Etankfire seeks partners for ethanol firefighting research

By Susanne Retka Schill | March 22, 2012

The increased use of ethanol creates new fire risks, particularly when considering the potential for large tank fires. The behavior of a fire involving large volumes of ethanol is significantly different than a petroleum fire, or even a smaller railcar fire or a spill fire, according to the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden.

The institute is leading the Etankfire project—an effort to conduct large-scale tests to research best practices for fighting such a fire. Partners to date include Swedish ethanol producer, Lantmannen Agroetanol, the Swedish Petroleum and Biofuel Institute and the Swedish Fire Research Board. A fourth partner is close to being signed on which will allow detailed project planning to begin with the aim of conducting large-scale, free-burning tests after the summer.

At least 10 full partners are required to complete the proposed work in Phase 1. The Etankfire project will include a literature review, standard scale tests and laboratory scale tank fires along with investigating the behavior of large-scale ethanol storage tank fires. “Etankfire has the goal to provide a platform of knowledge to ensure proper investments in fire protection of ethanol storage facilities,” said Henry Persson, research project leader at SP Fire Technology.

Etankfire is open to all stakeholders. “As the need for knowledge is the same despite country or continent, we are seeking an international participation for the Etankfire project,” Persson added. “This will provide the best possibilities to develop future fire protection guidelines having a scientific base. With the U.S. the largest ethanol producer worldwide, the U.S. ethanol industry would, of course, be very welcome as partners. They have significant experience in handling ethanol, and would also benefit from the results from the project.”

Etankfire workshops were held last year, including one in June  in London and another in Kansas City in November. More information is available on the SP Technical Research Institute website.