Hybrid Explosion Investigation

F.E.S. (EX) Ltd. has a long standing relationship with a company that produces resins and paints for use by others, providing company-wide services.  Unfortunately they recently had an explosion in a paint mixing vessel. Luckily no-one was hurt, however there was initially no explanation for what happened.  It was imperative for our client to find out the cause of the explosion as soon as possible, in order to take measures to prevent the accident occurring again in the future.

Our process safety expert tasked with finding the cause of the explosion immediately began investigations into the incident, with a thorough review of the scenario leading up to the explosion taking several days to come to the conclusion.

The incident was very specialist, as the components to the incident in themselves were non-flammable.  In limited scenarios there is a theoretical risk that occurs when a non-flammable dust cloud and a non-flammable vapour cloud mix, as they can then be ignited as a ‘hybrid’. This was one such unfortunate incident.

The explosion occurred in a paint mixing vessel, with no obvious dust cloud and liquid below its flash point.  The investigation began with a thorough review of the ingredients – what was there, what could have been there, what may have been left behind from previous batches.

It was very difficult to ascribe a cause to this incident at first, as hybrid incidents occur so rarely. At the close of the investigation, with no other clear cause, the conclusion could be no other than a hybrid explosion.

The vessel involved in the incident was larger than normal, with a certain resin as an ingredient. In order to prevent similar accidents from happening in the future, we concluded that our client should make the mix in smaller vessels and with slower mixing speeds. By applying these preventative measures, it will stop vapours and powder being present simultaneously

Our process safety expert had the following to say about the incident:  “Although I’ve never investigated a hybrid before, I have investigated many other incidents.  It was very challenging as you are expected to come up with the answer – quickly.  I am satisfied with the conclusion. As it is currently the only hybrid I have investigated, I am very satisfied that we found the answer at the end.”

You can find out more about our Process Safety services here, and if you require our investigative expertise please do not hesitate to get in touch on enquiries@fes-ex.com or 01472 598 987.