Petrochemical companies are being made increasingly aware of the requirement to provide higher and higher safety standards on offshore oil installations. Since they are dealing with highly flammable substances, design must take account of the risk of explosion - for example: gases and vapours could leak within modules and be ignited by electrical equipment. Modules are therefore being redesigned to provide 'sacrificial walls' which, if there is an explosion, will blow out in a direction least hostile to personnel and equipment.
The amount of damage caused to other walls and equipment within a module will be dependent upon the peak overpressure during an explosion; TWI is helping to provide data to assess this overpressure. The Structural Integrity Department fracture laboratory testing machines are being used to determine failure mechanisms and permissible loads on corrugated weather-sheeting fixtures. Information produced from the study will be used to design sacrificial walls so that they will withstand maximum expected wind loadings but will collapse if there is an explosion.