with Historical Incident Data to Assess Inherent Process Safety During Early Stage of Design?

Eljack, F. T., Qatar University
Kazi, M. K., Qatar University
AlNouss, A., Qatar University
Inherent safety level quantification remains as one of the challenges for the inherent safety concept to gain industrial acceptance comprehensively. In current practice, most of the time safety assessment is conducted once the process design has been completed. At this stage of design implemented strategies look to control the hazard level. Any design modification necessary as a result of unfavorable safety performance at this stage of design, would be costly when compared to alteration during conceptual design stage [1]. It is beneficial to design industrial processes that are user friendly, inherently safer and have a level of tolerance for the deviations from ideal performance, which will eventually reduce the number of hazardous accidents. Therefore, both industrial experts and researchers are interested in safety indices that can be applied during the early design stage of a process, where the extent of knowledge regarding the process is very limited. Again, the available indices to quantify inherent safety still leave room for enhancement to represent process stream condition more accurately as a mixture rather than pure component(s) and to account for the interaction of all process parameters in determining the level of inherent safety [2].

In this work, a property based methodology to quantify inherent safety level has been proposed by assessing chemical and process unit risk at earlier stage of design. This will assist process designers in producing safer designs by the application of inherent safety principles in a more efficient and cost effective manner. It would offer process/design engineers an alternative to include safety without waiting until detailed design stage, where safety costs increase. Degrees of freedom at this stage would include alternative route selection, equipment sizing, and selection of operating conditions. The additional benefit of safety consideration in the early design stages is that it decreases the level of dependence on safety systems. The proposed safety assessment method here considers the perspective of five main safety factors associated with chemicals such as flammability, explosiveness, corrosiveness, toxicity & reactivity. These factors were linked to the process operating conditions (temperature and pressure). The process unit risk are calculated by classifying them into six main categories (i.e., pump, fired heat exchanger, pressure vessels, etc.) based on API 14C standard and identifying the undesirable events associated with each category. Major incidents database and the probability of unwanted incidents were used to link the undesirable events to operating conditions; this allows for the calculation of unit safety factors using the limited available information. Lastly, an enhancement technique to reflect the contribution of the individual components in the mixture is introduced based on the mixture properties, where the severity score was calculated for the mixture of chemicals in each unit at the actual operating conditions (whenever applicable) and multiplied by the flow rate of the mixture.

This proposed methodology of safety assessment gives a more intuitive, easy-to-understand way to represent the chemical and equipment safety factors posed by each individual unit. The steps in the methodology calculate, compare and prioritize the level of inherent safety of process streams during simulation work that influences the abovementioned safety factors in order to offer the user an insight into the risk associated with alternative design decisions. By prioritizing the streams based on the potential for chemical and equipment safety factors, the design engineers can easily identify the critical streams/units to be considered for improvement in order to avoid or minimize the risk. This methodology of quantifying inherent safety level will provide users another dimension to consider when selecting optimal design with multi objectives (e.g. techno, economic, and environmental).

The assessment of inherent safety level using the proposed method is demonstrated through a case study. HYSYS simulation is used to design two alternative designs for ammonia production.

1. Thiruvenkataswamy, P., et al., Safety and techno-economic analysis of ethylene technologies. Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, 2016. 39: p. 74-84.

2. Leong, C.T. and A.M. Shariff, Process route index (PRI) to assess level of explosiveness for inherent safety quantification. Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, 2009. 22(2): p. 216-221.