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Abstract

A 127 cu m (4,480 cu ft) pressurized railroad tank car burst catastrophically. The railroad tank was approximately 18 m (59 ft) long (from 2:1 elliptical heads), 3 m (10 ft) in OD, and 16 mm (0.63 in.) thick. The chemical and material properties of the tank were to comply with AAR M-128 Grade B. As a result of the explosive failure of the tank car, fragments were ejected from the central region of the car between the support trucks from ground zero to a maximum of approximately 195 m (640 ft). The mode of failure was a brittle fracture originating at a preexisting lamination and crack in the tank wall adjacent to the tank nozzle. The mechanism of failure was overpressurization of the railroad tank car caused by a chemical reaction of the butadiene contents. The interrelationship of the mode, mechanism, and consequences of failure is reviewed to reconstruct the sequence of events that led up to the breach of the railroad tank car. Means to prevent similar reoccurrences are discussed.

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1993. "Tanks", Handbook of Case Histories in Failure Analysis, Khlefa A. Esaklul

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