Forensic Investigation of a Pressure Vessel Explosion

A forensic investigation on a pressure vessel explosion which caused serious damage to the manufacturing plant. The vessels operate under extreme conditions to create crystals for use in devices including cell phones. Metallurgical testing and evaluations, as well as extensive finite element analysis was performed.

The same finite element model built for thermal analyses was also used for structural and stress analyses. The model was subjected to design and operating conditions, including cyclic operating pressure and temperature transients. Analyses were performed for the maximum design and operating pressures at design and ambient temperatures.

To simulate the startup process, the outer surface of the vessel was heated to the operating condition using thermal transient analysis. Following an operation cycle, the vessel is cooled down to ambient conditions. Proper thermal boundary conditions, including heat transfer coefficients were applied to all appropriate inner and outer surfaces of the vessel.


O’Donnell Consulting Performs Forensic Investigations on Heat Exchangers, Ductwork, Vessels and other Plant & Process Equipment.


(412) 835-5007

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