Ask 5 questions before choosing a blast-resistant module

1. Was the blast-resistant module designed and tested by a blast expert?


The science of blast-resistant module (BRM) design is still considered new, and only a small group of experts have tested their designs. Make sure your BRM design has been taken off the drawing board and successfully blast-tested in the field, under the supervision of a well-credentialed engineer.


2. Are blast test reports specific and conclusive?

There are many interpretations of the term blast-tested, but a successfully blast-tested building has the proven ability to actually save lives. Pay special attention to PSI ratings when you review blast test reports, because different applications call for different specification. A laboratory BRM placed next to a blowdown stack should carry a higher rating, such as 8 PSI, while a guard shack placed at the perimeter of your facility may only need a rating of 3 to 5 PSI.


3. Was the BRM blast tested for non-structural / structural components?

If a structure survives a blast, but its interior walls, lights or other fixtures create shrapnel, the risk of casualties is still high. Always ask BRM vendors to provide data and rationale for non-structural items, including wall and ceiling finishes, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, cabinets, placement of open shelving (should be no higher than 100cm above the floor) and placement of any intake points (should be less than 90cm above ground level).

4. Can the following information be provided?

  • Was the BRM tested dynamically rather than statically?
  • Was the BRM tested in a free field environment?
  • Was a P-I (pressure-impulse) curve generated to show the BRM’s response over a wide range of blast loading?

These items are too technical to cover in the context of this email, but should be on your list of discussions to initiate with any BRM vendor.

5. Does the BRM’s response level demonstrate its capability to save lives?

As mentioned in question 2, interpretation of ratings is everything. A BRM vendor can claim its product has been blast tested (and maybe it has), but if closer examination of test data demonstrates a high-response result, this is not the BRM you want protecting your personnel. Response level ratings have been established by the American Society of Civil Engineers to predict the extent of repair resources needed after an explosion. Here’s the key: high response equals high damage, so it’s crucial to study the response level table, then take a very close look at any BRM’s response rating for a given PSI (as proved through actual blast testing). Find out more about response levels…

Understanding Blast Protection

Even though blast-resistant modular buildings design and engineering advances, there are still gaps related to certification, regulation and blast testing guidelines. Find out more about best industry practices and options available to protect people and assets from blast in oil, gas and petrochemical plants in our latest Technical Article published in Hydrocarbon Engineering magazine. Find out more.