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View Diary: UPDATE: "Driverless" Crude Oil Train Explodes, Destroys Canadian Town (257 comments)

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  •  Yes, sometimes. (3+ / 0-)
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    LilithGardener, 6412093, Zwoof

    Yes, it can explode in some circumstances. You need three things: a certain concentration of flammable vapor, oxygen, and an ignition source. To get an explosion you need to have all three of those things in a confined space.

    The flash point (the temperature range where it will form a flammable vapor) for crude oil is between 20F and 90F, so that means it can be flammable at ambient air temperatures. One of the keys to safely storing and transporting petrochemicals is proper ventilation so that you never get the necessary concentration of flammable vapor for an ignition.

    So, as long as you have the stuff properly contained in a tanker car it's not that dangerous, relatively. Yet, once you rupture the tanker or spill the oil you lose your ability to control the vapor concentrations. Then, once the a fire is underway even the fuel still in intact tankers will autoignite once it gets heated to about 500F.

    All in all, crude oil is pretty nasty stuff. It's actually more flammable than some refined products, e.g.: diesel fuel, because it hasn't had the most volatile compounds, e.g.: butane, pentane, refined out of it yet.

    Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

    by Joe Bob on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 03:59:56 PM PDT

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