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Terrifying Moment at Boiler House

Few days ago, I posted something about the condition in the boiler at the plant that i work in. We tried to solve the problem and after consulting with our water treatment boiler chemical vendor and his technical expert in America, it was decided to do a caustic boiling inside the boiler to remove all possible traces of oil which was suspected to be inside the boiler. We add up caustic, trisodium phosphate and sodium phosphate and heat up to about 60oC. After monitoring the chemical blending process and pouring the chemicals into the top manhole of the boiler, I leave the boiler and do some other jobs.

Later in the aternoon, after visiting the control room in my plant, I pay a visit to the boiler to see the progress there. I tried to ask to my colleague (the person in charge of the boiler), but he was busy doing something on the boiler control panel. At that moment, I was standing nearby and diagonal to the boiler. Suddenly, there was a very loud explosion. I can slightly see some red colour flame on my right. The incident happened very fast. I was on total shocked and immedietly tried to bend down to cover myself. Then I thought, I should seek cover to protect myself by hiding behind the small boiler house/room just on my left. It was difficult to open my eyes because of the smokes and thousands of fine particles/dust which were covering/flying around the area. I fear there might me a greater secondary explosion that might wipe off the boiler and surrounding area. If that had happened, we might be history!!!

When things became ok about 30 seconds to a minute later, I have a clear picture of what actually occured. I can see smokes and some people start gathering closer to check out the incident. The burner of the boiler which have few dozens of strong bolts holding them was lying on the ground next to the front of the boiler. Thick black coloured oil was expanding and flowing slowly from the burner. All the piping and other materials nearby the burner was damaged. It was not a nice scenery.

Then I saw some people coming down from top of the boiler. I was supprised that there were people there at that time. My colleague, the steam engineer, the chemical vendor and few maintenance fitter came down from the boiler and were supprised to see the burner was ripped off from the boiler body. At that moment, we were wondering, what caused the small explosion to occur? Investigation and theory on what went wrong began.

posted by zaki yamani @ 8:11 PM,

4 Comments:

At Saturday, October 14, 2006, Blogger Joe-Anybody said...

You were lucky
I am curious what happened
I work around a few boilers
I mainly am just testing the chemicals and either adding more by adjusting the feed pumps or blowing down the boiler to dilute.
I am new to all this and just came across your website. I will be back to your site to see what all is concluded or how the explosion was cause. I am glad you are OK
Thanks

 
At Saturday, October 14, 2006, Blogger chemical-engineering said...

Thanks for your attention. From what you've writen, I guess you are taking care of the boiler water treatment, checking the daily boiler water parameters and trying to control them to be in the desired range. Am I right. Well, the boiler is now ok. I'll share the latest info on the boiler on tomorrow's post.
By the way, what chemical brand you're using ??

 
At Saturday, October 14, 2006, Blogger Joe-Anybody said...

Hello back to you.
Thanks for the reply
I am assisting the head engineer, when needed and checking water samples for the proper range that they we need to be maintained as you mentioned. I am a novice to allot of this. I work at an Art museum and my job covers a wide range of maintenance. I am the telephone tech there for the facility but also ...help with lighting (a big deal in a museum) as well as maintaining temperatures and humidity for the controlled climate, and a dozen other duties.

Currently we are using a company named Mt Hood Chemical Co. which is in the Portland Ore area USA.
I really dint see where you were located ..I clicked your link on "neo-works" since your title caught my eye

.... my big interests these days is politics and trying to change the world ...one day at a time. I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest....An average American guy!

Boilers and HVAC equipment are interesting...as well as if not even more interesting is the "control" end. I used to work with really smart-teacher-engineer-friend and I was (actually still do)"learning new stuff every day" (like you too mentioned if I remember correctly) he moved across town we are still in touch ...but I miss working around all that knowledge on a daily basis.

Well it is the weekend and I am ready to kick back. I got your email and other link about bio fuel.....thanks!
all very interesting type of topics as well
I will check you blog back in a few days.
Keep up the good work in all you do!

Peace

 
At Saturday, October 14, 2006, Blogger chemical-engineering said...

Joe,
Good to know you better. Food to know your interest and your sincere intention and effort in making this world a better place.

Good to know that you're just like me, appreciating and enjoying the continuous feed of knowledge.

I'm located in Malaysia, to be exact, johor bahru, southern part of peninsular malaysia. I'm currently working as a process engineer, but my scope is more than that. Perhaps later i can brief to you more about it. Thanks for your support. I can see you have a very interesting blog and political stand. Excellent. Keep up the good work.

 

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The Author

zyz

I’m Zaki. I used to be a project, process and chemical engineer. Few years ago I successfully became a Chartered Engineer (IChemE) and Professional Engineer (BEM). I'm now employed as a chemical engineering educator/researcher/consultant. Hope you like reading my blog. I welcome any feedback from you. My email: zaki.yz[alias]gmail.com. TQ!


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