The term Overpressure (Δp) is applied to a pressure difference, relative to a "normal" or "ambient" pressure, in various circumstances:
- In engineering: the pressure difference over the wall thickness of a pressure vessel. It is the overpressure, not the absolute pressure, which causes mechanical yield and, if the overpressure exceeds the vessel's capacity, ultimately the failure of the vessel.
- In geology: the pressure regime in a stratigraphic unit that exhibits higher-than-hydrostatic pressure in its pore structure. This phenomenon is the primary cause of "oil gushers". This is described below.
- In military terminology, the pressure caused by a shock wave over and above normal atmospheric pressure. The shock wave may be caused by sonic boom or by explosion, and the resulting overpressure receives particular attention when measuring the effects of nuclear weapons or thermobaric bombs.
According to an article in the journal Toxicological Sciences,
"Blast overpressure (BOP), also known as high energy impulse noise, is a damaging outcome of explosive detonations and firing of weapons. Exposure to BOP shock waves alone results in injury predominantly to the hollow organ systems such as auditory, respiratory, and gastrointestinal systems."
An article on dvice.com (including an interview with a ballistics engineer) describes how an EOD suit worn by bomb-disposal experts protects against the deadly effects of BOP.
Overpressure calculation (explosive)
Overpressure is determined using "Wiebull's formula":
- 2410 is a constant based on 1 bar (100 kPa; 15 psi)
- = net explosive mass calculated using all explosive materials and their relative effectiveness
- = volume of given area (primarily used to determine volume within an enclosed space)
Pressure Effects 10 pounds per square inch (69 kPa)
- Reinforced concrete buildings severely damaged
- Severe heart and lung damage
- Limbs can be blown off
4 pounds per square inch (28 kPa)
- Most buildings collapse except concrete buildings
- Injuries universal
- Fatalities occur
2 pounds per square inch (14 kPa)
- Residential structures collapse
- Brick walls destroyed
- Injuries common
- Fatalities may occur
Geological overpressure in stratigraphic layers is caused by the inability of connate pore fluids to escape as the surrounding mineral matrix compacts under the lithostatic pressure caused by overlying layers. Fluid escape may be impeded by sealing of the compacting rock by surrounding impermeable layers (such as evaporites, chalk and cemented sandstones). Alternatively, the rate of burial of the stratigraphic layer may be so great that the efflux of fluid is not sufficiently rapid to maintain hydrostatic pressure.
Common situations where overpressure may occur: in a buried river channel filled with coarse sand that is sealed on all sides by impermeable shales, or when there is an explosion within a confined space.
It is extremely important to be able to diagnose overpressured units when drilling through them, as the drilling mud weight (density) must be adjusted to compensate. If it is not, there is a risk that the pressure difference down-well will cause a dramatic decompression of the overpressured layer and result in a blowout at the well-head with possibly disastrous consequences.
Because overpressured sediments tend to exhibit better porosity than would be predicted from their depth, they often make attractive hydrocarbon reservoirs and are therefore of important economic interest.
- ^ "Pulmonary Biochemical and Histological Alterations after Repeated Low-Level Blast Overpressure Exposures", Nabil M. Elsayed, and Nikolai V. Gorbunov, Toxicological Sciences, 2007 95(1):289-296 , online version 2006, http://toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/95/1/289
- ^ "Real-life Hurt Locker: how bomb-proof suits work ", John Pavlus, 03/04/10, http://dvice.com/archives/2010/03/hurt-locker-sui.php
- ^ http://www.freepatentsonline.com/4474052.html
- ^ (documentary film) Fool Me Twice. Event occurs at 1h 6m. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6082227073823787984. Retrieved 2007-12-26.
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