Examining Computational Techniques to Simulate the Effects of External Chemical Explosions Using Explicit Finite Element Analysis

by Phillip E. Prueter, P.E. / July 2012


Understanding the dynamic response of structures such as storage tanks or pressure vessels due to external chemical explosions is a critical aspect in determining the possible damage resulting from such an event. Furthermore, accurately simulating the overpressure or shock wave associated with a given explosion is equally important in order to achieve accurate results. Assessing the possible damage from an overpressure wave can provide valuable information about protecting structures from external explosions and improving designs. Such analyses become all the more important should the contents of the tank or vessel pose a risk to humans or the surrounding environment. This paper examines multiple computational techniques for simulating the load acting on a structure due to an external blast. In the past, blast parameters such as overpressure amplitude, spatial decay, arrival time, and blast duration had to be defined by the user. Recent development of more advanced computational tools, such as the CONWEP charge property in Abaqus, provides a means to accurately simulate blast loading on a structure, including reflection effects, without having to model the acoustic medium. The explicit computational methods discussed herein provide predictions of blast parameters and permit realistic evaluations of structures due to external explosions.


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