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published on

June 2023

30 years of Explosion Research with the ERC

For the past three decades, the Explosion Research Cooperative (ERC) has been at the forefront of research and proven methodologies to mitigate explosion hazards and consequences. As we celebrate its remarkable 30-year journey, we are sharing some invaluable contributions made by this international joint-industry program to enhance industry’s understanding of explosions, how to prevent accidents and mitigate consequences, and potentially save lives.

Enhancing Safety Through Collaboration

Founded in 1993, the ERC’s primary goal was, and still is, to conduct research aimed at solving problems common throughout chemical processing industries and sharing the results, benefits, and costs among all participating companies. ERC research projects allow for better understanding of causes and effects of explosions (accidents), development of effective safety measures to help prevent explosions, mitigate consequences, refine and tailor process safety considerations and methodologies for members, and improved designs of blast-resistant structures.


Test stand for window catch system designed for ERC 1993 research project.

First ERC project in 1993 using BakerRisk’s first shock tube to test window catch system.

On their own, most organizations are not able to conduct full-scale or costly, complex, and hazardous research at the scale that the ERC can, due in large part to limitations with funding, equipment, expertise, and other resources. So, whereas one single member company cannot take on the responsibility and cost of performing certain necessary research, through the ERC, multiple companies can all benefit from one research project. Additionally, ERC members enjoy added benefits of this joint-industry program, such as the opportunity to collaborate with industry colleagues, discuss shared timely challenges, and the opportunity for one-on-one guidance from BakerRisk experts. Click below to hear why David Kelly of ExxonMobil enthusiastically enjoys the benefits of being an ERC member.

Unparalleled Value from an Unparalleled Research Program

Through the support of the ERC, BakerRisk continues to help advance methodologies and tools across the industry to protect people, organizations, and assets. Some key achievements of the ERC include:

  1. Advancement of Research: The ERC has pioneered groundbreaking research in cause and effects of accidental explosions, studying various aspects such as reactivity, blast waves, and the behavior of explosions. This knowledge has been instrumental in designing safer industrial processes, understanding better building designs, refining safety standards, and creating effective emergency response protocols.
  2. Innovative Technologies: The ERC has been able to implement software such as the Building Evaluation and Screening Tool (BEAST), which was developed as a screening level database of building response models for standard buildings types.
  3. Knowledge Sharing: The ERC holds biannual meetings where BakerRisk consultants and engineers present results from funded research topics to provide an open forum for members to better understand how the research results translate to the circumstances and needs of their facilities, and to connect with peers in the industry to better understand shared issues and areas of concern.
  4. Collaborative Partnerships: The ERC’s success can be attributed to its strong partnerships with industry leading organizations. By fostering collaboration and information exchange, the ERC has facilitated the integration of diverse perspectives and expertise, resulting in comprehensive research outcomes and practical solutions that benefit all stakeholders.

The Future of the ERC

These 30 years of unparalleled research stand as a testament to the power of collaboration and dedication for a safer world. However, the work of the ERC is far from over. With emerging industries, new technological challenges, and evolving threats, the ERC must continue to adapt. By addressing explosion risks in sectors such as renewable energy, the ERC can contribute to the safe and sustainable growth of the energy and chemical industries.

The Explosion Research Cooperation’s 30-year anniversary is a momentous occasion to acknowledge its invaluable contributions to the field of explosion research, safety, and innovation. Through its collaborative efforts, the ERC has enhanced our understanding of explosions, pioneered groundbreaking technologies, and fostered a safety-conscious mindset across industries.

As we look toward the future, the ERC’s commitment to excellence and its collaborative spirit will undoubtedly continue to drive the advancement of explosion safety, preventing disasters, and ensuring the well-being of workers and communities worldwide.

Learn more about the ERC, and contact us to inquire about joining!