Facility Internal Explosions

ACTA performs blast and fireball analyses to determine the effects of an internal explosion during the processing of a hazardous material.  These analyses determine the size of the explosion and/or fireball, the shock/gas pressure and thermal loading, primary and secondary fragment lists, as well as compute nonlinear structural response and thermal flux patterns. 

We use state-of-the art software tools such as BlastX, LS-DYNA and DebrisHAZ to perform detailed analyses, the results of which are used by NASA, the Air Force, the Army and FAA to make decisions regarding site plans for explosives and insure the safety of personnel and facility assets.

See also: Petrochemical Fire and Explosion Hazard

Rocket Failure

Range safety analyses require estimation of the effects of pre-launch and in-flight explosions that can generate air blast, inert debris from missile failure or command destruct action and explosive fragments from solid rocket motor ground impact. These blast and fragment hazards can affect people in the open, people sheltered in buildings and critical assets.

We develop consequence models to predict damage to a range of building and construction types and the impact to occupants. These models are used by the Air Force, NASA, Navy, Army and DDESB in their range and ground safety software to make launch day go/no-go decisions.

Weapon Fragmentation

ACTA has an extensive background in evaluating the effects of fragments and debris throw resulting from external or internal building explosions. Explosions generate primary fragments and secondary debris that could strike a receptor such as a building. The entire process can be visualized in 3D to enable the interpretation of results. We use a library of physics-based tools to:​

  • Calculate explosion energy

  • Predict weapon breakup and velocities imparted to primary fragments

  • Generate blast and primary fragment loads on a receptor

  • Estimate structural response and penetration of a receptor by primary fragments

  • Generate secondary debris due to receptor breakup

Non-lethal Weapons

We developed a non-lethal weapon (NLW) software application that allows a user to assess the exposure and effects on crowds. The software architecture is structured modularly to accept:

  • Physical characteristics of different weapon types

  • Simple or complex crowd configurations

  • Physics-based or fast-running models of weapon delivery systems and crowd exposure

  • Human vulnerability models


The graphical user interface (GUI) assists the user to make assessments.  Results are presented in tabular and report form and 3D visualizations are provided.

Terrorist Bombings

ACTA developed tools to perform detailed evaluations of buildings exposed to air blast and fragmentation resulting from the detonation of a terrorist bomb.  The tools predict blast and fragment loading and determine the level of damage to walls and roofs and the breakage of windows. The location and size of the terrorist bomb can be modified to perform “what-if” damage scenarios. The construction of the walls, roof and windows is easily modified to evaluate different mitigation schemes.

We perform terrorist blast analyses for the Air Force, Navy, Army and commercial clients such as refineries, airports, building owners and schools

Pipeline Explosions

The California Department of Education (CDE) established standards and explosion regulations for approving proposed sites for new schools.  School districts are required to identify the proximity of all high-pressure gas pipelines within 1500 feet of a proposed site, in which case a pipeline risk analysis must be performed.  Stage 1 is a screening to determine whether a site meets pre-defined risk criteria.  If a site does not meet Stage 1 requirements, a more complex site-specific Stage 2 or Stage 3 analysis is required to assess the risks due to explosions and fires.

Our GIS-based tool automates the required risk analyses.  We and  have used it to perform numerous risk assessments.

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