Tanker Explosion

Now that we have every detail required, we can now go into more detailed analysis of the tanker explosion.

As per MSDS, diesel fuel is not a flammable material. The ambient temperature of about 28 - 35 deg C is much lower than the flash point of diesel which is 63 deg C. So auto-ignition will not occur. Therefore with the above, diesel is not the cause of the explosion.

Human factor. As we don't have any data on this, we can actually speculate based on the MSDS of diesel. Was the proper handing and transfer and transfer procedure followed during the transfer of diesel? Let us assume yes.

For the source of ignition, let us assume that there has been to open fire within the vicinity of the tanker. So what is the source of ignition. I could say that it might have been Electrostatic Discharge. Why? At this time of the year, where dry weather is common, electrostatic charge accumulation is common.

Was the tanker ground wire or earth wire properly connected before discharging of diesel was started? I could say no, else there could have been no electrostatic discharge.

However, even if there is an electrostatic discharge, diesel could have not been ignited easily as it is not a flammable liquid. What then is the cause of the explosion?

There may be several possibilities to this.

  1. Explosive gas was not caused by the diesel from the tanker. As the tanker is beside the gasoline station, explosive gas may have originated from one of the dispensing stations.
  2. Tankers are sometimes being used for other materials. It may have been that the explosive gas was caused by some residual flammable materials from the tanker.

Since we don't have the exact data from the explosion, all we can do is speculate on the causes of the tanker explosion.

About the Author

Ver Pangonilo
A Filipino Engineer, Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland (RPEQ) - Australia and Professional Electrical Engineer (PEE) - Philippines with extensive experience in concept select, front-end engineering, HV & LV detail design, construction and commissioning of Hazardous and Non-Hazardous Area electrical installations in water and waste water pipeline and pumping facilities, offshore platforms, hydrocarbon process plants and pipelines including related facilities. Hazardous area classification and design certification (UEENEEM015B, UEENEEM016B, UEENEEM017B).
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