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Predict RPT

Predict RPT

The project Predict-RPT will seek to improve our understanding of the phenomenon of rapid (or explosive) phase transitions (RPT). This is becoming an important safety issue as the transport and utilization of liquefied natural gas (LNG) is increasing in Norwegian, European and Global context.

It is often necessary to transfer LNG in loading arms and lines directly above the sea. Examples are when ships and passenger ferries that use LNG as fuel are refueled and when LNG-carriers are loaded at liquefaction plants and LNG terminals.

During these operations, LNG may be accidentally spilt onto the sea. The water will be at least 160 °C warmer than the LNG. The LNG consists of several components, where the lightest is methane. The light components will start to vaporize quickly. In some cases, the LNG will become so hot that it can no longer exist as a liquid. At this point it will suddenly turn to gas - not only at the surface, but in a larger volume. The expansion that follows is a physical explosion that may cause harm to personnel and equipment.

Although historically the number of RPT accidents has been relatively low, large-scale experiments have demonstrated that vapor explosions can occur during LNG spills under industrially relevant conditions. The increased use of LNG in for example commercial transport vessels can lead to more incidents as well as a higher risk of injuries and loss of life. It is therefore important to better understand the RPT phenomenon during LNG spills on water.

There is a good deal of knowledge on the subject, but the physical mechanisms triggering the rapid phase transition are still poorly understood. This project will aim to shed light on the subject by analyzing the physical phenomena involved in a rapid phase transition through analysis of experimental data and development of a dedicated numerical model.

The project will also aim at establishing an experimental set-up where small-scale experiments can be performed at such an extent that statistical data will be obtained. This is necessary to quantify random processes and under which conditions a rapid phase transition might happen. Such knowledge will be used to develop safety guidelines, which can be employed by the industry. The project will educate one PhD candidate within modelling, with the possibility of an additional PhD candidate within experimental activity if funding for the experimental activity is obtained.


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Published 15 February 2016

Project duration

2015 - 2019