1st Key: Understanding Blast Pressure

A blast wave is a type of shock wave that is created by a sudden and intense release of energy, such as an explosion.

When an explosion occurs, a large amount of energy in the form of a rapidly expanding sphere of hot gases is released. As the sphere expands, it creates a high-pressure shock wave that travels through the surrounding air, creating a blast wave.

Blast pressure loads can cause significant damage to buildings. The blast pressure load generated by an explosion is composed of two main components: the positive pressure wave, which is generated by the initial blast and pushes outward, and the negative pressure wave, which is generated by the subsequent vacuum created by the blast which pulls inward. Both of these pressure waves can cause damage by inducing shear forces, bending moments, and other stresses.

A blast wave can cause damage in several ways.
  • It creates a sudden and powerful change in air pressure
    The positive pressure wave (overpressure) can push objects away from the source of the explosion causing them to collide with other objects. The negative pressure wave (under pressure) can cause objects to be pulled toward the explosion and then thrown back.
  • It can create a rapid change in temperature
    This can cause thermal damage to objects in its path. The blast wave can heat objects to high temperatures, causing them to melt or vaporize, and can also create rapid temperature changes that can cause objects to fracture or shatter.
  • It can generate strong winds
    The wind generated by the blast wave can create shear forces, bending moments, and other types of stresses that can cause structural damage to buildings and other objects.
What types of explosions create blast waves?

There are several types of explosions that can create blast waves including:

  • Chemical explosions caused by improper storage or handling of chemicals.
  • Gas explosions that occur when a buildup of flammable gas or vapor is ignited.
  • Dust explosions from a cloud of combustible dust that is ignited, causing a rapid and intense combustion reaction.
  • Munitions explosions

Regardless of the type of explosion, any rapid and intense release of energy can create a blast wave that can cause damage to structures and objects in its path. Understanding the basic characteristics of blast loads as well as the impact of blast duration and impulse, and the difference between incident (or side-on overpressure) and reflected pressure is important when choosing a blast damper.

You don’t get a second chance to choose the right blast damper.

Our experienced engineers can help you understand how blast pressure loads and blast waves impact choosing the right blast damper.

Ask us how our blast dampers are designed to protect equipment and personnel.

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