How Flame Arresters Work

Flame arresters are used in chemical processing facilities to prevent flames from burning into process vessels during either emergency relief or normal operations. Flame arresters work by forcing the flame through one or more narrow passages that are long enough to decelerate the flow and increase the residence time for heat transfer and that are small enough to increase heat loss from the flame surface to prevent the flame from propagating.

Although we can make the flow path tortuous with a very large surface to volume ratio and residence time, we need to consider operational requirements dealing with pressure drop and plugging. Flame arresters will not function properly and will still transmit a flame if they heat up too much. It is a good practice to have a temperature monitored flame arrester that can detect a stabilized flame at the flame-arresting element(s).

Flame arresters can be installed at the end of a relief line and/or directly on a storage tank or process vessel. These arresters are referred to as ”End of line flame arresters”. They are used to protect against the flame spreading from the outside atmosphere to the inside of the vessel. Flame arresters that are installed in piping systems to protect the downstream equipment from flame propagation and/or a deflagration are referred to as "Inline flame arresters”.

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