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 recommended practices.

In this paper, the Non-Linear Finite Element Analysis (NLFEA) technique is used to simulate the structural response of corrugated panels subjected to blast loading. Detailed numerical analyses allow identifying the limits of the SDOF approach, and exploring different design options to optimize the structural response of corrugated blast panels.

The blast load profile corresponding to an explosion is one of the most important factors to consider in the structural analysis. The mechanism of hydrocarbon explosions is very complex, and the corresponding blast load profile intimately depends on the type of explosion, the congestion and the structural confinement. A sensitivity analysis is performed to investigate the influence of the blast pulse shape, and in particular to evaluate the effect of the maximum peak pressure and the exposure time.

To explore the benefits of introducing higher strength steels in demanding offshore applications, pressure-impulse diagrams have been derived for different high strength steel grades. In our analysis, (ultra)high strength cut-to-length plates from hot rolled coil are proposed to optimize the design of the blast panel whilst preserving the structural performance under demanding load conditions.

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