Refinery Explosion

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by Torf, Mar 23, 2005.

  1. Torf

    Torf New Member

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    http://www.click2houston.com/news/4311459/detail.html

    I guess I am officially counting down the days before my Prius arrives, and not looking forward to more jumps in the gas price.

    Too bad 14 are dead. Prayers for the families!
     
  2. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    I've done process control work at oil refineries. Once you know how the distillation columns and hydrocracker work, you quickly realize there is NO margin for error.

    One serious process upset, a surge in a process network, or one obvious spark, and BOOM.
     
  3. DaveinOlyWA

    DaveinOlyWA 3rd Time was Solariffic!!

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    wow what a bummer~!

    most refineries have improved their safety records dramatically from the 30's when refinery explosions happened a half dozen times a year.

    when refining oil, they found that putting the boilers under very high pressure enabled them to break hydrocarbon chains at much lower temperatures which saved a lot of money in fuel costs.

    that process also dramatically lowered the flash point of the vapors creating a situation where even the smallest leak of oxygen into the mix results in explosions.
     
  4. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(DaveinOlyWA\";p=\"75126)</div>
    David:

    Yep any oxidizer becomes a catastrophe in the blink of an eye. The petrochemical field really pushed the development of Intrinsically Safe process devices.

    It has been mentioned that if Intrinsically Safe devices had been in the center fuel tank of that TWA 800 flight, the explosion wouldn't have happened.
     
  5. Prius_Jeff

    Prius_Jeff New Member

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    This is truely a tragedy for all involved. My prayers are with them.
     
  6. DaveinOlyWA

    DaveinOlyWA 3rd Time was Solariffic!!

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    just heard a blurb on the national news about the explosion. the refinery provides 30% of the north american supply for BP oil and 3% of the total US supply.

    guess it couldnt have happened at a worse time. i pray that we dont find out later the explosion resulted from pressure to increase output. that would be unforgiveable
     
  7. Torf

    Torf New Member

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    Update: 14 now dead.
     
  8. TonyPSchaefer

    TonyPSchaefer Your Friendly Moderator
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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(DaveinOlyWA\";p=\"75214)</div>
    Wasn't the Titanic cruising faster than it should have been because of pressure to get to New York ahead of schedule? Sounds similar to me. A decision made to push the envelope of performance resulting in catastrophic consequences.
     
  9. Torf

    Torf New Member

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    It may be a bit too early to start blaming Greed/Corporate America/Haliburton/Karl Rove at this point.

    Refining oil into it's different products is not exactly a "safe" thing. After all, it contains a LOT of energy, and many of the byproducts are extremely dangerous. Fractional Distillation requires heat to begin with, so it is an inherently dangerous situation. Ammo Plants, Coal Mines, Electrical Grids, Airplane Cockpits, etc, are all quite unforgiving places to be in the event of a serious human error.
     
  10. bookrats

    bookrats New Member

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    I haven't verified this, but a friend who has done more reading on the explosion said that it may not cripple the plant for very long.

    He said that the explosion occured in the part of the plant that makes high-octane fuel. Don't know if the production of less high-octane fuel would be able to resume sooner -- i.e., was this a key component for the production of other types of fuel.
     
  11. DaveinOlyWA

    DaveinOlyWA 3rd Time was Solariffic!!

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    i just saw reports on the news that said that production would be completely unaffected.

    which makes me think that either that place is huge (3rd largest in US) or that someone is lying. hard to believe an explosion of that magnitude wouldnt cause some sort of disruption.

    then again, when i think of oil company greed, ya i can easily believe that it would be business as usual despite losing 15 co-workers
     
  12. dbarry

    dbarry Member

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    The BP Plant here in Houston actually consists of 31 refineries. The plant produced 3% of the U.S. supply of unleaded gasoline. It's been running at 97.8% capacity (virtual 100%) for the past several years.

    The Octane Enhancement Unit that exploded was going off-line for a "turn-around', which is preventative maintenance. It's considered the most dangerous part of plant operation.

    I clearly heard the explosion, and I'm 27 miles away from the plant.
     
  13. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    I think the only thing more exciting than the refinery explosion was that ammonium perchlorate plant explosion near Henderson, NV back in 1988. Ammonium perchlorate is used in the space shuttle SRB.

    The peak explosion was approximately 1.5 MT in strength - that's in the high yield nuclear weapon category. Campers taping the plant fire from a mountain ridge almost 15 miles away clearly felt the ground tremor, and the shockwave knocked over most of them .

    It was very wise to build that plant in the middle of the desert in an isolated valley. Maybe not so wise to build it on top of a natural gas pipeline :roll:
     
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