Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Water pressure = dynamite

  1. Mar 17, 2013 #1
    Washington Post quotes water transmission lines
    "highly pressurized pipes that can explode with the force of 200 tons of dynamite"
    have they dropped a decimal point here???
    Thats a lot of dynamite!

    It's been years since I've tried such calculations and now couldn't even try...
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 17, 2013 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Journalists and numbers don't mix well, in my experience. That's why they became journalists in the first place.
  4. Mar 17, 2013 #3
    What is the context of the "pressurized pipes"?
  5. Mar 18, 2013 #4
    Carrying drinking water: up to about 77" diameter. Buried, usually beneath streets and sometimes in tunnels in soil or in rock up to some 150' deep. Mostly reinforce4d concrete: rarely steel. Pumped to water-towers and distribution.
  6. Mar 18, 2013 #5


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    There is a video of a Russian hydro facility that was devastated by exploding pipes because the operator mismanaged the water flow to the turbines. The damage did not seem that far out of line with hundreds of tons of dynamite. See:
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  7. Mar 18, 2013 #6


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    It would surprise me if aqueducts operated at anywhere close to the pressure of a hydro plant, but even if they did, it would be tough to characterize the rupture as an "explosion". More like a flash flood.
  8. Mar 18, 2013 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I once actually heard an explosion estimated at about 15 tons of TNT = 12 tons of dynamite. I was 20 miles away from where it happened and working underneath my car at the time. The bang was lound enough that people came out of the house, thinking the car had fallen off the ramp on top of me or something similar.

    I don't think a failed dam would come anywhere near that sort of "explision", let alone 200 tons.

  9. Mar 18, 2013 #8
    Do you happen to have any pump information? From the info you've given me we can only determine the hydrostatic portion. If you had the power output we would have a rough estimate of the operating pressure.
  10. Mar 19, 2013 #9
    Thanks...but this is a quote from a facilities report...later quoted in the Washington Post...which I suspect is overblown (?) to excite the populace and politicians to require a setback from the pipes. I suspect a setback from a two hundred ton explosion would be unnecessarily costly.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook