Explosions as a result of water/molten metal contact are well known accidents in the metallurgical industry that sometimes have significant human and material consequences. Following the reception of aluminum turning at our sister Cie Sotrem, in which we found a plastic cleaner container, it seems essential to remind us of this important safety rule. 

Water and molten metal contact can cause vapour explosions, a purely physical phenomenon resulting from the vaporization of water, with projections of liquid metal and volume expansion creating a pressure wave; in the open air, the water/steam transformation causes a volume increase of a factor of 1700.

The circumstances of these explosions are found in all phases of production: during melting in the furnace, following the casting of the metal, during the discharge of the drosses and finally during the manipulation of hot metal. The prevention of such events therefore requires a fine risk analysis of each phase of operation.

The human consequences are sometimes dramatic; death or injured employees result. Beyond the heavy human loss, material damage as well as operating losses can be significant and the rehabilitation of facilities leads to several weeks of technical unemployment. The setting up of containment enclosures to protect operators, the wearing of appropriate personal protective equipment and the limitation to the strictest necessary number of people present in risk areas are some measures likely to limit the consequences of accidents.

Violent reaction with sometimes dramatic consequences, the "water/metal explosions" deserve special attention and this, as soon as primary metal or scrap is aimed to be remelted. Compliance with safety rules, checking equipment before remelting are essential conditions to limit the occurrence of such accidents. The appropriation of the preventive measures by all the people likely to be involved with the metal such as suppliers, carriers and operators conditions the prevention of these risks.