Countering Catastrophe: New Solutions for Managing and Preventing Silo Explosions


The world was shocked by a catastrophic silo explosion in a Savannah, Georgia sugar plant in 2008. Preventing such events from happening again begins with an increased understanding about how dust explosions occur and what practices should be part of an overall strategy for reducing the opportunity for them to occur and mitigating the damage they cause if they do. An important component of managing and preventing silo explosions is the storage structure itself. This paper provides an introduction to how dust explosions occur in bulk-storage environments, helping readers understand the difference between deflagrations and detonations, and pointing out some indirect causes of ignition, such as self-heating product. It also highlights some benefits the Domesilo offers over traditional storage solutions as part of a comprehensive strategy for explosion prevention. This paper was written to a professional, non-technical audience.

Paper Topics

  • Historical Silo Explosions
  • The Fire Triangle
  • Self-Heating Product
  • Deflagration vs. Detonation
  • Inadequacies of Traditional Structures
  • Domesilo Benefits
  • Explosion Prevention Strategy

About the Author

This paper was written after extensive interviews with multiple experts on the topic of silo explosions fueled by combustible dust. One of the primary sources for this paper was Adam Aagard, P.E. Adam is an engineer and project manager at Engineering System Solutions (ES2), a bulk material handling and storage engineering firm. He has spoken in conferences on the topic of explosion prevention and has contributed to landmark industrial projects, including the Drax Power Station in the UK. He received his M.S., Structural Engineering from BYU.