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Why was the Texas fertiliser plant explosion so deadly?
The Conversation ^ | 4-19-2013 | David Cliff

Posted on 04/20/2013 6:59:56 AM PDT by Sir Napsalot

(snip) What makes ammonium nitrate explosive?

Ammonium nitrate, a common fertiliser additive, is a white crystalline solid at room temperature.

It is stable except when it is contaminated with organic (carbon-based) material.

In practice, it is commonly mixed with fuel oil to form an industrial explosive (called ammonium nitrate/fuel oil, or ANFO) and is widely used in the mining industry.

In the case of the explosion in West, something had to heat the ammonium nitrate in the fertiliser factory to a critical temperature of 300C for it to auto-ignite.

This would need to be either organic contaminants reacting with the ammonium nitrate or a completely separate fire that spread to the ammonium nitrate storage area.

Video evidence confirms a major high temperature fire was burning for some time before the detonation occurred.

At high temperatures, ammonium and nitrogen dioxide are formed when ammonium nitrate breaks down, and can react together to produce massive amounts of heat.

If the heat isn’t dissipated and the reaction rate is allowed to escalate, the reaction will eventually cause detonation.

In West, it would appear all the damage done was caused by the pressure wave generated by the blast rather than toxic gases, though this has not yet been confirmed.

(Excerpt) Read more at theconversation.com ...


TOPICS: Science
KEYWORDS: ammoniumnitrate; texas
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Note: This article is written by a professor of Occupational Health and Safety in Mining at Univ of Queensland in Australia, later part of the article then went on a discussion of mining in Australia.
1 posted on 04/20/2013 6:59:56 AM PDT by Sir Napsalot
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To: Sir Napsalot

Texas city disaster. Something like 580 killed.


2 posted on 04/20/2013 7:04:23 AM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: Sir Napsalot
ANFO is much safer to handle and use vs. other explosives. When I was a open pit coal mine manager, we would routinely use 250 pounds of ANFO in each hole drilled in the dragline bench. 7 inch diameter holes were 50-60 feet deep, on a 10 foot by 10 foot pattern. 40 or 50 holes ignited via a blasting box would really move your mortgage !
3 posted on 04/20/2013 7:09:56 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (NRA Life Member)
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To: Sir Napsalot

This is just stage III of the Obama administration trying to control: I.Guns II. Ammunition III. Explosives

Watch out as stage IV is to Control the People


4 posted on 04/20/2013 7:10:35 AM PDT by tired&retired
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To: cripplecreek
The fire could be a cover for a terrorist bombing.
5 posted on 04/20/2013 7:12:25 AM PDT by mountainlion (Live well for those that did not make it back.)
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To: tired&retired

Per the article: There have been a number of similar episodes such as the Texas City Disaster in 1947, where more than 570 people died after a cargo ship laden with ammonium nitrate exploded.

Bet that brought a few fish to the surface!!!


6 posted on 04/20/2013 7:13:43 AM PDT by tired&retired
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To: tired&retired

>>> Bet that brought a few fish to the surface!!!

Huh?


7 posted on 04/20/2013 7:21:27 AM PDT by Sir Napsalot (Pravda + Useful Idiots = CCCP; JournOList + Useful Idiots = DopeyChangey!)
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To: Sir Napsalot

Because explosions near where lots of people are tend to do that.


8 posted on 04/20/2013 7:24:22 AM PDT by metmom (For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore & do not submit again to a yoke of slavery)
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To: mountainlion

That is exactly what I was thinking......


9 posted on 04/20/2013 7:25:09 AM PDT by metmom (For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore & do not submit again to a yoke of slavery)
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To: Sir Napsalot

Tossing dynamite into the lake to shock the fish, they float.


10 posted on 04/20/2013 7:26:10 AM PDT by ican'tbelieveit
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To: Sir Napsalot

From Wiki: The Oppau explosion occurred on September 21, 1921 when a tower silo storing 4,500 tonnes of a mixture of ammonium sulfate and ammonium nitrate fertilizer exploded at a BASF plant in Oppau, now part of Ludwigshafen, Germany, killing 500–600 people and injuring about 2,000 more.


They used to use small charges of dynamite to loosen up the pile when it got compacted...


11 posted on 04/20/2013 7:28:37 AM PDT by USMCPOP (Father of LCpl. Karl Linn, KIA 1/26/2005 Al Haqlaniyah, Iraq)
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To: Sir Napsalot

This was an old lazy way of fishing - drop dynamite into the water and the concussion stuns the fish and makes them float to the surface. You scoop up the fish.

It works.


12 posted on 04/20/2013 7:30:24 AM PDT by volunbeer (We must embrace austerity or austerity will embrace us)
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To: cripplecreek

I read it was about 35 dead. Where did you get that number?

Course, with the whole Boston thing, everything else has taken a back seat.


13 posted on 04/20/2013 7:31:45 AM PDT by metmom (For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore & do not submit again to a yoke of slavery)
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To: tired&retired

I remember the Texas City explosions very well. I was an 11 year old 4th grade student in Beaumont, Texas at the time. I was in a classroom on the 3rd floor of our very old building. Our teacher was reading something to us at that moment. All of a sudden, the classroom windows started rattling. She looked up and said “rattle rattle rattle” and went back to reading.

Of course, we all learned later that day what caused our building to shake, though we were about 70 or 80 miles away.

Many years later, I was a student nurse at the John Sealy Hospital in Galveston. We had many patients still having plastic surgery done on their wounds from that explosion.....plastic surgery not being nearly as developed as it is today.


14 posted on 04/20/2013 7:33:56 AM PDT by basil
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To: cripplecreek

I remember the Texas City disaster, I was 7 and my parents lost several friends in the explosion. I have convinced myself that I heard and felt the explosion but maybe not. :)


15 posted on 04/20/2013 7:38:01 AM PDT by Ditter
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To: Sir Napsalot

I’m by no means an expert in such matters, but I have to wonder why, when the plant was fully engulfed in flames by the time the local fire department got there, why they decided to battle the fire rather than focusing all their efforts on evacuating the area?

I also read something that said that spraying water on the fire might have actually contributed to the explosion. I get that firefighters will spay water on tanks to keep them cool and prevent an explosion but from what I understand the fire was already so hot and intense, that spraying water on it was rather futile as they couldn’t even get close enough to spray water on the tanks holding the ammonium nitrate. There have been some questions raised as to the level of training in dealing with HAZMAT situations the members of the volunteer fire department had.

I also have to question the intelligence of people close to the fire, including the guy in the car with his daughter who was videoing it with his cell phone and others in the neighborhood who stayed around to watch the fire when the place went BOOM!

You would think that people living in that area might have been more aware that a fire at a fertilizer plant was not something to stand around and watch but something to get as far away from as quickly as possible.


16 posted on 04/20/2013 7:41:17 AM PDT by MD Expat in PA
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To: MD Expat in PA

My husband also said that spraying water on the fire contributed to the explosion.


17 posted on 04/20/2013 7:43:29 AM PDT by Ditter
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To: metmom

More deaths in the Texas disaster. More traumatic injuries in the Texas disaster. But completely ignored by the media. It would be poetic justice if a terrorist group claimed responsibility. I’d love to see the media trying to explain why they completely ignored a disaster that was 100 times worse than the one that happened in Boston.


18 posted on 04/20/2013 7:46:24 AM PDT by NKP_Vet
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To: MD Expat in PA
Same problem with Ethanol....burns with an intense but invisible flame....and needs special foam to put it out....

Just waiting for a big "ethanol" event.

19 posted on 04/20/2013 7:46:43 AM PDT by spokeshave (The only people better off today than 4 years ago are the Prisoners at Guantanamo.)
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To: Sir Napsalot

My question is WHY would anyone build houses anywhere near a fertilizer factory to begin with?


20 posted on 04/20/2013 7:48:24 AM PDT by TribalPrincess2U (0bama's agenda¬óDivide and conquer seems to be working.)
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