Você está na página 1de 9

A REVIEW OF ONSHORE FLARE SYSTEMS

Summary of Presentation by Kaldair

1. INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................................2
2. FLARE TIP.............................................................................................................................2
3. AIR INGRESS SEAL.............................................................................................................3
4. STACK RISER AND STRUCTURE......................................................................................4
7. ALTERNATIVES TO STEAM FOR SMOKE SUPPRESSION............................................5
7.1. Air Blown Flares..............................................................................................................5
7.2. Ground Flares...................................................................................................................5
8. HIGH PRESSURE FLARES..................................................................................................6
9. STEAM CONTROL SYSTEM..............................................................................................6
11. REFERENCES......................................................................................................................9
1. INTRODUCTION

For the purpose of this paper Onshore Flare Systems are defined as those operating at
pressures near atmospheric and which are being used to flare gases that produce smoke when
burnt in any quantity.

This basically encompasses flares on refineries, chemical plants, oil and LPG terminals etc.

The basic components of a flare system of this type can be summarized as follows:

- flare tip
- air ingress seal
- stack riser and structure
- water seal
- knock-out drum
- ignition system
- means to control smoke emissions.

Taking these in turn.

2. FLARE TIP

There are a number of different designs of flare tip available to the prospective Purchaser
today.

The simplest form of flare tip is the pipeflare. This is basically, as it's name implies, an open
pipe fitted with a means of ignition and sometimes a windshield and other accessories. These
flares are used where a smokey flame can be tolerated or when the gas to be burnt does not
produce smoke.

Increasingly, the number of installations that will allow the flare to smoke are very few and
far between, areas that previously were unconcerned about emissions are now demanding a
clean burn! Thus the popularity of the pipeflare is on the decline and more sophisticated
smokeless tips are being specified.

By far the most effective way of inducing smokeless combustion is to inject steam into the
flame envelope, this works in a number of ways:

* it reduces the flame temperature hence reducing thermal cracking

* it entrains air into the flame and creates turbulence

* it alters the equilibrium of the water-gas shift reaction so that complete combustion is
favored.

Steam also has the advantage that it is often already available on site and that it is easily piped
to the flare stack and readily controlled by a simple throttling valve.
Restricting our discussion to steam flares, i.e. flares which use steam as a smoke suppressant,
the simplest and most common type is the generic "Crown of Thorns" tip which uses a
number of nozzles mounted on a manifold to inject steam at high pressures (up to 7 barg)
directly into the flame envelope thus creating turbulence and pulling in air. These tips are
simple to operate but not as efficient as other types and certainly the most noisy.

Kaldair's PSA tip is of this type but it boasts an advanced windshield and multi-port steam jet
design which means that the peak noise generation is shifted into the higher frequency bands
which is advantageous since noise of this type is more directional and is attenuated more over
distance.

Other types use the ejector principle to premix air into the steam prior to passing up a
steanvair tube into the inside of the tip and then emerging to mix co-currently with the flare
gas. This type is more efficient than the "Crown of Thorns" and is less noisy but is ignore
expensive and tends to suffer with the internal steam air tubes collapsing.

A third common type uses small Coanda devices to inspirate air and steam into the gas stream.
The use of multiple Coanda's tends to give low noise levels but the design of the tip
encourages internal burning and longevity can be reduced.

The Kaldair approach has been to try to retain the low noise characteristics and efficiency
produced by using the Coanda effect while avoiding the need for complex and vulnerable
internals.

This design is known as the STEDAIR. It uses a Coanda profile around the top of the tip so
that when steam is passed over it, the action induces large quantities of air and a great deal of
turbulence into the flame envelope, thus producing smokeless burning.

The STEDAIR design has recently been the subject of a number of significant improvements
designed to increase still further it's ability to induce air into the flame while at the same time
reducing still further it's noise emissions. This has been achieved by the use of a much
enhanced Coanda steam injector which is coupled with a brand new design of windshield.
This device is designed to work at very low steam pressures (about 2 barg) but still manages
to induce an air mass flow of 7 to 8 times the steam flow.

3. AIR INGRESS SEAL

In the past many elevated flare stacks were fitted with a molecular seal (also known as the
labyrinth seal). This uses the density differences between the purge gas and air to produce a
barrier against air infiltration. It has become apparent in the last few years that purge rates
can be reduced to comparable levels of molecular seals just by using a simple fluidic type seal
such as Kaldair's Diode Seal. This latter type uses the velocity of the purge gas to pick up and
carry out any air which is coming down the stack walls.

The use of a fluidic seal is generally preferred nowadays due to its low cost, minimal
restriction to flow and its absence of impact on structural design.

It is interesting to note that work done by Kaldair on tall elevated stacks evaluating the
effectiveness of various purge rates shows that the correlation derived by Husa can
significantly underestimate the required purge gas rate in the unlit condition but it should also
be noted that as soon as the purge is lit oxygen levels measured 6m down the stack fall to near
zero, indicating that the infiltrating air is being used in the combustion of the purge gas -
probably internally.

4. STACK RISER AND STRUCTURE

Many varieties of structure have been used for flare stacks, but the most common is the guyed
stack which is generally the lowest cost option. Heights of up to approximately 140m have
been successfully employed, although these are few; most refinery stacks being in the 60-
100m range. A limitation for guyed stacks is the range of process temperature it will
encounter when in service, as this variation in temperature will cause the stack to expand and
contract with resultant stretching or loosening of the guy wires. A service range of 200-300 C
is usually limiting in this case.

In the event of an excessive temperature variation a guyed derrick can be used or even a free-
standing derrick structure.

A structure offering great operational flexibility is the jack-up derrick. This allows flares and
risers to be dismounted for replacement and/or repair while a second flare system remains
online - thus no plant downtime is necessary. This is a system much favored by certain
operators.

5. WATER SEALS

Water seals are used to provide a positive seal against air ingress and flashback, and also to
maintain the upstream header at a positive pressure. Water seals cannot be used where
process temperatures may fall below 0 C for risk of freezing.

Water seal drums can either be horizontally or vertically mounted and must be correctly sized
to prevent water carryover up the flare stack under normal usage.

Under emergency usage it must be expected that the water will be carried away by the high
flare gas velocities.

A common problem with water seals is one of pulsation caused by water slopping from side to
side, thus allowing the gas flow to vary periodically with time, (the period is generally about 1
second).

This causes the flare flame to rise and fall, and also the flare noise to fluctuate, this condition
is particularly annoying to local residents at night and is the cause of many complaints from
the general public.

Kaldair has had considerable success in eliminating this problem by the use of a "Seebold"
baffle and by using a "saw-tooth" arrangement on the end of the dip leg.

6. KNOCK-OUT DRUMS

Knock-out drums are designed to remove liquid droplets of excessive size from the gas stream
and to return the collected liquid to the process.
Sizing to the API RP-521 recommendations is generally adequate but the knock-out drum
should be sited as close as practically possible to the flare stack and should not possess any
internals liable to blockage.

7. ALTERNATIVES TO STEAM FOR SMOKE SUPPRESSION

7.1. Air Blown Flares

The most practical alternative to the elevated steam flare for smoke suppression (leaving aside
the ground flare which is covered elsewhere) is the forced draught air blown flare.

These find favor where the smokeless rate is not too high and where steam is not available.

They achieve smokeless combustion by supplying a proportion of the necessary air for
combustion in the form of a forced draught ducted air stream which is induced to mix with the
flare gas in a special head (or tip) arrangement.

An axial or centrifugal fan is used to supply the air; this is mounted at grade and will
generally have a multi-speed motor or other means of capacity control.

The Kaldair design of air flare is particularly suitable for low pressure flare gas sources and is
known as the AZDAIR.

The power requirement for air flares can be significant and their initial capital cost is higher
than the equivalent steam flare.

Recent applications for AZDAIRs in the Middle East have been as "conversion kits" to
change an existing non-smokeless pipeflare into an air blown smokeless flare.

This involves the replacement of the flare tip, the running of an additional air duct from the
grade mounted fan to the tip and the supply and hook-up of the electrically driven fan. On
large flares the structural problems of running an additional riser may be prohibitive but on
small diameter flares that are relatively short in height the technique is highly effective.

7.2. Ground Flares

In this context a GROUND FLARE is defined as a refractory lined combustion chamber that
totally encloses the flare flame. This type of flare is used where it is necessary for
environmental or other reasons to completely conceal the flames and achieve very low noise
levels. The flare itself consists of a steel structure usually 5m wide and 12m high, the length
is variable depending on capacity, the bottom of the unit is open to allow the necessary
combustion air to be drawn in while the walls are lined with ceramic fibre material.

The burners are arranged across the box at about 2m from the ground and firing vertically
upwards. Around the base of the box there is Kaldair's Fluidic Windfence, this is designed to
allow sufficient air to enter in such a manner so as to achieve even distribution and balanced
flows. The burners used are Kaldair's patented Fin Plate type which use a low velocity form
of the Coanda effect to induce air to mix with the gas stream. The whole combination of box,
windfence and burner give the flare outstanding performance, for instance, the system is
capable of burning ethylene smokelessly at low back pressures without the use of steam or
other utilities.

In order for the burners to operate in their best regime most of the time a staging system is
used to bring burners on and off line as the flare gas flow varies.

Ground flares are generally limited in their capacity to keep within space and cost constraints,
such that a 30 tph (tonnes per hour) unit is considered quite a large unit.

To enable a plant relief flow in excess of the ground flare capacity an elevated flare is often
used to handle the overspill. The diversion of flow to the elevated flare usually being done by
a water seal but in some cases by a staging valve opened by excess pressure in the header.

It is notable that a ground flare using low pressure burners (such as the Fin Plate burner used
here) produces the lowest possible noise emission of any flare system.

8. HIGH PRESSURE FLARES

If flare gases are available at pressures greater than about 1 barg at the tip then it is possible to
use a high pressure flare to produce smokeless and low radiation combustion. Kaldair
pioneered the use of HP flares in the industry and offers a number of designs for different
circumstances. The most common type is the INDAIR flare with it's distinctive tulip shape.
This flare tip uses the Coanda effect to induce large quantities of air into the emerging HP gas
stream thus obtaining clean combustion. Usually the INDAIR is specified offshore for it's
low thermal radiation characteristics but it also finds a home in onshore gas processing
terminals which can also make the flare gas available at high pressures. The INDAIR version
which is particularly suitable for achieving smokeless combustion over a wide flow range is
the Variable Slot, or VS, version. In this configuration the gas discharge slot is automatically
varied in response to applied pressure thus at even very low flowrates the INDAIR VS
produces enough back pressure (and hence gas kinetic energy) to induce smokeless burning.

The other Coanda flare used onshore is the MARDAIR flare, this is an internal Coanda unit
which is very efficient at inducing air but is limited in capacity so large flowrates are handled
by a multiplicity of units generally staged to optimize combustion.

9. STEAM CONTROL SYSTEM

Accurate control of steam supply to a steam


flare is desirable

(i) to minimize smoke emission

(ii) to minimize noise emission

(iii) to minimize steam consumption

(iv) to avoid over steaming and subsequent loss of flame.


Traditionally, the steam flow is ratioed to gas flow and if the composition of the gases are
subject to change, a density measurement for ratio correction is also required.

These types of systems are of minimal success because flow measurement is difficult due to
the low velocity of the gases and the density measurement equally difficult because the gases
are sometimes corrosive and always dirty. Maintenance and downtime on this type of system
is very high. Because of these problems, we typically find the steam valve manually loaded
to 60% or higher, to protect against the flare smoking, which results in a tremendous waste of
expensive steam.

Closed circuit television is sometimes used for steam control. A television camera is installed
in the field, aimed at the flare tip with a screen in the control room for operator viewing. The
unit operator should occasionally glance at the screen and manually adjust the steam flow.
Since the operator has other duties that are more pressing than starting at a television screen,
the manual steam flow control is normally much greater than required, to insure that small
upsets, or "burps", do not create a smoking condition.

The television screens are normally black and white CRT's and at night and on overcast days,
it is difficult to tell if this flare is smoking or not. In times of heavy rain or snow, viewing is
difficult, also. These systems are expensive and are not closed-loop control.

Other optical devices on the market seem to be experiencing problems due to the infrared
spectrum they utilize, which affects response time and sensitivity. Their optics are fixed, and
not adjustable, which means the size of the viewing target is established by the distance
between the flare tip and their instrument. We have replaced a number of these units, to date.

Operation

The Kaldair KSM-3000 series monitors use a lead sulphide detector filtered for a spectral
response of 2.1 to 2.3 microns, to measure the radiant flux density from hot gaseous
combustion products and from particles of carbon. The flux density radiation signal
generated by the monitor is a composite of the effects of hydrocarbon flow and density in the
positive direction and of smoke suppressant flow (steam) in the negative direction. In other
words, the monitor measures the flame's tendency to smoke. The radiant flux density
increases rapidly when smoke appears in the flare.

Choice of Spectral Response

Spectral response of the detector is determined by an infrared band pass filter. In the KSM
monitors, this band is selected for the following reasons:

* Transmission is good, even when the atmosphere between the flame and the monitor
contains water vapor (fog, rain).

* In this band the signal level is high.

* The influence of ambient luminosity is nil.

Dimension of the Tqrniew)


To measure the radiant flux density of a flame, it is very important for the flame to constantly
be in the sensor's field of view, even with varying wind direction., The target size or field of
view of the monitor is a function of optics used and the distance from the monitor to the tip of
the flare. The attached chart shows the approximate target size from available optics at
different distances between monitor and flare. The optimum control of the flare results when
the target size is at least twice the flare throat dimension.

Monitor Location

To avoid inaccuracies due to sunlight, it is necessary that the sensor does not "see" the sun.
For this reason, in the northern hemisphere, proper positioning of the sensor would be ñ 45'
North, or ñ 30' South, with an elevation less than 45'. Due to the presently available optics,
the distance from the flare tip to the monitor location should be greater than 150m and less
than 900m.

Transmitter

The output of the KSM transmitter is a 4-20 mA DC signal proportional to a 0-100% flux
density range. In a closed-loop control application, this signal would be the measured
variable input to a steam valve PID controller. Kaldair can provide this controller, if required.

Advantages of the KSM Flare Monitoring Systems

The advantages of the KSM Flare Monitoring Systems are as follows:

1. The control is not affected by flare gas composition and discharge velocity.

2. Fast response time (important point for control-loop).

3. No gas flow or density device required.

4. No component exposed to flare gas stream.

5. Very low maintenance at accessible location.


10. PILOT IGNITION SYSTEM

Almost without exception, flare pilot ignition has been done by using a flame front generation
system.

This method involves filling a small bore pipe which runs from the flame front generator
panel to the flare with a combustible gas/air mixture and sparking it at the panel end. The
resultant flame front travels to the pilot and lights it off.

This system is time honored and works! However in practice a number of factors combine to
defeat this system in the field, i.e.:

(i) flame front lines always collect large quantities of water, which requires draining before
ignition

(ii) changes in fuel gas compositions and the use of wet air conspire to defeat operators

(iii) long term pipe corrosion and lack of maintenance reduce the probability of a good
ignition.

It is Kaldair's opinion that the flame front generator system cannot be automated successfully.

In addition to the above, pilot flame monitoring is normally done by thermocouple; these have
a reputation in the industry of not being reliable and failing after only short periods in service.

In the light of the above, Kaldair has developed the Kaldair Electronic Pilot (KEP), which is a
direct electric ignition system specially designed to resist the harsh flare tip environment.

All sensitive electrics are remote from the flare being housed in a control panel (rated for a
hazardous area if necessary) located up to 750m from the flare, the only inter-connection
being a single core HT cable.

The KEP system not only ignites the flare pilot, it also monitors the pilot flame not by
thermocouple but by the principle of flame ionization using the same high tension insulated
rod used for ignition.

The system is fully automatic and will relight within 30 seconds of detecting a flame failure
or switch a volt-free alarm contact if re-ignition does not take place within 2 minutes, such as
a loss of fuel gas.
The system sequence and other details are fully described in the KEP brochure.

11. REFERENCES

1. Husa H W - Hydrocarbon Processing 1964,


Volume 43, No.5.

2. API RP-521 3rd Edition 1990.

3. Seebold J - Hydrocarbon Processing


September 1975.