Petri-net based cascading effect analysis of vapor cloud explosions

Jianfeng Zhou*, Genserik Reniers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


In the chemical process industry, flammable gases are handled or stored in many production- or storage facilities. They can cause a vapor cloud explosion (VCE) accident if they come free from their containment and there is an ignition. A knock-on effect propagation from a primary VCE to one or more subsequent VCE(s) forms the cascading effect of VCEs. A new methodology of probabilistic Petri-net (PPN), which is an extension of Petri-net, is proposed to model the cascading effect and estimate the probabilities of escalation VCEs. The definition of what is a PPN is provided and three types of probabilistic relationships based on PPN are modeled. Further, the VCE cascading analysis approach based on Petri-net reasoning (execution of transitions) is discussed. The approach is illustrated by an example analyzing a VCE cascading effect in atmospheric tanks containing gasoline.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-125
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries: the international journal of chemical and process plant safety
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Cascading effect
  • Domino effect
  • Probabilistic analysis
  • Probabilistic Petri-net
  • Vapor cloud explosion


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