Optimizing safety barrier allocation to prevent domino effects in large-scale chemical clusters using graph theory and optimization algorithms

Muchen Zhang, Zelin Li, Shuya Hou, Siyu Deng, Genserik Reniers, Ming Yang, Bin Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Domino effects are high-impact low-probability events that can have catastrophic consequences. To prevent and to reduce risks related to such events, safety barriers (SBs) are crucial. However, the initiation, propagation, and stopping processes of domino effects are characterized with complexity and uncertainties and hence they are unpredictable. This makes it challenging to allocate SBs based on predicted probabilities. In this study, a multi-objective optimization model which integrates graph theory with Non-dominated Sorting Genetic Algorithm II (NSGA-II) was proposed to allocate add-on SBs effectively. Graph metrics were used to quantify the escalation risks related to storage tanks and to optimize the allocation of add-on SBs, thereby minimizing the consequences of a domino effect under a budget constraint. The results of the case study demonstrate great efficiency in finding globally optimal strategies with a largest reduction of 94.3% in the out-closeness score due to the implementation of add-on SBs, allowing decision-makers to choose the most preferable investment strategy in face of domino effect risk. Our study therefore provides a novel approach to achieve an optimal allocation of add-on SBs globally and can be useful in preventing domino effects in large-scale chemical clusters equipped with a large number of storage tanks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1192-1205
Number of pages14
JournalProcess Safety and Environmental Protection
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project https://www.openaccess.nl/en/you-share-we-take-care Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Domino effects
  • Graph theory
  • Multi-objective optimization
  • Safety barriers


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