What do we mean when we say "flares"?
Flares are safety devices that are used at many petrochemical facilities to effectively burn industrial gases that cannot be returned to the process. Burning converts the gases into two common substances: carbon dioxide and water vapor.
The flare is an essential safety device that is designed:
- To protect our community and employees from exposure to pollutants
- To protect equipment from catastrophic failure (pressure relief)
- With safety front of mind: Flares are big enough to handle the largest release
What do you see when you notice a flare? At Dow, we aim to minimize the impact to the community when we operate our safety devices. If you are near the plant during flaring activity, you may notice:
- Light – Besides the flame itself, you will notice an orange glow surrounding the flame as well.
- Smoke – Only when necessary, smoke may be visible from the flare. This occurs at instances when there is a loss of steam to the tip of the flare due to a power interruption.
- Noise – The gases are mixed with steam and air at high volumes and velocities which cause an audible rumbling sound.
What's going on when you see a burning flare?
The flares are a permitted air pollution control device used as an outlet to burn excess gas during normal operations, maintenance activities, and partial or complete production unit startup and shutdown. In these scenarios, equipment and piping can become over-pressured. Then, the excess gas is released through pressure relief valves and sent to the flare stack through piping. The burning of the flare ensures the continued safe operations of the plant under all conditions.