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The Need for Passive Fireproofing in our Industrial Technological Facilities By Athan Oparaji 

On average 3.9 million fires are reported globally (source: CTIF report 22, World Fire Statistics 2018) and every year fire accounts for one death per 100,000 people globally (source: International Association of Fire and Rescue Services).

Industrial facilities comprise chemical and petrochemical plants, steel mill industries, nuclear, thermal power plants and general plants in onshore and offshore fields.

Of all these above,Oil and Gas facilities are one of the most sensitive places to work as they require the highest standards of safety. You can understand better if you know about the Piper Alpha Disaster which occurred on 6 July,1988. 167 men died and many more were injured and traumatised. According to the article dated on 6th July 2018 by Fiona McLeod and Stephen Richardson at Chemical Engineering Magazine which was first published in IChem’s Loss Prevention Bulletin(LPB),the world’s biggest offshore oil disaster affected 10% of UK oil production and led to financial losses of an estimated £2 billion (the equivalent of US$ 5 billion today).

Piper Alpha was an oil production platform in the North Sea approximately 120 miles North-East of Aberdeen, Scotland, that was operated by Occidental Petroleum Limited.

Another case study is from the article: “The Long View on Longford” written by Trish  Kerin- Director IChemE Safety Centre and Andrew Hopkins, the award winning emeritus professor and internationally renowned consultant in the field of industrial safety and accident analysis. Andrew Hopkins, who was an expert witness at the investigation into the disaster, found that the Australia’s infamous gas explosion which occurred on September 25,1998 killed two employees and eight more were injured.

So,to minimize these incidents of disaster to the lowest ebb,It’s a widely known global measure and precaution that for a job to be done, its safety must be guaranteed meaning “safety first” in any job. One of the multinational oil servicing companies this policy measure was observed in my working experience was at Baroid Plant Onne at Halliburton Energy Services Nigeria Limited.

So, what is fireproofing?

Fireproofing in an industrial facility may be defined as rendering a structural material such as piping,pipelines,reactors,storage tanks etc resistant to fire, incombustible or fireproof.It protects the steel substrate in the event of fire outbreak/excessive heat so that it does not reach its critical core or failure temperature as reaching the temperature alters the structural integrity of the steel causing fatigue. It is a fire protective measure.

There are two types of fire protection: Active fire and Passive fire protection.

Active fire protection is a corrective measure while Passive fire protection is a proactive measure. But because prevention is better than cure makes my focus here on the Passive Fire Protection in industrial facilities more relevant.

Fireproofing a piping,pipeline or a steel structure which may contain cryogenic substances eg LH2,LHe,LCH3 ie substances whose normal temperature < -150 degrees Celsius protects the substrate in the event of fire outbreak/excessive heat which may cause catastrophic failures/accidents in industrial facilities is an important aspect of asset integrity management(AIM).

Because heat and fire coexist, fireproofing and insulation can be related in a simple equation as follows: Fireproofing (fire protection) + Thermal Insulation (heat resistant) = Energy Savings and Protection. Due to this coexistence between fire protection and heat resistance, Insulation becomes the general term for both types of protection as you can not talk about passive fireproofing without Insulation. Based on the context of the topic, Insulation can be thermal or electrical.Under the thermal insulation,we have the hot and cold(cryogenic) types of thermal insulation.

Brief history of fireproofing materials

Encasing structural steel in brick masonry or concrete to delay exposure to high temperatures was the norm.Historically, these masonry encasement methods use large amounts of heavy materials, thus greatly increase the load to the steel frame which can cause fatigue, fracture or buckling. Newer materials and methods have been developed to resolve this issue. The following lists the various methods of fireproofing steel structures in a complete encasement.

*Wrapping the steel substrate with gypsum plaster. This method is effective because gypsum plaster contains water crystals that are heat resistant,applying multiple layers of gypsum board around the substrate.

*Applying spray-on fireproofing around the steel structure . Also called spray-applied fire-resistive materials (SFRM) using air pressured spray gun, which can be made from gypsum plaster, mineral fibers mixed with inorganic binder.

* A cementitious formula using magnesium oxycholride cement,

*Enclosing the structure in sheet metal and fill with loose insulation.

*Hollow columns filled with liquid water or antifreeze. When part of the column is exposed to fire, the heat is dissipated throughout by the convection property of the liquid.

*Encasing the substrate in fibrous plasters or fiber reinforced plastics.

Recent Alternative methods

Intumescent coating fireproofing products have expanded for example: Jotun’s Jotachar JF750. These fireproofing coating systems are intumescent in nature as they form “swollen walls” to protect the steel substrate.

Among the conventional materials, purpose-designed spray fireproofing plasters have become abundantly available the world over.

Reasons for Application of PFP SYSTEMS on the steel substrate

-Structural steel to keep below critical temperature ca. 540 °C

-Electrical circuits to keep critical electrical circuits below 140 °C so they stay operational

-Liquified petroleum gas containers to prevent a BLEVE (boiling liquid expanding vapour explosion)

-Vessel skirts and pipe bridges in an oil refinery or chemical plant to keep the structural steel below critical temperature ca. 540°

-Concrete linings of traffic tunnels

-Fireblocking: In a wood frame construction, gaps are created by joists or studs in floor or wall partitions. These hollow spaces allow fire to travel easily from one area to another. Fireblocks are installed internally to divide these areas into smaller intervals. Common materials used include solid lumber, plywood, OSB, Particle board, gypsum board, cement fiberboard, or glass fiber insulation batts.

-Firewall (construction) is a common method employed to separate a building into small units to restrict of delay the spread of fire from one section to the next. Fire walls usually extend the full length of a building, from foundation to roof.

-Fire barriers and fire partitions: They are similar to fire walls in operation, however, their height is limited to a single floor, from the slab of one floor to the underside of the next.

Fireproofing of structural steel 

In a building fire, structural steel loses strength as the temperature increases. In order to maintain the structural property of the steel frame, several fireproofing measurements are taken by some global coating and PFP products systems manufacturers  as follows:

For over 30 years, AkzoNobel, with Chartek® brand, has been setting the standards and driving innovation in passive fire protection as demonstrated with  recent development of new hydrocarbon product Chartek 2218.

Mascoat Insulation USA is another global leader with their Mascoat’s line of insulating and sound damping coatings.

Also among  the global manufacturers leading in these fireproofing coating systems is Jotun. Jotun is proud to announce the launch of Jotachar JF750,the next-generation passive fire protection (PFP) coating system that significantly reduced installation time and cuts material costs.

According to Andy Czainski, Jotun’s global PFP Sales Director,Jotachar JF750 is the only mesh-free epoxy intumescent coating solution available to the market where jet fire protection is required for safety, critical steel structures, divisions and vessels. A majority of offshore assets require some degree of jet fire protection, with many onshore owners now also demanding PFP materials that can demonstrate the jet fire capability to ISO 22899.

John Warner, Jotun’s Category Manager for intumescent coatings adds that in addition to lowering costs related to application, Jotachar JF750 helps owners avoid risks associated with complex reinforced systems that often result in project delays. More importantly, incorrect installation can impact fire performance and therefore the safety of personnel and integrity of assets.

Anyone working with mesh required PFP coating systems knows that installation is a time and labour intensive process which requires stringent certification rules such as installed depth and overlap measurement within the system with other associated complexities in the application. . But because Jotachar is mesh-free, fabricators and applicators can work faster, especially on complex structures which makes maintenance and repair much easier requiring significantly less time and cost. This is my experience as a PFP trained applicator from Jotun MEIA. Major yards and other specialist PFP applicators are already saying it becomes a game changer for them.

Another major breakthrough with the technology is the avoidance of boric acid, a harmful substance classified by the EU’s REACH as a ‘substance of very high concern’. This harmful substance is incorporated into many competing PFP coating systems as a flame retardant. This avoidance of boric acid has placed Jotun on a higher echelon as part of their green initiatives to improve the environmental and safety impact of their products. These numerous advantages listed is as a result of my training as a PFP applicator from Jotun.

With the launch of Jotachar JF750,our customers can now benefit from the clear advantages a new era of mesh-free epoxy PFP technology brings, said by Warner.

CASE STUDY OF Jotun MEIA MIDDLE EAST, INDIA AND AFRICA

Because of these numerous advantages listed above by Jotun’s technological developments in the coating industry, it supplies coatings to Dangote refinery (Nigeria), Kuwait University, Dubai Arena, among others Jotun selected to provide powder coatings to the Riyadh Metro in Saudi Arabia and the architectural landmark, the Dubai Frame, in UAE Jotun achieves excellent results with premium interior decorative products Wonderwall and Royal Velvet.

LAGOS, July 24,2018,A report from (Reuters) –

Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote who built his fortune in cement, is building the world’s largest single oil refinery with capacity of 650,000 barrels per day (bpd) to help to reduce Nigeria’s dependence on imported petroleum.

“We will end up spending between $12 billion to $14 billion. The funding is going to come through equity, commercial bank loans, export credit agencies and developmental banks,” Dangote said in an interview in Lagos on Tuesday. The project aims to start production early 2020.

With this kind of world class construction project going on at Dangote Refinery,here in Nigeria, makes the selection of Jotun’s coating products worthwhile as no one would afford to make a joke with a Multi Billion Dollar project in this 21st century.

Because of the importance of passive fireproofing, manufacturers from different parts of the world are going into deep research engaging their scientists and engineers to improve on the quality of their products for the safety of both the workers and our industrial facilities.

To prove my point, MK Plantec is a thermal and cold insulation contractor operating on worldwide basis. MK Plantec has completed insulation, refractory, fireproofing and corrosion protection contracts for major Offshore, Power Plant, Petrochemical, Onshore plant etc in many Countries.

MK Plantec  has achieved a worldwide reputation for excellence based on state-of-the-art engineering, cost effectiveness,and on–time project completion to the highest standards of quality.

The company  specializes in design and construction of insulation cover and has been producing special hot insulation cover (Removable Insulation Cover and Fire Proofing Cover (PFP Cover)), which are used for equipment, pipeline and piping of shipbuilding & offshore, petrochemical & chemical plant, steel mill industries, Nuclear & Thermal power Plant and general plants in Korea and oversea.

Their product is fully compliant to NORSORK standards,widely considered to be the industry’s most rigorous test standard, providing corrosion resistance, material durability, and mechanical performance after exposure as it provides operators with confidence that fire performance and excellent corrosion protection are assured, even after many years of exposure in severe offshore environments.Their improved aspen aerogel PFP insulation product is one of the best in the world with Thermal Conductivity_ 0.013 (W/M.K) at 0 Deg C ,Service Temperature_ +650 Deg C. The thermal conductivity was confirmed from the words from Shin Hyun Bae as follows:

When it is really well made, aspen aerogel insulation blankets is 0.013 (W / M.K).

However, currently used aerogel blanket is 0.015 ~ 0.017 (W / M.K).

Among the existing insulation existing on the earth, it is the best insulation today said by Shin Hyun Bae.MK Plantec Co., LTD has been certified by DNV GL according to ISO 22899 to manufacture Insulation covers, Insulation blankets(Nuclear Grade blanket type Insulation), flanges, Heating Jackets, Expansion Joints and associated accessories (suitable for various pressure vessels, Plasma Energy, Conversion Equipment & Power Plants)

At MK Plantec Co., LTD, They have replaced conventional PFP insulators with new thermal technology which you can use in special areas where it is impossible with conventional permanent insulators.(Calcium Silicate, Perlite) create a lot of hazardous dust and wastes when removal which gets loss in time and money. They now develop and supply new eco friendly insulators which provides easy attachment & removal and long repeative usage as well as following environmental and economic interest.

. FIREPROOFING & PROTECTION (JET FIRE TEST) Certified by DNV GL, Lloyd’s Register

TAILOR MADE TYPE REMOVABLE INSULATION

JET FIRE TEST

Tailor made type exible jacket Passive Fire Protection system is a high performance solution designed to meet the most demanding requirements for protection of critical fow and process equipment from Hydrocarbon Pool Fire conditions.Covering up to 120 minutes protection,these tailor made jackets can be used to protect valves, actuators, instrument panels, process vessels, cable trays, tube & pipework and has been supplied extensively worldwide for both onshore and offshore Oil & Gas and Petrochemical installations.

DESIGN

Fire Condition – Hydrocarbon engulfment / Jet Fires up to 120 mins  Blast Protection – Up to 1.62 bar Limiting Temperatures – as per project requirements with software calculations to be issued to clients for each item of equipment protected. 3rd Party approvals for certification – Each and every design data including G.A & temperature calculation to be reviewed by nominated 3rd party (i.e., Lloyd’s ‑Register or DNV GL) to issue design appraisal. This 3rd party appraisal documentation to be submitted to the end users to prove the design integrity is met with project specific requirements.

REMOVABLE PFP INSULATION COVER FEATURES

Removable Insulation Cover

Tailor made type

Many shapes.

e.g. Valve , Flange, Elbow, Tee, devices, etc.

Excellent Waterproo‑ng & Durability

Waterproof materials for both inner and outer layers: outdoor in-stallation

Incombustibility

50 °C~ 1,200 °C

Easy installation/removal & No harm-ful Dust

◆ Valves and ange

◆ Pumps and Equipment

◆ Instrumentation

◆ Tubing lines and piping

Industrial Application

– Offshore Plant

– Shipbuilding

– Power Plant

– Chemical Plant

– Oil & Gas Refinery

– Machinery

These PFP product covers will revolutionize  not only the oil and gas industry but the entire technological industry of the world positively because they are energy saving, for instrument protection and the ease of removal for repair, maintenance and inspection. These are my views as a trained PFP applicator from Jotun MEIA, Trained Insulation Installer from Solartech International Ltd, trained applicator of Mascoat’s line of insulating and sound damping coatings, certified NDT Level 2 inspector,ASME PCC-2 & ISO/TS composites repairs applicator from IMG Composites Limited Aberdeen UK.

Ikenna Athan Oparaji is a poet, creative picturesque writer,chemical engineer and currently an Asset Integrity Engineer @ Liquid Energy Global Services Limited.He can be reached as follows :Twitter/Instagram ID: @athanoparaji Or by email at: ikeathans4success@yahoo.com

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