Buncefield blast study
London – The Steel Construction Institute (SCI) is to project manage a joint industry research project to improve the understanding of explosion mechanisms such as might have been at play in the 2005 Buncefield incident, which resulted in tremendous damage to the outlying area.
Detailed analysis from earlier work supports the proposition that the surrounding site boundary vegetation accelerated the flame. This is believed to have caused part of the vapour cloud to detonate, though there were also other novel mechanisms considered.
The new research, which includes large and medium scale tests as well as analytical work, will focus on the following aspects, most of which remain outside the capabilities of modelling tools:
- flammable cloud development following large losses of primary containment,
- the characteristics of explosions involving large flat flammable clouds
- the interaction of such explosions with vegetation.
- the likelihood of more novel mechanisms.
The results of this study will to lead to the development of practical industry guidance on the propensity of various hydrocarbons to develop flammable vapour clouds and a better understanding of explosion mechanisms when such clouds are ignited. The study will also provide data that can be used in the development and validation of predictive assessment tools.
This research, which started at the beginning of July 2010 is expected to take around 2 years to complete. It is being sponsored by the Health and Safety Executive, Petrobras, BP, Total, Shell and Statoil.
Any other companies interested in sponsoring this project should contact Dr Bassam Burgan at the SCI on: +44 (0)1344 6265625.