Abstract

A calculation method for flammability limits of gas phases with ethylene oxide in sterilisers was developed. Using the Software GasEq and the newly developed Makro "SterEx" for MS-Excel, flammability limits of mixtures with ethylene oxide, air and inert gases at temperatures between 20 degrees C and 100 degrees C and pressures between 0.4 bar and 1.0 bar can be calculated. This method can be used to easily determine safe operating conditions. The used semi-empirical model is based upon the assumption of constant flame temperature profiles at the flammability limits subject to the EO-concentration for different mixtures. To collect model parameters and to validate the model, several experiments with mixtures of ethylene oxide, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, water vapour and air were carried out to determine flammability limits. To simulate the structural conditions of sterilisers, the experiments were conducted in accordance to DIN EN 1839-B in a closed autoclave with temperatures and pressures relevant for sterilisation processes. The calculation of flammability limits of process gas mixtures with "SterEx" provides good agreement with flammability limits that were determined in experiments.

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