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What Is A Flame Arrester And How Do They Work?

flame arrester

What Is A Flame Arrester?

Flame arresters also called flame arrestors are devices designed to allow the passage of gasses and to prevent flame transmission. Many factors influence the eruption process like the chemical composition of the mixture, pressure waves,pre-compression, and flame propagation speed. But thanks to technology, flame arresters can be applied in various situations to stop the flame and prevent large fire breakouts. 


There is an interesting history related to Flame arresters.  Credit for discovering flame arrestors operating principle goes to Sir Humphry Davy. He provided this unique solution to the English mining industry and was on the lookout for a way to prevent oil lamp explosions. Sir  Humphry investigated how methane burns in various conditions. Finally, he came up with a solution to enclose the lamp fire securely with a tall cylinder of finely woven wire screen called metal gauze 1815.


What Are The Different Types Of Flame Arresters?

Modern Flame arresters are classified into two types. One is end-of-line also known as vent-to-atmosphere Flame arrester. The other is in-line Deflagration or Detonation Flame arrester.  Both flame arresters operate on the same principle. They remove the heat from the flame as it attempts to travel through narrow walls of metal or other heat-conductive material. The systems are widely used in industries including pharmaceuticals, chemicals, petrochemicals, oil production, mining, and power generation.


How Do Modern Flame Arresters Work?

Flame arresters are passive devices that prevent the propagation of flame. They have resembled a wound-crimped metal ribbon that controls the flame. The system has uniform openings that deactivate the flame by absorbing the heat of the flame. This extinguisher acts as a barrier to the ignited vapor mixture. Flame arrester facilitates the free flow of gas or vapor through the pipes. In case of ignition, the flames travel back through the piping, arrester will prohibit the flame from moving back to the gas source.


In-Line Deflagration Or Detonation Flame Arrester


In-line flame arresters applications that collect gasses emitted by liquids and solids. This type of arrester is used widely in industries and is called vapor control systems.The gases vented to the atmosphere or controlled via a vapor control system are highly flammable. If the ignition occurs, flames are produced which would lead to a catastrophe. Another variety of vapor control systems is called a vapor destruction system; it includes enclosed flare systems and waste gas boilers.


 Sometimes In-line Deflagration is also used in end-of-line applications. For instance, an in-line unit may be mounted below a tank vent Valve on a liquid storage tank. The Valve reduces emissions and product loss, while the flame arrester protects the tank from flames in the atmosphere during the venting of flammable gasses.


End Of Line Or Vent-To-Atmosphere Flame Arrester 


These arresters allow free venting in combination with flame protection for vertical vent applications. They prevent flame spread by absorbing and dissipating heat using spiral wound crimped ribbon stainless steel flame cells. End-of-line flame arresters are popular in applications such as petroleum storage tank vents.


The classic application is in preventing fire in the atmosphere from entering an enclosure. Around the beginning of the nineteenth century, for instance, flame arresters began to be installed on vents in oilfield storage tanks. They keep the tanks from exploding when gas flowing from the vents is struck by lightning.


Conversely, some end-of-line flame arresters prevent fire in an enclosure from igniting an explosive atmosphere such as in a refinery. For instance, flame arresters may be used in furnace air inlets and exhaust stacks.


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