Trucker Robert LeDoux may be changing his pants after this incident at a grain silo the 397 exploded earlier today. LeDoux was at the elevator waiting to be unloaded. When grain is moved, dust is created. This airborne dust can be very volatile.
The flammability of grain dust is part of what is called the “Dust Explosion Pentagon”. According to Knobelsdorff Enterprises, this “pentagon” is the set of elements needed to cause a grain dust explosion.
There are five conditions that must be met to have a dust explosion, they are oxygen, heat, fuel, dispersion and containment. These five factors make up what is known as the Dust Explosion Pentagon.
The fuel is self explanatory, it is the dust in the air from moving grain. Heat comes from static electricity, hot machinery, or a spark from a moving metal part. As the grain is moved for a long period of time in drier weather, the dust does not settle and thus becomes suspended in the air in a cloud. This dust concentrates enough in a particular area, all it takes is a single spark to set it off, and boom. The first explosion is dangerous enough, but this explosion can then dislodge more dust in the area and set off a chain reaction igniting more dust which is kicked up by the shock of the initial explosion.
It doesn’t take a lot of “dust” in the air to become dangerous. The “minimum explosion concentration” is the measure of the number of particles in the air relative to the surface area it occupies. It can take as little as 0.0002 inch inside a 2 foot space to become flammable. A piece of paper measures 0.004 inch.
KPLC reports no injuries were reported by the sheriff’s office.