Ben Cantrick (mackys) wrote,
Ben Cantrick
mackys

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[MeFi] Why liquid nitrogen containers have vents, or 1200 PSI is not your friend.

The cylinder had been standing at one end of a ~20' x 40' laboratory on the second floor of the chemistry building. It was on a tile covered 4-6" thick concrete floor, directly over a reinforced concrete beam. The explosion blew all of the tile off of the floor for a 5' radius around the tank turning the tile into quarter sized pieces of shrapnel that embedded themselves in the walls and doors of the lab. The blast cracked the floor but due to the presence of the supporting beam, which shattered, the floor held. Since the floor held the force of the explosion was directed upward and propelled the cylinder, sans bottom, through the concrete ceiling of the lab into the mechanical room above. It struck two 3 inch water mains and drove them and the electrical wiring above them into the concrete roof of the building, cracking it. The cylinder came to rest on the third floor leaving a neat 20" diameter hole in its wake. The entrance door and wall of the lab were blown out into the hallway, all of the remaining walls of the lab were blown 4-8" off of their foundations. All of the windows, save one that was open, were blown out into the courtyard.


http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2006/03/08/how_not_to_do_it_liquid_nitrogen_tanks.php

Apparently the tank failed at 1200 PSI after some total moron welded the vent openings shut. A 20" diameter cylinder has a bottom circle area of 314 square inches. 314 times 1200 is 376,800 lbs... or 188.4 tons.
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