Designing an Inherently Safer Ammonia Refrigeration System
Designing an Inherently Safer Ammonia Refrigeration System (2009)-After approximately 12 years of research the FAA announced a new requirement in July 2008 which is designed to make airline travel inherently safer. This requirement will mandate the use of nitrogen in airline fuel tanks to eliminate the potential for a flammable atmosphere in these tanks. At first glance it might appear that this requirement is unrelated to the ammonia refrigeration industry. But in reality the ammonia refrigeration industry has been emphasizing the use of inherently safer designs for many years. Examples include the use of secondary refrigerants and the elimination of ammonia piping manifolds in processing areas. The processes used to evaluate design options, however, have tended to be relatively informal and qualitative in nature. This technical paper will describe a formalized method that has been used to quantitatively and qualitatively evaluate different options in ammonia refrigeration systems to identify inherently safer options. The method involves adding additional questions to Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) studies to stimulate discussions on potential inherently safer designs. The method also involves the use of actual ammonia accident investigation data and published equipment and human failure rate data to evaluate various design alternatives. The end result is a suggested list of action items which are designed to make ammonia refrigeration systems inherently safer.
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