Discovered by Edmund Davy, in 1836, Acetylene is an extremely unstable and flammable gas and can form an explosive mixture in the broad range of LEL – 2.5% TO UEL – 80%.
Being reactive, Acetylene gas poses an additional hazard to other flammable gases. Under certain specific conditions, even in the absence of any oxygen/air, acetylene can decompose into its integral elements, carbon and hydrogen during which situation, hydrogen will burn rigorously and cause major fire/explosion. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, there are specific legal duties relating to acetylene. Relevant I.S. also exists for safe use of compressed gas cylinders containing D.A.
It is essential that the information provided by acetylene gas supplier and the manufacturer for the users with any complex or specialist requirements should be verified before it is first put into use. Trained and competent persons are only eligible to make any changes in the equipment used/to be used with acetylene gas.
Explosion hazard of acetylene cylinders
An acetylene cylinder has a different design from that of other gas cylinders. It consists of a steel shell with a porous mass. The acetylene gas in the cylinder is dissolved in acetone which is kept absorbed by the porous mass. Decomposition of the acetylene is triggered by heat, e.g. when it is: involved in a fire; scorched by flames from a blowtorch; or involved in a flashback.
How to prevent flashback
Before use check
- That it is safe for use;
- Identification on the cylinder;
- That it is not damaged and is clean.
- Turn off all valves (at cylinder, blowpipes etc.);
- Vent excess gas from the hoses;
- Make sure, there is no obvious damage.
- Do not use oxy/acetylene equipment, if you aren’t trained for the same.
Handle acetylene cylinders with care
- Keep them in an upright position
- Do not jar or drop them,
- Do not roll them across the floor.
Being a compressed gas which is used as a fuel and is stored in a liquid state, acetylene cylinder will only work properly if the tank is used in the upright position. Storing or using, the tank in any other position can be extremely dangerous.
Always remember Acetylene is basically an unstable gas which requires due care and proper training for safe use.
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