The Science Behind Plant Explosions
Chemicals are used in innumerable ways to make our lives more comfortable,
efficient, and convenient. Unfortunately, some chemicals are dangerous.
Although not all plant explosions are caused by chemicals, they are responsible
for a many dangerous accidents in plants and refineries across the nation.
If used improperly or handled ignorantly, chemicals can cause dangerous—even
Common work environments that involve chemicals include:
- Chemical Plants
- Oil Refineries
- Industrial Complexes
Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosions
Boiling liquid expanding vapor explosions (BLEVEs) are dangerous and can
easily cause fatalities, property damage, and catastrophic injuries. This
type of explosion occurs when a liquid stored in a sealed container begins
to boil. When a liquid substance is heated, it eventually turns into a
gas, which takes up more space than liquids. If the boiling liquid is
in a sealed container, the gas will expand and create pressure inside
the container. If there is enough space in the container, it will not
explode. However, the container will explode if the gas expands beyond
the capacity of the container.
The boiling temperature of a liquid is complete dependent on pressure.
Generally speaking, higher temperatures necessitate higher boiling temperatures.
If you place a cup of water in a vacuum and begin to decrease the pressure,
the cup will eventually boil at room temperature. Conversely, you could
keep the water from boiling at a normal temperature by increasing the
pressure in the room. Generally speaking, BLEVE explosions occur when
a liquid—such as CO2, oxygen, or industrial gases—are stored
in a container above its normal pressure boiling temperature. If the pressure
and the temperature cause the liquid to boil instantaneously, the reaction
could result in a BLEVE.
What causes a BLEVE?
BLEVEs are usually caused by some type of external heat source, such as
a fire. When pressurized containers contact an external heat source, the
substance inside may begin to expand. Although many industrial tanks are
built to hold an immense amount of pressure, they are not indefinitely
able to withstand extreme pressure. Although many explosions involve flammable
liquids, non-flammable substances may build up enough pressure to cause
a BLEVE explosion.
Understanding Chemical Explosions
Chemical explosions are caused by three elements:
- Creation of a Gas
- Dangerous Reaction
In order to explode, the chemicals must be able to create a large amount
of gas in a short amount of time. Often, the chemical acts as an explosive
fuel when it contacts oxygen in the air. Chemicals become dangerous when
they produce gases quickly. Sometimes, chemicals create gases that are
not likely to result in an explosion. For example, a coal fire creates
carbon dioxide and steam. This reaction is not likely to cause an explosion
because it creates gases slowly.
Heat and dangerous reactions are responsible for many
plant explosions. In the past, poor maintenance has resulted in gas leaks. When these leaks
come in contact with heat sources and begin to expand, they can explode.
If a chemical is released into a hazardous area, it may react with a heat
source and cause a serious accident. Sometimes, plants negligently use
impure chemicals. When impure chemicals are used, they produce large amounts
of dangerous gases.
Call Arnold & Itkin LLP for a Confidential Consultation
Arnold & Itkin, we believe that negligent and careless individuals should be held responsible
for their actions. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury
in a plant explosion accident, a plant explosion lawyer from our firm
can help. In order to collect financial compensation for your injury,
you must be able to demonstrate that another person was negligent and
that their careless behavior was directly responsible for your injury.
Our attorneys are experienced in a multitude of injury-related legal fields
and can help you obtain the financial compensation you need and deserve.
We have recovered billions of dollars for accident victims. Let us put
our experience to work for you! When you work with a lawyer from Arnold
& Itkin, you can have peace of mind knowing that a high-quality, dedicated,
and experienced attorney is on your side.
Contact our office today!