Protection of combustible liquids

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Protection of Combustible Liquids Stored in Composite Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs) Research Project (PDF, 3 MB)

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Fire Protection Research Foundation report: "Protection of Combustible Liquids Stored in Composite Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs) Research Project"
Author: Jason P. Huczek, Southwest Researhc Institute
Date of issue: November 2006


Many industries utilize bulk packaging to store liquids, which are ultimately used for the production of commercial consumer products. Many of these liquids are classified as combustible liquids as defined by NFPA 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code. Due to market conditions and environmental regulations, there has been an increased interest worldwide in the use of composite intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) to store combustible liquids.

In the mid 1990's, the Fire Protection Research Foundation carried out a major fire test program to determine how composite IBCs storing flammable and combustible liquids could be safely stored and protected with a focus was on how well the containers survived an exposure to a flammable liquids fire. This research resulted in a formal container Listing process which, when combined with appropriate sprinkler protection, was intended to assure container integrity in the event of a warehouse fire.

Due to their lower susceptibiliy to ignition, Class III combustible liquids stored in composite IBCs may inherently be less hazardous than lower flash point liquids (eg Class II liquids) from an ignitability standpoint. Currently there is little data to fully evaluate the hazard and associated protection requirements of composite IBCs containing high flash point liquids.

In 2005, the Fire Protection Research Foundation undertook a research program to investigate the appropriate fire protection requirements for the storage of Class IliA and Class IIIB combustible liquids stored in generic (non listed) composite IBCs. This report details the testing carried out at Southwest Research Institute as part of a Phase I scoping study directed at this objective and is the companion to the October 2006 Summary Report on the project.