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Gaseous Explosions in Pipes

[+] Author Affiliations
M. Kolbe, Q. A. Baker

Baker Engineering and Risk Consultants, Inc., San Antonio, TX

Paper No. PVP2005-71220, pp. 89-95; 7 pages
  • ASME 2005 Pressure Vessels and Piping Conference
  • Volume 4: Fluid Structure Interaction
  • Denver, Colorado, USA, July 17–21, 2005
  • Conference Sponsors: Pressure Vessels and Piping Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4189-8 | eISBN: 0-7918-3763-7
  • Copyright © 2005 by ASME


Gaseous explosions occurring in industrial piping and process systems have been recorded and documented since the early days of industrialization. Despite the efforts put forth by the academic and scientific communities in understanding these phenomena, these explosions are still occurring in industry. Often times, operating companies that suffered the explosions were unaware of the possibilities of explosion in their piping systems and as a result, installed control and safety systems were not adequate. The mitigation of gaseous explosions in pipes requires a basic understanding of combustion and detonation theory. These events are not confined to chemical and petroleum refining facilities; potentially, they can occur in any system where a flammable mixture can form in pipes. Gaseous explosions arise from the formation of a fuel and oxidizer mixture. Although many systems are known to carry both a fuel and an inert gas to dilute or suppress combustion, the flammability limits of this mixture are often a point of uncertainty. However, it must be understood that there are several factors that can lead a flammable mixture to a strong deflagration or potentially even a detonation. The following paper will discuss the basics of gaseous pipe explosions by defining the chemical and physical limits of both deflagrations and detonations. Examples of industrial accidents involving unique gaseous pipe explosions are provided in the paper as well as recommendations for prevention and mitigation of gaseous pipe explosions.

Copyright © 2005 by ASME
Topics: Explosions , Pipes



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