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CFD Analysis of Hydrogen Gas Venting in On-Site Sodium Hypochlorite Generation Systems

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On-site sodium hypochlorite generation systems are used worldwide in water and wastewater plants for disinfection. The on-site hypochlorite generation process is based on the electrolysis of brine and produces a low concentration (< 1%) sodium hypochlorite solution while consuming only water, salt and electricity. The primary by-product of the electrolysis process is hydrogen gas. At atmospheric pressure, hydrogen-air mixtures are flammable in concentrations ranging from approximately 4 to 74% by volume of hydrogen in air. To minimize the risk of hydrogen ignition, system manufacturers typically provide air blowers to dilute the hydrogen gas at the hypochlorite storage tank to less than 1% and vent it to the atmosphere.

In addition to air flow rate, variables such as tank geometry, nozzle position, air velocity, hydrogen velocity and time required for mixture determine whether the concentration of hydrogen vented to the atmosphere can be consistently maintained below the lower flammability limit.

In this work, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling techniques were used to simulate transient state conditions inside the sodium hypochlorite storage tank where hydrogen is diluted with air for several configurations and operating conditions commonly recommended by equipment manufacturers. Hydrogen concentration profiles were generated to determine whether the hydrogen concentration at the tank vent can be consistently maintained below 4% for each configuration case at the recommended operating conditions. The results obtained through this simulation can be used by equipment manufacturers, engineering consultants and water and wastewater operators to assist in assuring the safety and efficacy of hydrogen handling in new and existing on-site hypochlorite generation systems.
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Keywords: Hydrogen Handling; On-site Hypochlorite Generation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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