DNV GL commissions world's largest industrial explosion chamber

The risk management company hopes testing will lead to safer operations at a reduced cost

Studying near-scale blasts could help improve predictive maintenance and safety response.
Studying near-scale blasts could help improve predictive maintenance and safety response.

In a secluded part of Northern England, on 50 hectares of the Ministry of Defence’s land, risk management company DNV GL sets off explosions and fires—in the name of science.

It conducts research to help improve industrial safety, and in early October 2018 commissioned the world’s largest industrial explosion chamber. Now, the company is poised to get more insight into explosions, and potential solutions to mitigate them and the threats they pose.

The company engaged Spadeadam Research and Testing in 2017 to run near full-scale explosion experiments a joint industry project led by DNV GL: CostFX. The project explores cost-efficient explosion load descriptions for process areas.

 “The aim is to reduce complexity and over design in current models and methodologies for explosion protection, while balancing demand for valid, accountable safety margins. It ultimately, would provide increased safety and reduced cost,” DNV GL explains on its website, referring to CostFX.

During testing, researchers determined that a larger, partially contained explosion area would provide deeper insight and validate previous results. The new explosion chamber can also be used for tests on passive fire protection performance verification.

“The successful commissioning of this chamber for the CostFX project has shown it to be capable of delivering explosion loadings in excess of 2 bar with durations greater than 200 ms,” says Dan Allason, head of research and innovation at Spadeadam, DNV GL – Oil & Gas. “This is well suited to providing the types of loads required for the project and will also provide a world leading capability for other explosion research.”  

“It is a good example of an investment made through observing research, speaking to customers, making improvements and providing a solution that will help test new and safer products,” says Hari Vamadevan, regional manager, UK and West Africa, DNV GL - Oil & Gas.   

Tests at Spadeadam include flammable gas dispersion, fires, explosions, pipeline fracture tests, blasts and product testing. It also conducts training for professionals, including LNG hazard awareness, ageing plant hazard awareness and blast and ballistic protection design.

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