Monday, February 11, 2008

Sugar Refinery Update

Sadly 6 employees of the Sugar Refinery that exploded yesterday were confirmed killed by the explosion. 2 are still missing and scores of others are badly injured.

They (investigators) suspect the explosion was set off by two factors:
-The sugar dust in the silos became to dry
-There was some kind of electrical charge (Possibly Static)

I've tried to do a little more reading on the subject today, and as Gary Allen was so kind to point out in response to the original post:

"Sugar is a fuel (remember that it contains 4 calories per gram... calories are a measure of stored energy). Any fuel, when mixed with the right amount of oxygen, can explode. Dust explosions, especially in flour mills, are an ever-present danger.

Conversely, if the oxygen/fuel ratio is not right, the fuel will just burn without exploding. That's why you can set liquid gasoline on fire -- but if there are gas fumes, lighting a match gets everyone's attention in a flash."

Im thumbing through that Sugar Refinery Manual I posted before just to try to get more info on the subject.

My heart goes out to the families effected by the tragedy.


Scotty said...

See, if you grew up in the 60 - 70's you'd know that if you mix sugar and saltpeter in equal amounts, it makes a nifty fuel for a smoke bomb!

Stop over my place for my take on the fire!

ntsc said...

An explosion is essentially nothing other than rabid combustion which in tern is dependent on the surface area (and proper mix of the atmosphere to combust in).

If an item will burn in air, odds are it's dust can explode. Grist mills and grain elevators worry about flour explosions, printing plants worry about paper dust, coal dust has been known to explode. And static electricity is quite able to ignite the explosion.

ntsc said...

That should be rapid not rabid, but I think the point still gets across.

Scotty said...

I actually like the imagery of rabid.

The Foodist said...

I was going to say, Rabid and Rapid really arent that far off in a descriptive sense when it comes to this subject.