SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 11 October 2021

Failure Analysis of a Liquid Oxygen Valve: Internal Fire Only


The failure analysis of an internally fire-damaged liquid oxygen (LOX) gate valve is presented. The fire event did not breach the pressure containment of the valve or associated piping. The exact timing of the fire event was not clearly discernable. The valve represented the primary isolation valve below a large LOX tank and experienced 1 to 2 bar (static liquid head pressure). The valve body was not visible because it was located in an insulated enclosure. During a maintenance shutdown, the fire damage was observed internally. The PCTFE seat on the wedge of the gate valve was partially consumed in the fire. Most of the fire damage was concentrated on the upstream side of the valve and included the upstream piping toward the LOX tank. The predominant fire damage was consistent with stainless steel burning at the internal surfaces of the valve and piping. The failure analysis uncovered various types of contamination that were considered the potential sources of fuel present at the most probable origin. The most probable ignition mechanism identified was consistent with repetitive mechanical impact (vibrational) ignition of the contaminants. This paper summarizes the failure analysis and presents contributing factors and recommendations based on the findings.

Author Information

Chiffoleau, Gwenael, J.
WHA International, Inc., Las Cruces, NM, US
Miller, Derek
Air Products & Chemicals, Inc., Emmaus, PA, US
Forsyth, Brad
WHA International, Inc., Las Cruces, NM, US
Newton, Barry
WHA International, Inc., Las Cruces, NM, US
Forsyth, Elliot
WHA International, Inc., Las Cruces, NM, US
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Pages: 256–289
DOI: 10.1520/STP162620200034
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-7699-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-7698-0