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View Diary: Monthlong investigation into cause of Texas fertilizer explosion leaves three possibilities (81 comments)

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  •  How is that possible? (1+ / 0-)
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    In the absence of safety measures, what prevents the fire from lighting the whole damned bunch?

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Sat May 18, 2013 at 02:39:28 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  i guess the shock came (1+ / 0-)
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      ahead of the thermal blast.

      AN needs heat and pressure.

    •  AN is pretty stable (2+ / 0-)
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      dinotrac, elfling

      Which is a major reason for its popularity. It is generally pretty hard to get it to detonate -- it needs to be sensitized (e.g., with a few % fuel oil), plus a blasting cap, and a stick or two of dynamite to get it to detonate reliably.

      In large quantities, it tends to absorb water and cake up into huge blocks. In ancient days, they actually used dynamite to blast the blocks apart. The Oppau Disaster in 1921 occurred due to that. Prilling (putting the AN in wax pellets) is now generally used to limit moisture buildup.

      Large quantities (tens-to-hundreds of tons) can spontaneously decompose and heat to ignition, particularly if contaminated. I'm wondering how they ruled out spontaneous ignition, but apparently they did.

      Once sufficiently heated, it can spontaneously detonate (ala the The 1947 Texas City Disaster).

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