Introducing higher strength steels to improve safety of blast barriers on offshore platforms

Blast panels are integral structures in offshore topside modules to protect personnel and safety critical equipment by preventing the escalation of events due to hydrocarbon explosions. As such, blast panels are expected to retain their integrity against any blast loading and subsequent hydrocarbon fire.

Most of the blast panels currently installed in offshore structures have been designed using simplified calculation approaches such as the Single Degree of Freedom (SDOF) models, as recommended by offshore design codes and industry practices. However, such a simplified approach may not yield an optimum design, since it ignores the influence of strain rate sensitivity and strain hardening.

Recently, OCAS has performed Non-Linear Finite Element Analysis (NLFEA) to simulate the structural response of corrugated panels subjected to blast loading. To optimize the blast wall design, different geometries of corrugated panels were simulated and compared. The analyses indicate that –for a given confinement on an offshore platform topside- introducing higher strength steels can provide additional design flexibility. Indeed, thanks to their higher strength and ample strain capacity, high strength steels provide a means of reducing the wall thickness and hence the total weight of a corrugated blast panel, whilst ensuring the structural integrity.

OCAS will present the results of the design optimisation for high strength blast panels during the upcoming International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering (OMAE2018).

“Our 3D Non Linear Finite Element Analysis shows the merits of introducing higher strength steels for the safe and reliable design of blast panels on offshore platforms”

John Vande Voorde, Senior Research Engineer, Applications & Solutions department, OCAS