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FLAME ARRESTORS AND SHIELDING

The intention of the requirement to shield the valve discharge was to reduce the
possible danger to personnel from flame emission. However explosion testing has
shown that whilst a flame arrestor will work satisfactorily when shielding is not
fitted, when shielding is fitted, the energy from the discharge is focussed in one
direction, and there will be an emission of flames during an explosion. The fitting of
shielding also reduces the effective outflow area of a valve.
Since July 2002 it has been a Lloyds Register rule requirement to fit flame arrestors
and to test the relief valve with any proposed shielding to be fitted to the valve when
installed on the engine.
A test procedure for new crankcase relief valves has been developed over the past
four years by MAN B&W, The Physical Test Institute in the Czech Republic,
Hoerbiger, and various classification societies. It has been proposed that this
procedure be adopted by all classification societies.
The purpose of the test is to:
verify the effectiveness of the flame arrester.
verify that the valve closes after an explosion.
verify that the valve is gas/air tight after an explosion.
establish the level of over pressure protection provided by the valve.

The test is conducted by fitting the door to a test


vessel, the volume and dimensions of which is
determined by the size of door being tested. The
vessel is filled with an air methane mixture with a
9.5% concentration of methane. The mixture is
detonated by a small explosive charge. To test the
effectiveness of the flame arrestor, a polythene
bag with a volume of not less than 30% of the
test vessel is fixed over the valve. If the flame
arrestor works then the bag will just fill with gas,
if not the bag will melt and burn.

Inspection and Testing of Valves in Service.


Explosion relief valves are to be periodically inspected visually. The valve should be
inspected for damage, deformation, leakage and loose fittings on a monthly basis.
Particular attention should be paid to the condition of the flame arrester to ensure that it
has not become choked. It is vitally important that the flame arrester is in good
condition. A damaged flame arrestor will render it useless, and will result in the ignition
of the oil mist outside the crankcase.
The O-ring used for sealing the valve is subject to hardening and should be renewed
within 5 years of delivery. Only manufacturers supplied spare O-rings should be used in
the renewal process.
Crankcase relief valves are subject to survey. This usually entails stripping the valve
for inspection, and renewing the O ring seal. After reassembly the valve is tested
using a spring balance to measure the force needed to open the valve.
Hoerbiger recommend testing their valves using a pressure rig to ensure that the
valve opens and seals again after opening: Their instructions state:
Air pressure testing of explosion relief valve is to be carried out using a suitable test
rig assembly. The valve seat must be clean before lowering onto the rig. With the

valve bolted to the test rig open the air supply ball valve connection to atmosphere
and record the gauge pressure. Close the ball valve.
Connect a clean 3 -10 bar air supply to the test rig and open the ball valve. Audible
chattering of the valve plate opening/closing will be observed. Close the ball valve
and observe the gauge pressure. A pressure indication of between 40 and 60 mbar
should be held for one minute to demonstrate the valve tightness.
If the pressure is not held for one minute, the valve should be dismantled and the
rubber Oring renewed.