- What is a Lower Explosive Limit?
- Define the term Flammable Range or Explosive Range
- How to determine the Lower Explosive Limit for a given gas in the air?
- Calculating LEL from gas concentration
- Determination of gas concentration from Lower Explosive Limit
- What is the importance of LEL?
- What is LEL & UEL?
- How to measure the Lower Explosive Limit of a gas?
- What is a Lower Explosive Limit detector?
- What is an example of a LEL?
- How to determine LFL and UFL?
- What type of gas is LEL?
What is a Lower Explosive Limit?
- Lower Explosive Limit (LEL) is the lowest or minimum concentration of flammable gas or vapour that will burn in air below which combustion or explosion is not possible.
- The Lower Explosive Limit (LEL) is expressed as a percentage of the gas or vapour in the air.
- The Lower Explosive Limit (LEL) range varies for different gases.
- Generally, the Lower Explosive Limit (LEL) for most flammable gases is very less than 5% by volume.
- At concentrations below the Lower Explosive Limit, there is insufficient fuel to sustain a fire or explosion.
- For example, if the Lower Explosive Limit for any given flammable gas is about 5%.
- If the concentration of flammable gas in the air is lower than the Lower Explosive Limit or below 5% is too lean to burn or support combustion.
- If the concentration of flammable gas in the air is higher than the Upper Explosive Limit or more than 5% is too rich to burn or support combustion.
- However, once the concentration of the gas reaches or exceeds its Lower Explosive Limit, there is a potential for ignition and combustion in the presence of an ignition source.
- It’s important to consider that the Lower Explosive Limit is just one part of the flammability characteristics of a substance.
- In other words, the Upper Explosive Limit (UEL) is the maximum concentration of a gas or vapor in the air and combustion is not possible because there is too much fuel.
- In working with gas detection systems, the concentration of flammable gas present is specified as a percentage of LEL (%LEL).
- Zero percentage Lower Explosive Limit (0% LEL) represents a combustible gas-free atmosphere.
- One hundred percent Lower Explosive Limit (100% LEL) represents an atmosphere in which combustible gas is at its lower flammable limit.
- The relationship between the percentage Lower Explosive Limit (0% LEL to 100% LEL) and percentage by volume varies for various gases.
Let us consider methane gas as a general example
This example represents the flammability of Methane or Natural Gas in Air.
- If the concentration of Methane gas in the air is about 0% to 5%, the mixture is too lean to ignite or burn.
- If the concentration of Methane gas in the air is about 5% to 18% the mixture supports ignition and is considered highly flammable.
- If the concentration of Methane gas in air is above 18% the mixture in the atmosphere is too rich for the methane to ignite.
Define the term Flammable Range or Explosive Range
- Flammable Range or Explosive Range is defined as the range between the Lower Explosive Limit and Upper Explosive Limit.
- Various process Industries deal with flammable gases or vapours often to measure and monitor Lower Explosive Limit levels to ensure safety and take precautions to prevent the accumulation of concentrations within the flammable range.
- Instruments such as gas detectors are commonly used to measure and monitor Lower Explosive Limit levels in various industrial settings.
How to determine the Lower Explosive Limit for a given gas in the air?
The Lower Explosive Limit for a given gas in the air can be calculated by dividing the unknown concentration by the 100% LEL shown in the table above.
Take about 2.5% of Methane in the air and divide it by 100% LEL of methane (5%), the result is 50% LEL.
(2.5% ÷ 5% = 50%).
Conversely, you can multiply the %LEL of the unknown concentration by the 100% LEL to obtain the % by volume.
(50% LEL methane x 5% = 2.5% volume).
Calculating LEL from gas concentration
Let us assume that we are using methane as a calibration gas of 1.75% by Volume.
Now to calculate the %LEL, divide the concentration by 100% LEL volume 5%.
(5% for methane gas)
now multiply this by 100 which gives 35.
So, this is 35% LEL Methane concentration gas
Determination of gas concentration from Lower Explosive Limit
To determine the gas concentration from the Lower Explosive Limit,
Initially, take the LEL level of the gas being used and multiply it by the 100% LEL.
Considering Methane gas as an example
Now dividing this by 100 will give 1.75.
So, the gas concentration is 1.75% volume of Methane.
What is the importance of LEL?
Importance of LEL Monitoring:
Early Gas Leak Detection: Prevents the accumulation of flammable concentrations.
Preventing Explosive Atmospheres: Minimizes the risk of creating explosive conditions.(To prevent catastrophic gas explosions)
Worker Safety: Provides early warnings for timely evacuation or action.
Protection of Facilities and Equipment: Safeguards against damage from fires or explosions.
Regulatory Compliance: Ensures adherence to safety regulations.
Optimized Emergency Response: Activates predefined protocols when concentrations approach unsafe levels.
Process Optimization: Informed decision-making for balancing safety and operational efficiency.
Maintenance of Equipment: Early identification of malfunctions for timely maintenance
What is LEL & UEL?
- LEL is the Lower Explosive Limit
- UEL is the Upper Explosive Limit
How to measure the Lower Explosive Limit of a gas?
The Lower Explosive Limit of a gas can be determined as a percentage of volume.
What is a Lower Explosive Limit detector?
An LEL Detector is an integral part of an entire gas detection system, it is also known as Gas Detector.
An LEL Detector or LEL Meter is used to detect the hazardous levels of a combustible gas or solvent vapour present in the air.
It is expressed in percent Lower Explosive Limit.
What is an example of a LEL?
If a gas concentration reduces below the lower limit, there is insufficient gas for the mixture to ignite.
Methane or Natural Gas has a 5% by-volume LEL and 18% by-volume UEL.
How to determine LFL and UFL?
LFL and UFL of flammable gas mixtures can be determined by using Le Chatelier’s equation,
What type of gas is LEL?
The minimum concentration of a particular combustible gas or vapour required for combustion in air is known as the Lower Explosive Limit (LEL) for that gas the amount of fuel and oxygen required differs for various combustible gas or vapour.