Forensic Engineer Determines Cause Of Gas Turbine Explosion


Forensic Engineering ExpertThis case involves a gas turbine explosion at a power plant in New Mexico that killed 2 workers. Further investigation of the turbine revealed that the compressor had suffered erosion damage causing changes in the blade profiles and airflow. The turbine in question was only a few years old and, according to the manufacturer, should not have suffered from abrasion so soon. It was alleged that the plant had been negligent in its maintenance of the turbine and caused undue degradation to the turbine. An expert in forensic engineering with experience in gas turbines and valve controllers was sought to inspect the turbine in question and determine if the plant was responsible for the explosion.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Do you have familiarity with gas turbine and/or digital valve controller engineering?

Expert Witness Response E-001087

I have 30+ years of experience in fuel gas combustion equipment including use of fuel gas control valves. I am a professional mechanical and controls engineer, registered in 8 states. I am a certified fire and explosion investigator and forensic engineer and I have testified in state and federal court. I have presented classes on fuel gas fires and explosions. This experience includes valves used for the control of natural gas flows. There may well be some problem with this part of the valve, however, there are many proper design provisions and safeguards to prevent explosions in fuel gas fired equipment. The system should have a comprehensive review of its combustion control / flame safeguard systems. There are a number of different types of valves (digital, pneumatic, electric) that I am very familiar with. I’ve used these controllers many times for various purposes and have spent time at a manufacturing plant working on combustion controls.

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