SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1995

Case Study of an Oxygen-Acetylene Cutting Torch Failure and Measured Overpressures Due to Flashback Reactions


A generalized case study of the failure of an oxygen-acetylene cutting torch is presented with discussion of the failure and investigation. The theory that an oxygen-acetylene flashback reaction caused the explosive failure of the torch mixing tube was investigated. The investigation led to the conclusion that abusive treatment of the torch was the primary cause of the failure. The mechanical strength of the cutting torch was determined and the dynamic overpressures due to oxygen-acetylene flashback reactions were measured by means of fast-response piezoelectric pressure transducers. The dynamic pressure measurements were compared and related to predictions of the NASA Gordon and McBride “Computer Program for Calculations of Complex Chemical Equilibrium Compositions, Rocket Performance, Incident and Reflected Shocks, and Chapman-Jouquet Detonations” for oxygen-acetylene combustion. Based on this investigation, a reconstruction of the accident is proposed.

Author Information

Newton, BE
Wendell Hull & Associates, Las Cruces, NM
Porter, AR
NASA-WSTF Laboratories Office, Las Cruces, NM
Hull, WC
Wendell Hull & Associates, Las Cruces, NM
Henry, SH
Stanford H. Henry & Associates, Safety Consultants, Spring, TX
Anderson, DS
Ward, Anderson & Porritt, Bloomfield Hill, MI
Randall, LN
Wendell Hull & Associates, Las Cruces, NM
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Developed by Committee: G04
Pages: 243–266
DOI: 10.1520/STP16440S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5314-1
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-2004-4