Safety Evaluation and Improvement in an Ethylene Oxide Reactor
Paper i proceeding, 2009
Ethylene Oxide (EO) is one of the essential chemicals in industrial processes. At ambient temperature, EO is an uncoloured gas with a somewhat sweet odour. The market value of EO is very high since its field of application is large. Above all, EO is used as input component in the production of many different chemical products, i.e. bromide fluid, cosmetic and anti-freezing medium in engines.
Handling EO is very complicated because of its flammability. It is very dangerous in many ways. If released uncontrollably it is very likely that a powerful explosion will take place. Exposure to EO may also result in health problems. EO is toxic, carcinogenic, caustic and allergenic.
The first stage of EO production is direct oxidation of ethylene, which takes place in a reactor under high pressure and temperature. The reaction is exothermic and has a high potential of runaway followed by an explosion. Therefore, the design, operation and maintenance procedures require proper safety concern.
The objective of this project is to identify all possible hazards in the process of EO reactor and to introduce some safety actions in order to minimize the risk of potential accidents. Thus, guideline to improve the safety of EO reactor can be proposed.
In this study, some risk assessment tools such as HAZOP and FMEA are used to identify the most hazardous scenarios concerning the reaction phase of the process. Operating condition hazards is evaluated using HAZOP, while equipment hazards and failures are analyzed using FMEA. The results of the study in terms of safeguards and suggestions can be used to improve the EO reactor safety.
Keywords: ethylene oxide