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The Blast Os the Explosion

The Blast Os the Explosion

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Published by: api-3859679 on Oct 19, 2008
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Explosion Hazard Assessment: A Study of the
Feasibility and Benefits of Extending
Current HSE Methodology to take Account of
Blast Sheltering

Project Leader: Dr M Ivings
Authors: Dr C Catlin, Dr M Ivings, Mr S Myatt

Dr D Ingram, Prof D Causon, Dr L Qian
Fire and Explosion Group
\u00a9 Crown copyright 2001
Broad Lane, Sheffield S3 7HQ
0114 289 2000
0114 289 2500
Objectives / Background

This study concerns the methodology used by MSDU, HSE in assessing Land Use Planning
cases (LUP) near Hazardous Installations storing LPG and presenting a Vapour Cloud Explo-
sion (VCE) hazard. The work is also relevant to all risk assessment and consequence models
that are used to assess the hazard posed by blast.

The methodology currently used by MSDU assumes that the blast propagates without interac-
tion with any buildings or terrain features that may lie between the explosion source and the
proposed site. Thus the estimate of the incident peak positive overpressure is likely to be
conservative. The probability of fatality is then inferred from the peak positive overpressure
using war-time data. This allows the vulnerability of the public to be assessed from which
consultation distance and hazard zone boundaries are determined.

The leading shock wave is the highest frequency component of the blast wave and will, there-
fore, be the most affected by interaction with obstacles. A revised methodology which takes
account of obstacle interaction will, therefore, exhibit sheltering effects. Thus there are situa-
tions where buildings that lie between the explosion source and the proposed site will provide
substantial sheltering in the region of the proposed construction. In such situations it is
conceivable that the existing methodology places the hazard zone boundaries at substantially
larger distances than is required to maintain an acceptable probability of fatality. A revised
methodology, therefore, which takes sheltering into account could potentially free-up substan-
tial areas of land around existing and future hazardous installations.

Main Findings

Predictions of Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) simulations have been compared against
a limited number of field-scale experiments which investigate the effects on the blast
overpressure of the intervening obstacles. This has established that sufficient accuracy can be
obtained using CFD methods without a prohibitive requirement of staff or computing
resources. It has been shown that for simple linear rows of square cross-section buildings that
three-dimensional CFD simulations provide a very accurate predictive method but require
substantial computing and staff-time resources. However the application of a two-dimensional
axi-symmetric approximation can also be used in the computations to yield adequate accuracy
using contemporary workstations and a simulation turnover of less than a day. This has
enabled the two-dimensional CFD to be used to simulate a range of cases for different build-
ing layouts and sizes.

The peak positive overpressures determined from these simulations have provided sufficient data with which to propose a preliminary methodology for incorporating the effects of shelter- ing into existing explosion hazard assessment models. The methodology amounts simply to determining the TNT mass-scaled height of the buildings, and their intervening distances, and referring to look up tables to determine the relevant sheltering factors. These can then be used

to determine the inward shifts of the hazard zone boundaries. The preliminary methodology
has been applied to two representative scenarios, the larger being on the scale of the Flixbor-
ough disaster, and has shown that the outer and inner boundaries of the Outer Zone can be
moved in by as much as 80 m and 50 m respectively. These distances represent substantial
free-up of land and therefore suggest that a revised methodology could significantly increase
the land available for development around a major hazard site and/or lead to less restraints on
the site owner.

Main Recommendations

A preliminary methodology for incorporating the effects of sheltering into existing explosion hazard assessment models has been proposed. MSDU can now decide on the appropriateness of including the sheltering effects of buildings in their assessment of LUP cases. This will crucially depend on the fact that intervening buildings are not necessarily permanent and their removal will change the consultation distance.

The further development of the methodology described in this report will lead to a useful tool that could be used in the preparation or assessment of COMAH safety reports where blast is a significant hazard.

The development of the methodology should be based on a programme of two and three
dimensional CFD simulations validated against further blast experiments.

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