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Publication Title | SAFETY STUDY OF AN EXPERIMENTAL APPARATUS FOR EXTRACTION WITH SUPERCRITICAL CO2

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Brazilian Journal of Chemical Engineering

INTRODUCTION

Over the last few decades, the word “security” has been substituted by the expression “loss prevention” to include new questions about the safety of the environment, materials and businesses (Hendershot, 2006). This is partially due to a large number of accidents involving pressure vessels in the decade between 1970 and 1980, affecting the image and the profits of organizations. In a chemical manufacturing plant, the sudden release of pressurized material is a negative event, especially when it involves the release of toxic materials or flammables. In these cases, fire, explosions and contamination can also occur (Perry et al., 2008). Obviously, the type of substance, its quantity and the operating conditions will determine the intensity of the impact of an accident. In a supercritical

extraction plant, the presence of pressure vessels and other devices is necessary due to the high pressures involved in the process. These devices have a variety of functions in the process such as an extraction vessel, a separator, a heater, a condenser and also as a storage tank for volatiles substances (McHugh and Krukonis, 1986).

The challenge for the equipment manufacturer lies in finding technical solutions which are economically feasible and safe. In recent years, also in Brazil, groups of University laboratories have shown an increasing interest in high pressure technology. On the other hand, generating and containing pressures up to hundreds of bars from gases at room temperature are not routine in Research and Development Labs and require special training. These include an adequate level of shielding, training personnel in operation and

ISSN 0104-6632 Printed in Brazil www.abeq.org.br/bjche

Vol. 29, No. 03, pp. 677 - 682, July - September, 2012

SAFETY STUDY OF AN EXPERIMENTAL APPARATUS FOR EXTRACTION WITH SUPERCRITICAL CO2

V. B. Soares and G. L. V. Coelho*

Laboratory of Separation Process, Department of Chemical Engineering, University Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, (UFRRJ),

Phone: + (55) (21) 3787-3742, Fax: + (55) (21) 3787-3750,

BR 465, Km 7, 23890-000, Seropédica, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, Brazil. E-mail: vsoares@peq.coppe.ufrj.br

*E-mail: coelho@ufrrj.br

(Submitted: May 6, 2011 ; Revised: February 19, 2012 ; Accepted: March 1, 2012)

Abstract - During the process of supercritical CO2 extraction it is necessary to use high pressures in the procedure. The explosion of a pressure vessel can be harmful to people and cause serious damage to the environment. The aim of this study is to investigate the probability of death and injury in a laboratory unit for supercritical fluid extraction in the case of an explosion of the extractor vessel. The procedure is explained via a case study involving fatty acid extraction from vegetable oils with carbon dioxide above its supercritical conditions and under optimum operating conditions. According to the results, more importance should be given to the use of a protective headset because the probability of eardrum injury is superior to the probability of death from lung injury.

Keywords: Safety Analysis; Pressure Vessel; Probit method; BLEVE.

*To whom correspondence should be addressed

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