Oil Refinery Gets Blast Protection Upgrade for 2016

We were first approached in 2004 by a major Facilities Management Company to carry out what at the time was one of our largest ever projects. The former Shell oil refinery at Stanlow, Cheshire needed to protect personnel working in their main administration block from injury from broken glass in the event of an explosion.

Because of the very nature of the site and for obvious reasons, safeguards have to be put in place for the unexpected. A petro-chemical blast can be every bit as devastating as a bomb explosion so this called for the installation of a specialist Blast Mitigation Film. Lustalux duly obliged by installing a mixture of 200-micron clear safety film and 200-micron combination solar control window film. In addition to this, we also installed a “catch bar” system involving cleats bolted to the window frames which were connected by strong marine ropes spanning each pane of glass. These would act as extra protection, as a sheet of glass with film applied and subjected to a blast could potentially be an extremely dangerous flying object.

Because like most materials subjected to the ravages of both IR and UV light this type of window film has an effective life span of around ten years and is normally warrantied for that length of time by the film manufacturers.

In 2015 we were again approached by the FM Company to assess the current state of the film which had now been in place for over the ten year warranty period. The site had been acquired by a different petro-chemical company Essar but all the safety and blast mitigation considerations still applied.

The first process we carried out was a series of peel tests to determine the current effectiveness of the film should it be called upon to serve its purpose. Peel tests determine whether the film has become brittle and whether the adhesive system is still sufficient. This is a scientific measurable test where the film is cut into a narrow strip on the window and then has a series of weights attached to it. The length of time it takes for the weighted strip of film to travel down the window determines the condition of the installation. For detailed information on how this test is carried out please click here.

Once the peel tests were completed it was clear that the film had served its effective life span and would need replacing. In January of this year we set about a major window film replacement project involving the painstaking removal of the existing blast mitigation film and replacing it with a mixture of 200 micron safety film and 200 micron combination solar safety film manufactured by Solar Gard Saint Gobain. The combination film acts as a dual purpose product providing blast protection combined with heat and glare reduction in the office areas.

The whole process took around eight weeks to complete the 3000 square metre installation. Work was carried out partly by night to minimise disruption in this busy administration building.