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An Assessment of the Risks Presented by Carbon Fiber Composites Released from Motor Vehicle Fires.

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Contractor rept.,

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A risk assessment was conducted to estimate the potential losses through 1993 due to the usage of carbon fiber CF composites in U.S. motor vehicles, including automobiles and trucks. Motor vehicle fires could conceivably release minute carbon fibers, which might disperse in the atmosphere, penetrate buildings or enclosures, and cause damaging shorts to electronic equipment. Of a total estimated 310,000 vehicle fires per year in the U.S., approximately 94,000 could potentially release carbon fibers. The average mass released was estimated to be about 20 grams per incident, based on forecasts of CF usage through 1993 and experimental tests with burning CF composites, A methodology was developed to compute estimated dollar losses by county and equipment type, using a Poisson model for the incidence of equipment failures. This approach incorporated data on the geographic distribution of potentially vulnerable facilities, as well as the mean CF exposure levels at which various equipment would fail. The results were then statistically aggregated to produce a national risk profile for estimated annual losses in 1993. The expected loss was 5,567 per year 1977 dollars, and the likelihood of exceeding 500,000 in annual losses was estimated to be at most one in ten thousand. The sensitivity of these results to major input parameters was investigated, and it was found that under extreme worst-case assumptions the annual loss would increase to about 1.5 million. jg p3

Subject Categories:

  • Refractory Fibers
  • Physical Chemistry
  • Surface Transportation and Equipment
  • Combustion and Ignition

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