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Guide to Blast-Resistant Design

Many types of structures need to be built with a strategy for mitigating explosive blast-related damage. Depending on the situation, a building’s exterior or interior may be more at risk of damage due to blast-induced threats and require specialized design. As a modular building design innovator, Module X Solutions develops secure, protective designs for the world’s most severe and challenging threats. In this blog post, we will identify blast-resistant design characteristics and discuss their benefits and applications.

What Is Blast-Resistant Design?

Calumet Superior, WI BRM option 2A blast-resistant design incorporates damage mitigation strategies into a structure, with the aim of protecting people and equipment in the event of an accidental or intentional explosion. Blast-resistant design begins at a structure’s concept stage and, after careful modeling, material selection, and other steps, delivers an architecturally appealing structure with improved blast resistance.

Blast-resistant building design considers criteria such as:

  • Strategies to mitigate risk and isolate the blast, as well as the best types of engineering materials
  • How certain materials behave under blast overpressure and excessive loading
  • The functionality and safety of the structure after an explosion

Additionally, blast-resistant building designs must be developed with consideration for certain regulations and guidelines. For example, while there is no global standard for blast-resistant structures, there are recommended best practices. The American Petroleum Institute (API) provides several guidelines, such as API 752 and API 753. The American Society of Civil Engineers also provides guidance for blast-resistant designs (ASCE 41088).

Also referred to as Blast Resistant Modules, a blast-resistant building is a reinforced structure specially designed to reduce harm to the personnel and equipment it contains in the event of an explosion. These structures are particularly common within petrochemical plants, chemical processing, and manufacturing facilities, as well as defense sites and oil refineries.

 

What Are the Benefits and Applications of Blast-Resistant Design?

A typical building design does not factor potential blast impacts into its development. In general structures, if an explosion were to occur, the blast could produce a greater overload than the structure was designed to withstand. This can lead to fatalities, severe building damage, significant adverse health effects, and many other negative consequences.

In comparison, blast-resistant design provides numerous benefits, including:

  • Physical assets including staff and equipment are protected in case of a catastrophic event.
  • A company’s liability is reduced due to the measures it took in advance to keep the workplace safe.
  • Lost time spent retrieving tools or other equipment is reduced.
  • Time spent exposed to hazards is reduced.
  • Modular buildings offer flexibility to add additional sections or stack to save space.
  • Modular blast-resistant designs provide mobility to be moved after the structure has been placed.
  • Structures can be built off-site and transferred to the final location for assembly.

Blast-resistant modules provide security and protection for a large number of highly versatile applications, including:

  • Ops shelters
  • Control rooms
  • Guard shacks and security buildings
  • Changing rooms and restrooms
  • Lunchrooms and break rooms
  • Permit buildings
  • Labs with fume hoods
  • Water labs
  • Process buildings

Blast-Resistant Design Solutions from Module X Solutions

Module X Solutions provides improved blast-resistant building design using proprietary technology. The X-Gap Deformation Barrier engineered solution is the most protective and safe design available in the marketplace. X-Gap prevents furniture, equipment, and other objects inside a structure from becoming projectiles in the event of an explosion.
The Module X Solutions standard for projectiles can be applied to any building we manufacture. We can also provide new projectile engineering to meet even the most challenging design requirements. As an industry leader in protective shelter design, Module X Solutions meets or exceeds all relevant design parameters, including:

  • ASCE 2010 2nd Edition Design of Blast Resistant Buildings in Petrochemical Facilities
  • API RP-752/753
  • NFPA 70 – NEC
  • NFPA 496 – Electrical Classification
  • IBC 2021

Gain Superior Protection With Custom Blast-Resistant Modules

There are many situations where a structure encounters the threat of a potential blast, either from inside or outside the building. Developing solutions for the unique criteria of each site is critical in protecting human life as well as expensive equipment in these situations. Good blast-resistant design incorporates projectile engineering and results in a modifiable, versatile structure with strong protection capabilities in the event of a catastrophic event.

Module X Solutions is a leader in blast-resistant design and develops customized solutions from our 700,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility. We serve an extensive selection of demanding industries, providing structurally superior protective products. To learn more, contact us today, or get started on your solution by requesting a quote.

An Intro to API RP-752 and API RP-753

There are no federal laws regulating what measures a facility needs to take to maintain a protected environment in the event of an explosion. However, the American Petroleum Institute (API) has established recommended practices (RP) that serve as guidelines on, among other topics, how to manage hazards associated with blast events. The two standards pertaining to blast-resistant buildings are API RP-752 and API RP-753. 

The following article goes into more detail on API RP-752 and API RP-753. It outlines what they cover, how they differ, and how they discuss vapor cloud explosions (VCEs).

Technicians supervisor looking out onto an oil refinery at sunset with pipes and steel 3d render

What Are API RP-752 and API RP-753?

Established in 1919, the American Petroleum Institute is a trade association that represents all facets of the natural gas and oil industry. They promote safety and weigh in on public policy within the United States. Among their vast collection of RPs are API RP-752 and API RP-753. These standards outline procedures for permanent and portable buildings that focus on ensuring personnel are as safe as reasonably possible from fires, explosions, and the potential release of toxic hazards.

  • API RP-752 was first released in 1995. It covers how to manage hazards associated with permanent structures in fixed locations. It was originally developed for use at natural gas liquids extraction and liquefaction plants, petrochemical and chemical plants, refineries, and other onshore facilities covered by the OSHA Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals, 29 CFR 1910.119.
  • API RP-753 was first released in 2007. It covers how to manage hazards associated with portable buildings that are conventionally not constructed for blast or fire resistance.  

Some of the topics covered within these standards include:

  • Personnel regulations: Personnel should be located away covered process areas when possible.
  • Occupied buildings: Buildings are considered occupied if they have assigned personnel or regularly have personnel come to them. They should be designed, constructed, installed, and maintained to protect occupants against possible hazards. Additionally, the use of occupied buildings close to covered process areas should be minimized, especially during periods of increased risk (e.g., unit start-up or planned shutdown operations).
  • Existing buildings: Existing buildings that fail to meet the criteria should have a proper mitigation plan documented and implemented for any issues uncovered during an evaluation for as long as they are in use.

How Are API RP-752 and API RP-753 Different?

Gas pipeline leaks at the joints with the valve. Spark and Fire on the gas pipeline. An explosion at the gas pipeline.

API RP-752 and API RP-752 are highly similar. They are both meant to protect personnel against the same potential hazards—i.e., explosions, fires, and toxic contamination. The key difference between them is the type of building they cover. API RP-752 focuses on permanent buildings, while API RP-753 focuses on portable buildings. 

How Do API RP-752 and API RP-753 Cover VCE?

One of the main explosive scenarios covered in API RP-752 and API RP-752 is vapor cloud explosion (VCEs). VCEs occur when the following conditions are met: 

  1. A flammable material is released.
  2. The material forms a flammable cloud by mixing with air.
  3. The cloud continues to grow.
  4. The cloud reaches a source of ignition, such as an open flame.
  5. The flames are accelerated by congestion.

Any building that carries the possibility or likelihood of encountering a VCE scenario should have its blast load calculated. This value determines how it should respond. 

Schedule Your Facility Planning Consultation With Module X Solutions Today

While API RP-752 and API RP-753 provide general guidelines on how to keep personnel safe from explosions, fires, and toxic materials in permanent and portable buildings. Your facility siting info can assist to support and develop a more targeted approach. The results of the evaluation and requirements  can uncover any problem areas where personnel safety is at risk, allowing facility owners or operators to implement appropriate solutions before an accident can occur.  Module X Solutions can further assist in guiding and ensuring you’re on the right path by taking all factors into consideration for an optimal streamlined solution.

Interested in learning about an optimal building design? The experts at MXS are here to help! Equipped with extensive experience designing and manufacturing blast-resistant buildings, our engineering team has the knowledge and skills to properly assess a solution to meet and/and or exceed your unique site and facility requirements. Contact us or request a quote to get started.