Analysis of Combustible Dust Explosions

High-Fidelity Analysis of Combustible Dust Explosions to Assess and Mitigate the Hazards to Personnel and Property



K&C has developed a unique approach to more effectively assess the personnel and property hazards from combustible dust explosions and fires, using methods consistent with NFPA 68. OSHA and NFPA codes require an assessment of all physical and health hazards posed by combustible dusts. Processors, manufacturers and importers must consider the potential hazard exposures that may occur under normal conditions of use or in foreseeable emergencies.

Ease of ignition and the severity of combustible dust explosions and fires are complex to assess as such events are influenced by several factors including particle size, moisture content, ambient humidity, oxygen available for combustion, the shape of dust particles, and the concentration of dust in the air. These physical characteristics can change during manufacturing, use or while the material is being processed.  Furthermore, even weak explosions can cause significant damage, injury and death, such as a sugar (dust explosion class: St 1) fueled explosion in 2008 that killed 14 workers.


High-Fidelity Analysis

K&C’s unique approach utilizes high-fidelity computational methods to model the internal expansion of high pressures gases associated with combustible dusts. The explosion and subsequent damage to the facility can be calculated with predictions for debris breakup, debris velocity, blast pressures, fire migration and heat transfer, facilitating quantitative assessment of the associated hazards for personnel and property.

The benefits, in addition to meeting enforced OSHA and NFPA requirements for hazard assessments, of this approach supports parallel safety and operational activities, including:

  • Design of mitigation measures to reduce risks to personnel and property.
  • Design of new or retrofit construction by providing blast/debris loading.
  • Siting of new/adjacent facilities by providing safe standoff distances.
  • Quantitative risk and loss estimation for facility managers and insurers.

Dust Explosions
Past K&C clients have included:

  • Global providers of food and agriculture products and services.
  • US exporters of grains, oilseeds, and wheat to global markets.
  • Consultant civil and structural engineering firms.


For more information, refer to our publication here