Thursday, July 30, 2009

Runway Reaction

Runaway reaction happens in a reactor most of the time if proper handling not considered during handling chemicals, operating plant, abrupt climate change, etc. This runaway reaction can be categorized as two runaway reactions; marginal and non-marginal. This is because of the allowable margin during design to allow some operating envelope fluctuation. This fluctuation to the operation might because of the abrupt climate change during monsoon season. Besides, upstream unit operation also can cause some fluctuation to downstream and eventually causing runaway reaction.

Marginal runaway reaction is expected to happen during normal operation and can be adjusted or corrected by applying relieving system. This marginal runaway reaction some time might cause unwanted incident but still in tolerable limit. However, there is a case whereby the incident caused to fatality due to some leakage and sudden pressure relief and cause explosion. This is not only happening for the new cases or process technology but even repeating incidents keep on happening from time to time.

There is non-marginal runaway reaction whereby the runaway reaction happens due to negligence of the operators, supervisors, engineers, and up to plant general manager. This is because of the discipline in following the procedures available in plant are not fully complied when operating the plant. This is eventually can cause to the runaway reaction which ends up with losses of dollars and brings to fatality. This kind of accident is not only releasing the hydrocarbons to atmosphere but explosion which made a vessel like a rocket shooting up to the sky. So, all the procedures which are available in plant must be followed even it sounds tedious procedures eventually can give big impact to the plant quality.

So, as time go on, technology also developed and there are chances to repeat the similar mistakes that happened before for different technologies. People might say that it’s very hard to stop the accident from happen but actually all these accidents caused by runaway reaction can be reduced which by reducing human error. This human error can be reduced by practicing the quality management of the plant operational. This is can be done by emphasizing the use of operating procedures with systematic by really follow the work flow given in organization chart. Besides, the authority delegation also must be looked into seriously to avoid any careless mistakes such as signing off permits without checking it properly. It’s again depending upon attitude of the personnel.

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