(55bl) A Mixed-Integer Programming Framework for Placement of Fire Detectors in Chemical Processing Facilities | AIChE

(55bl) A Mixed-Integer Programming Framework for Placement of Fire Detectors in Chemical Processing Facilities


Zhen, T. - Presenter, Purdue University
Laird, C. D., Sandia National Laboratories
In chemical processing plants, gas and fire detectors provide an important layer of protection for personnel. However, given the large variety of chemical and physical sensors and number of factors influencing their capabilities to successfully detect hazards, the decision of where to place sensors is challenging. Gas detectors (e.g. ultrasonic, catalytic bead) must be in contact with gas leaks to be effective, while fire detectors (e.g. point infrared, open path infrared, optical) require a visual path to the fire, free of obstructions, for successful detection. Numerical optimization techniques provide an opportunity to overcome these challenges and determine effective sensor placement.

The optimal gas detector placement problem was formulated by [1] as a stochastic program based on the p-median facility location problem and relied on scenarios generated from CFD simulations within a petrochemical facility. Their results showed that coupling coverage with expected detection time using a scenario-based method outperformed the existing coverage-only approaches and has inspired formulations based on MINLP approaches for non-uniform failure probabilities [2].

But while gas detectors must be placed in the path of gas leaks for effective detection, fire detectors must be placed within unobstructed visual distance of flames. The optimal placement of visual fire detectors in processing plants can be particularly difficult due to the large number of physical obstructions (e.g. piping, valves, tanks).

This work focuses on an optimization formulation for placement of fire (visual) detectors. The scenario-based, p-median approach demonstrated by [1] for gas detectors is translated to a maximum coverage model for fire detectors in a 3D space with consideration to failure probabilities. We show that this approach allows for the placement of fire detectors for a fixed sensor budget while under uncertainty. We demonstrate the effectiveness of this formulation on several case studies. We further discuss how the framework is readily scalable for larger problem sizes and amenable to various objectives.

We would like to thank the Purdue Process Safety and Assurance Center for their support in this work.


[1] Legg, S. W., Benavides-Serrano, A. J., Siirola, J. D., Watson, J. P., Davis, S. G., Bratteteig, A., and Laird, C. D. (2012). A stochastic programming approach for gas detector placement using CFD-based dispersion simulations. Computers and Chemical Engineering, 47:194–201.

[2] Liu, J., and Laird, C.D., A Global Stochastic Programming Approach for the Optimal Placement of Gas Detectors with Nonuniform Unavailabilities, to appear in Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, 2017.