What are Gas Cylinders?
A gas cylinder is a pressure vessel for storage and containment of gases at above atmospheric pressure and may present a risk of explosion if not safely handled and stored. High-pressure gas cylinders are also called bottles. All gas cylinders contain gases under pressure and may present a risk of explosion if not safely handled and stored.
Inside the cylinder the stored matter may be in a state of compressed gas, vapour over liquid, supercritical fluid, or dissolved in a substrate material, depending on the physical characteristics of the matter.
A typical gas cylinder design is elongated, standing upright on a flattened bottom end, with the valve fitting at the top for connecting to the receiving equipment.
What is Gas Cylinder Storage?
Legislation requires that a site-specific risk assessment is required for each gas cylinder store, refer to The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations and The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations . Every storage circumstance must be considered individually and special circumstances may require variations on the recommended requirements.
For example the circumstances to consider would be storage weight:
To store up to 70kg you need a lockable cage, cabinet or enclosure. All cylinders must be treated as full unless they are dummy bottles or have been certified as gas free. Only five cylinders are allowed - even if some of them are empty. No more than five cylinders should be allowed on a retail display with total weight no more than 70kg.
Single cylinders larger than 20kg should not be displayed in shops. No more than four cylinders should be connected for demonstrating at any one time (total weight no more than 50kg). Storage can not be on staircases, near emergency exits or near to flammable materials.
To store up to 400kg you need the storage area to be at least 1m from a site boundary unless a fire wall is provided. Only vehicles delivering Liquid Petroleum Gas should be allowed within 1m of the storage area. No opening into buildings, cellars or pits should be within 2m of an Liquid Petroleum Gas storage area. No flammable liquids, combustible, corrosive or oxidising material should be stored within 3m of an LPG store.
Compressed oxygen must be kept 10m away from all flammable gases; these include propane, butane and dissolved acetylene. Storage of Liquid Petroleum Gas should be clearly marked and suitable notices displayed and storage should not hinder or endanger the means of escape from the premises. The same restrictions apply to empty cylinders as to full ones.
To store over 400kg you need, other safety requirements exist, including the maintenance of a minimum separation distance between bottle storage and any boundary, building or fixed source of ignition.
This is determined by the total amount of Liquid Petroleum Gas stored and the size of the largest stack of bottles - whichever gives the greatest distance. In certain circumstances this separation distance may be reduced by the use of a radiation wall.
Why is ventilation of Gas Cylinder Storage important?
Ventilation is required to ensure that any small leaks of gas is adequately dispersed and will prevent risk to individual health. An outdoor store with open or ventilated sides is considered to provide adequate ventilation and is the preferred option within its own industry.
A store with less than 25 % of the perimeter open is to be considered an indoor store.
A store may have restricted ventilation due to adjacent buildings or a wall acting as a store boundary. It is necessary to ensure that there is thorough ventilation in all areas inside the store to help disperse any unwanted toxic exposures.
Where the configuration of the store restricts air flow, the installation of high and low-level vents should be considered to ensure a regular change of air. The placement of the vents will be subjective to the weight of the gas stored and where it will accumulate within the atmosphere. A minimum recommended separation distances should also be considered when locating vents.
Indoor Gas Cylinder Storage - Fixed Gas Detection System
A Fixed Gas Detection system is a detection system that, when calibrated to its desired specification, continuously samples the atmosphere and when toxins are detected (as per the calibration), the system will trigger signals that alert individuals that toxins are present via audio and visual displays produced by a Sounder Beacon.
These triggers can also be used trigger ventilation systems. This is a beneficial method that automatically disperses atmospheres that are known to be toxic.
This reduces risk of unwanted exposure and saves time and money when considering dispersion time and any temporary store closures that may need to be instructed.
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