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Package Boiler Explosion

A delayed ignition explosion inside a gas-fired package firetube boiler blew open the front doors, which struck and killed a boiler operator.

During startup, a delayed ignition explosion occurred inside the fire tubes of a gas-fired package boiler at a electric utility company’s service facility. The boiler’s front doors blew open, striking and killing a boiler operator. Intertek was retained by the utility company to determine the origin and cause of the explosion. The boiler and its combustion control system were inspected and the boiler’s operation procedures were reviewed.

After discovering small metal beads in a gas piping drip leg, we arranged to X-ray the main gas valve. The radiograph film revealed that some of the beads were embedded on the seat of the valve plug. This prevented the valve from completely shutting off the gas to the burner, and allowed raw gas to flow through the burner spuds and into the fire tubes. The gas mixed with air, and the mixture exploded when it was ignited by the burner’s spark igniter during the startup.

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