Title: Forensic engineering applied to the analysis of a gas explosion in a residential building

Authors: Luca Fiorentini; Luca Marmo; Norberto Piccinini

Addresses: TECSA S.r.l, Via Figino, 101, 20016 Pero (Milan), Italy ' Applied Science and Technology Department, Politecnico di Torino, Corso Duca degli Abruzzi, 24, 10129 Torino, Italy ' Chemical Engineering and Materials Department, Politecnico di Torino, Corso Duca degli Abruzzi, 24, 10129 Torino, Italy

Abstract: Present paper deals with the identification of the cause of an explosion in a hollow space positioned below a residential building as the result of welding operations. On field investigation clearly demonstrated that the explosion was due to the ignition of a flammable atmosphere in the basement of the building. Along the trial two hypotheses were brought to the judge: (a) explosion of an air-petrol mixture (b) explosion of an air-LPG mixture. Forensic engineering techniques have been applied in order to assess which hypothesis was the correct one, on the basis of the observed post-accident scene. Modelling of the vapour diffusion, the natural ventilation and the permeation of LPG through the soil showed that possibility (b) was by far the most likely.

Keywords: gas explosion; residential buildings; NFPA 921; scientific method; forensic engineering; welding operations; modelling; vapour diffusion; natural ventilation; LPG permeation; liquefied petroleum gas; air-LPG mixture.

DOI: 10.1504/IJFE.2014.066317

International Journal of Forensic Engineering, 2014 Vol.2 No.2, pp.152 - 164

Received: 05 Jun 2014
Accepted: 05 Nov 2014

Published online: 30 Apr 2015 *

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