Document Type



Master of Science


Civil Engineering

First Adviser

Naito, Clay J.


Nearly half a million miles of pipeline transport hazardous fluids around the United States. The potential for the release of flammable fluids poses a momentous hazard for the surrounding areas. Of particular concern to our built infrastructure is the accidental leakage and detonation of natural gas pipelines. Two Natural Gas (NG) leakage accidents are examined in detail. This includes the 2011 explosion in Allentown, PA and the 2014 explosion in Harlem, New York. The study consisted of prediction of the incident pressure generated by the NG explosion which can be used to create appropriate safety guidelines and suitable structural design. Two widely used methods: (1) the TNO method and (2) the Baker-Strehlow-Tang method are utilized to predict the overpressure generated by the NG vapor cloud explosion (VCE). The observed damage to surrounding buildings is correlated with known window breakage strengths and is used to verify the accuracy of the computed overpressure from these methods for the two case studies. The resulting overpressure values are further verified using the distances that debris was thrown from the explosion site. The Modified Bernoulli Equation (MBE) is utilized for this calculation. The methods are shown to provide an accurate estimate of the initial detonation energy. Utilizing this approach, the effect of doubling the explosion energy of VCE on the surrounding buildings in Allentown and Harlem is examined. This increase results in a 67% and 64% increase to severe damage to brick buildings and a 66% and 44% increase in the region over which window damage is likely to occur, respectively.