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What is the risk? How does it happen?

May 28, 2018

How does it happen?


A deflagration explosion requires five elements, fuel, oxygen, dispersion, an ignition source and a confined space. Does your process generate these elements? Fuel can be a bulk material that is dispersed as a cloud of fine particles, a flammable gas or a volatile chemical that creates vapors. Oxygen is readily available in most plant processes. Ignition can be generated by a flame, a welding arc, spontaneous combustion, frictional or electrostatic sparking. Finally the majority of plant processes can provide the confined space. Once all five elements are brought together, the potential for an explosion can exist in your plant.


How does it develop?


An explosion is a propagating combustion wave – or deflagration – moving at less than the speed of sound. A flame front travels initially at slow speeds but increases velocity quickly which forms a leading high pressure or shock wave. Since most industrial processes are not designed to withstand the pressures developed in an explosion, a rupture occurs in the process releasing a destructive pressure shockwave and flame. The subsequent damage can include a much larger secondary explosion occurring when the initial explosion disturbs dust layers within the facility itself as well as a post-explosion fire.


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