Environmental Hazards due to Rupture of a Liquefied Propane Pipeline

[+] Author and Article Information
O. A. Badr, H. A. El-Sheikh

Department of Mechanical Engineering, United Arab Emirates University, Al-Ain, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

J. Energy Resour. Technol 118(1), 9-15 (Mar 01, 1996) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2792699 History: Received April 25, 1994; Revised July 01, 1995; Online December 05, 2007


Accidental leakages of liquefied propane from high-pressure pipelines may occur despite the use of sophisticated safety equipment and following strict monitoring procedures. Environmental impact of steady and transient leakages were considered from toxicity and flammability viewpoints for two specific scenarios of full pipe ruptures. For each case, calculated mass flow rate, velocity, and temperature of leaking gas were utilized in an EPA-based dispersion model to predict the ground level concentration profiles in the downwind and crosswind directions. For the specific pipeline conditions considered here, the first scenario of a nonjet release (a cloud) produced steady toxic and flammable zones which were about 20 times bigger than those produced in the transient case. The second scenario of a free vertical jet resulted in the formation of a flammable vertical plume, while at ground level it did not produce flammable nor toxic zones. A parametric study of the first scenario confirmed the expected effects of both the gas release time and the atmospheric stability on the size of the dangerous zones. Within the typical range, the wind speed was found to have opposite effects for steady and transient releases. For a steady release, the dangerous zone was wider for slower winds and vice versa for a transient case. Moreover, the size of the dangerous zone was found to be an exponential function of the pipe diameter, while the effect of the initial pipe pressure was insignificant.

Copyright © 1996 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Topics: Pipelines , Rupture
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