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Friday, June 14, 2013

detecting leakage in LPG Gas cylinders and some safety tips

For long people cooked using wood as fuel and then came kerosene stoves… using the pump stove is an art, of which not many of you would be aware of. In mid 1970s, slowly the kitchens of households in Chennai changed… still many feared the ‘pressure cooker’ and LPG stove so much ~ life was not all that comfortable for them…….though both meant faster and easier cooking – the deliciousness of course, was not based on what was used but more on who did it… !!

A couple of months back, there was the news of 3 members of a family suffering severe burns from an LPG cylinder blast in their house.  It was stated that leakage from a damaged rubber tube that connected the gas stove to the cylinder was suspected to be the reason behind the blast. Due to the impact, windows and electrical equipment in the 300-sq. ft. house were damaged. Neighbours rescued the injured and alerted fire fighters and the police. Doctors at KMCH said the three were in critical condition with more than 70 per cent burn injuries on the chest and abdomen. Sad such a thing occurred…..

In another incident narrated by the mechanic, people heard the hissing sound and saw the gas leak – but kept a concrete slab on the valve, thinking that it would arrest the flow………wrong thinking ! ~ the pressure lifted and threw the slab away and the gas leak resulted in an explosion damaging the property around.

There are some basic safety to be observed. It of course starts with your buying the LPG stove and cylinder. The stove must be of approved make and cylinders must be purchased only from authorized dealer.  When the gas cylinder gets delivered at home, one has to ensure that the gas seal is present and in tact………..this is not practicable  in many household where both are employed ~ the delivery boy simply places the cylinder and goes away.

Some of the safety rules include : keeping windows open to ventilate; not placing inflammables near the flame; not leaving the cooking unattended.  One should always keep the LPG valve / regulator switched off when your gas stove / oven is not in use, especially at night and when going on a holiday. The cylinder should be stored in an upright position. 

We always talk about smelling gas leak.  Actually, natural gas is odourless.  The red cylinder that we use contains the natural gas that’s used for cooking called Liquefied Petroleum gas (LPG). The gas  supplier mixes odourless natural gas in the form of LPG with strong smelling pungent gases that enables one detecting a leak very easily when it leaks.  Human noses can easily detect sulphur compounds that belong to the Thiol class. Other compounds like ethanethiol and propanethiol are added to increase the amount of smell that these gasses give. These compounds are called warning agents, because they help warn you of a gas leak.

The other day at home,  there was some smell and a feeble  hissing sound  could be heard.  When you remove the regulator, you can observe a nozzle like thing, which gets pressed by the regulator, thereby releasing the gas ~ around that is a rubber which on that day was found damaged and hence releasing gas involuntarily. Good enough, the mechanic who was called, did attend immediately and changed the rubber, charging a small fee.  Left unnoticed and unattended, this could cause big trouble.  This rubber costs little and it is the primary duty of LPG deliverer to check and ensure that this is proper……leaving our own safety too others is never a good idea…

Read of a device that claims to help prevent leakage of combustible gas from domestic LPG cylinders. Developed by Gas Safe India, the excess-flow and shut-off device uses a temperature-activated and pressure-aware mechanism to automatically stop the flow of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from its cylnder in the event of excess flow or a change in temperature. Known as Gas Safe, the device can be fitted into any LPG cylinder and is the first-of-its-kind safety valve; there is also another safety device ‘Gas suraksha’ promoted by Suraksha India.   It has a shut-off mechanism. It is claimed that a sudden increase in gas flow (for example from the hose rupturing) changes the pressure around the shut off element, lifting it up and causing it to plug the exit to the chamber and stop the flow of gas completely. The shutoff element will stay in this position until it is pushed down on the gauge, manually.

Safety is paramount and be careful always

With regards – S. Sampathkumar


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