Venting, purging, or blowing down flammable gas-containing piping systems and vessels may pose unintended fire and explosion hazards to personnel. In fact, several high-profile incidents have occurred in recent years highlighting this hazard. Industrial safety standards and guidelines exist as a basis for safely designing venting systems, but can a designer rely solely upon these standards for every situation? Certainly, site-specific constraints can be incorporated into a hazard analysis to understand potential adverse outcomes of a venting process. In this paper we give a brief overview of the existing safety standards applicable to blowdown and gas purging operations of flammable gas-containing systems, with particular emphasis on API Standard 521, and its provisions pertaining to atmospheric releases. We employ consequence modeling software tools to illustrate the influence of relevant system parameters on vapor cloud dispersion and compare the results with respect to the API Standard 521. Guidance will be presented for the designer to consider when evaluating their specific venting systems.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.