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Natural Gas pipe

  1. Jan 2, 2012 #1
    Metal pipe and electric field


    Consider a metal pipe in which a natural gas and oxygen is flowing. One end of pipe is connected with high potential electric wire from grid station and other end is earthed.
    Whether explosion would result from it? please explain this to me.

    Last edited: Jan 2, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 2, 2012 #2
    Well considering most pipes that carry natural gas are a) made out of a polymer and b) have no oxygen in them. Then your senario isn't really valid.

    If the pipe was made from metal then it may explode but you would need either the pipe to heat up sufficiently to ignite the gas or for it to spark somewhere.
  4. Jan 2, 2012 #3


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    It (has been) a common practice to use steel (usually galvanized), water pipes a grounds for a home electrical supply. (Clamp/connectors are sold for the purpose). You might be describing a case of someone hooking a ground to a gas pipe, not knowing, (or maybe not caring), that it's a gas supply line.

    Or, YES! Gas and oxygen mixed in the proper range will ignite given enough heat. A 1/2 inch steel pipe could pass ALLOT of current without warming much though, is my guess.
  5. Jan 3, 2012 #4


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    u2 wa, Are you describing some real situation? Why would anyone do what you are asking about?

    Consider first the metal pipe with no gas. Connect a "high potential electric wire from grid station" to one end and the other end to earth. This would result in MAXIMUM CURRENT flow, known as an electrical short-circuit. This would cause safety devices called circuit breakers to open almost instantly, thereby removing the applied voltage.

    Now, one might expect that so much current would heat up a metal pipe. But the current only flows for a few milliseconds, so forget any heating. There is also no reason to expect any arcing in the scenario you describe.

    Now, fill that pipe with some mixture of natural gas and oxygen. What happens? Nothing.
  6. Jan 3, 2012 #5


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    The ignition mechanisms would be the same as those in high purity oxygen pipelines. In addition, static electric buildup could create an ignition.
  7. Jan 3, 2012 #6
    As the pipelines don't have oxygen in them, and oxygen needs to be present to support combustion, the scenario is not likely.

    Too much or too little oxygen will prevent combustion. There is a range required for ignition.
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