Gas cylinder explosion in India’s premier government lab kills 1 person, wounds 3 more – The Safety Zone

The interior of the building housing the IISc Department of Aerospace Engineering, photographed in 2011. Credit: Mohammadulhaque.

Contributed by K. V. Venkatasubramanian, special to C&EN.

A gas cylinder blast in a laboratory at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) on Dec. 5 killed one researcher and left three others grievously wounded.

The researchers were working in the Laboratory for Hypersonic and Shock Wave Research, which was established in the 1970s to study shock waves.

Vikram Jayaram, head of IISc’s internal investigation team, told C&EN on Dec. 31 that the explosion involved cylinders containing hydrogen-oxygen mixtures that are used to generate controlled shock waves in a protected, closed container to study granite fragmentation for purposes such as mining and oil recovery. “At this stage of the inquiry, all indications are that adequate safety precautions were employed,” Jayaram said.

Manoj Kumar, 32, died instantly. Naresh Kumar, Atulya Uday Kumar, and Karthik Shenoy were hospitalized. All were project engineers employed by start-up Super-Wave Technology, an IISc initiative managed by aerospace engineering professors K. P. J. Reddy and G. Jagadeesh. The company researches shock waves and their applications.

Police booked the two professors on Dec. 6 on charges of causing death due to negligence and for causing grievous injuries by acts endangering the lives and personal safety of others.

UPDATE: This story was revised on Dec. 31, 2018, to incorporate new information from Vikram Jayaram.

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