Metallurgical Failure Analysis of a Propane Tank Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion (BLEVE)
A fire in a storage yard engulfed several propane delivery trucks, causing one of them to explode. A series of elevated-temperature stress-rupture tears developed along the top of the truck-mounted tank as it was heated by the fire. Unstable fracture then occurred suddenly along the length of the tank and around both end caps, following the girth welds that connect them to the center portion of the tank. The remaining contents of the tank were suddenly released, aerosolized, and combusted, creating a powerful boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion (BLEVE). Based on the metallography of the tank pieces, the approximate tank temperature at the onset of explosion was determined. Metallurgical analysis provided additional insights as well as a framework for making tanks less susceptible to this destructive failure mechanism.
D. F. Susan, K.H. Eckelmeyer, A.C. Kilgo, Metallurgical Failure Analysis of a Propane Tank Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion (BLEVE), Handbook of Case Histories in Failure Analysis, Vol 3, Edited By Larry Berardinis, ASM International, 2019, p 483–491, https://doi.org/10.31399/asm.fach.v03.c9001821
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