Behaviour of cylindrical steel drums under blast loading conditions

Anqi Chen, Luke A. Louca, Ahmed Y. Elghazouli

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The Buncefield incident in the UK in 2005 involved an explosion of 240,000 m3 of vapour cloud which resulted in considerable damage to properties in the surrounding area. A number of objects that can be used as overpressure indicators such as standard steel drums were located at various points around the site. These were found deformed to different levels after the explosion. These overpressure sensitive objects were used to assess the overpressure level at the locations of the objects during the incident. This study describes full scale validation tests and numerical simulations of far-field air blast loading acting on deformable steel drums in order to investigate possible forensic methods to aid the incident investigation. Subsequently, a number of numerical models are developed in order to simulate the tests. Two models with varying complexity are used in the simulations: uncoupled Eulerian-Lagrangian model and coupled Eulerian-Lagrangian approaches. These models are validated against the test data from gas detonation explosion. Comparison between the numerical and experimental results suggests that both approaches tend to over-predict the deformation of drums due to identified inaccuracies from test measurements and numerical methods. However, both methods can comparatively capture the different levels of damage arising from blast loads with various intensities. These comparative levels are in general agreement with observations from test data. Parametric studies using the validated techniques are also carried out to further examine the response of steel drums. The results are summarised in the form of pressure-impulse diagrams, and typical residual shapes of drum models are selected to complement the pressure-impulse diagrams. The methods and results presented in this paper offer a very useful tool which could be employed to aid forensic investigations of future explosion incidents involving steel drums or similar field objects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-53
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Impact Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


  • Blast tests
  • Buncefield incident
  • Dynamic response
  • Numerical simulation
  • Vapour cloud explosions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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