A detailed investigative failure analysis was conducted on an autoclave which blew apart in a furnace for no apparent reason. Bolt failure resulted in separation of the autoclave lid and subsequent destruction of the furnace. Analysis using metallography, fractography, mechanical testing and exemplar tests were performed on the bolt material. Mechanical engineering analysis and leak-before-break criteria were extensively analyzed. Results led to only one possible conclusion: that an explosion occurred within the autoclave. Suggestions for autoclave design are presented as a result of the analysis.