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Gas and fire detection in a tankage area

A new detection system in a refinerys tankage area has transformed the

level of safety in the event of gas leakage and fire
Tpra Kirikkale Refinery

state of the art gas and

fire detection system has
been installed in Turkish
Petroleum Refineries (Tpra)
purpose of the system is to
detect both fire and gas leakages across the entire tankage
area. The detection system is
based mainly on hydrocarbon
gases, so most of the detectors
are of the hydrocarbon type
and calibrated with reference
gases. Furthermore, flame,
hydrogen, hydrogen sulphide
and linear heat detectors are
located wherever appropriate.
In total, there are 169 hydrocarbon (HC) detectors, two
hydrogen sulphide detectors,
49 flame detectors, one hydrogen detector, and seven linear
heat detectors.
In the first step of the installation of the detection system,
the tankage area was divided
into eight separate segments.
The criteria for establishing this
separation of the sectors is the
area, and the distance between
tanks and detectors.
The main objective of the
system is to detect both fire
and gas leakages in the tankage area. All of the tanks have

Figure 1 Overview of tankage area

at least one hydrocarbon detector at their entry or exit points.

Besides the tanks, there are
four pumping stations to be
considered. Flame detectors
have been placed at high
stations. The most important
function of the system is to
make operators aware of any
liquid leakage around the dyke
of the tanks. Hydrocarbon
detectors help the system to do
Linear heat detection (LHD)
systems are installed on the
surface of floating roof tanks.

Seven linear heat detectors are

positioned on the system.

Division of the tankage area

into regions

The tankage area has been

separated into smaller sections,
or regions, for better control of
the system. In each of these
regions, alerting flash lamps
and horns are installed. When
the detectors of a region sense
a gas escape, the flash lamps
and horns are activated. An
overview of the tankage area
can be seen in Figure 1. As
indicated, it is divided into

Gas 2015

Naming detectors

Figure 2 Detail of a tankage region

many smaller areas.

The main criterion for determining the area of each of
these divisions is the number
of detectors required within it.
Figure 2 shows a more detailed
overview of an individual

How to locate detectors

The locations of the detectors

are decided according to different criteria for pumping
stations and tankage areas, but
the main criterion for positioning any detector is for it to be
close to a potential explosion
Detectors are located at the
entry and exit points of tanks
since leakages tend to occur
where pumps and other equipment that handle materials
entering and leaving the tanks
are located.
Flame detectors are positioned in the tankage areas
four pumping stations, taking
into account items of critical
equipment. The flame detectors
are placed on high platforms to
broaden the area each detector
observes. In addition, there are

2 Gas 2015

flame detectors in the LPG

tanks area.
Hydrogen sulphide detectors
are located in the control room
buildings, close to the ground.
Furthermore, hydrogen detectors are positioned in the
higher parts of electrical
To summarise, detectors are
located according to their
distance from potential explosion points and the molecular
weight of the gas each detector
is designed to detect. If the
molecular weight of the sensing gas is higher than the
molecular weight of air, the
detector is positioned close to
the ground. In other circumstances, the detectors are
located in high positions.



Remote input
Out (RIO) panel

Control Room

Figure 3 Carrying the signal to the DCS

Each detector is named according to the type of gas it senses

and the tankage or pumping
station number where it is positioned. The name of a detector
begins with the name of the
tankage or pump station and
continues with an abbreviation
of the detector type, such as
hydrocarbon (HCD), hydrogen
sulphide (HSD), flame (FLD),
and LHD. Finally, the number
of detectors present in a location is added to the name. An
example of nomenclature for
several detectors is:
4101- HCD- 001: Tank 4101
first hydrocarbon detector
3160- HSD- 001: 3160 Building
3100- FLD- 009: 3100 Pump
station ninth flame detector
4218- LHD- 001: Tank 4218
linear heat detector

Carrying signals to the DCS

All detector signalling devices

are connected to a control
board via gas detection system
(GDS) panels. Detector signals
are carried to junction boxes via
cables. In the junction boxes,
these signals are jointed and
carried by main cables to the
control board. If the distance
between a junction box and the
control board is not too far, the
junction boxs main cables are
connected directly to the
control board.
Remote input-output (RIO)
panels are employed as gas
detection system panels in the
field. The reason for using RIO
is the relatively long distances
between the detectors and the
control board. Communication
between RIO and GDS is
achieved by Modbus which is

faster and safer at carrying long

distance signal applications.
The signals combined in GDS
are sent to DCS via instrument
cables. A connection diagram of
the system is shown in Figure 3.

System redundancy

The system is redundant in

both the GDS and the DCS
panels. A GDS panel sends the
duplicated data with separate
cards. There is no connection
between these two communication cards.
In the DCS, there are two
redundant Modbus cards: the
master and the slave. Each card
receives signals from separate
GDS communication cards. The
master DCS card scans the field
and accepts data from the GDS
panel. If there is any fault in
the master DCS card receiving
data from the field, the slave
DCS card begins to accept data
from the other GDS communication card.

LHD terminology

LHD becomes compulsory as

the risk of fire increases above
tanks. LHD terminology is
based on resistance change in
an electrical cable. As the
amount of heat increases, there
is an increase in resistance
caused by the length of the
The main leakage points for
tanks are seals. LHD cable is
located close to the seals. At
Tpra, we have applied LHD
systems to floating roof tanks.
LHD cable is placed close to
the second seal and moves as
the roof of the tank moves.
There are special mechanisms
to protect the cable from
mechanical damage during
such movement.

Sprinkler systems

systems in the tankage area:
one in the marker building and
the other in the LPG tanks
region. The philosophy is similar in both systems. Flame
and hydrocarbon detectors are
connected to the sprinkler
systems. If there is an alarm in
any flame detector, the sprinkler
Furthermore, when there are
alarms in any two hydrocarbon
detectors, the sprinkler system
is similarly activated.

Alternatives and improvements

The main alternative to the

system established by Tpra
is to use wireless detectors. An
advantage of a wireless system
is avoiding the need for underground
Installation of some parts of
the system has been difficult
because of the need to dig up
thousands of metres of ground.
Wireless detectors are thus
easier to maintain. The chief
disadvantage of a wireless
system is that the detectors are
open to possible noise and
other disturbances.
We could also improve the
system by adding more hydrogen sulphide detectors close to
the tanks.

Manual call point

The manual call point (MCP) is

a manually activated component of the gas detection
system. It is used if there is any
leakage or fire and the automated system is not activated.
In other words, it helps the
system to warn operators when
any alarm situation arises
outside the scope of the detection system.


In this article, the main points

of the gas and fire detection
system in the tankage area of
Tpra Kirikkale Refinery have
been introduced. The system
cost million dollars to install
and is unique.
With the help of this new
system, the tankage area is
safer than before and its installation
compulsory in view of the risk
of fire and gas leakages. The
system is used efficiently by
the tankage areas unit operation team, and different types
of detector in the system
include flame, hydrocarbon,
hydrogen sulphide, linear heat
and hydrogen.
1 Turkish Petroleum Refineries, Kirikkale/
Turkey, Experiences.
2 h t t p : / / l i f e s a f e t y m a g a z i n e .
Nyaz Bozkurt is Instrumentation
Chief Engineer in the Projects and
Investment Department of Turkish
Petroleum Reneries Kirikkale Renery,
where he has managed various types of
instrumentation and electrical projects.
His previous role was Advanced Process
Control Engineer, where he established
many process control techniques for
different units. He holds degrees from
the electrical and electronics engineering
departments of Middle East Technical
University, Ankara,Turkey.

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