09-16-2009, 10:19 PM

Larry Brunzlick | Explosafe

This is what I did with my wing fuel tanks last winter before closing them up.

I have always been concerned about the risks of fire in the event of a crash. Each bay of the wing tanks is fitted with a product called Explosafe. It is many layers of an expanded aluminum mesh. It looks a lot like the material in oven and range hoods. Products like these are used by the military and the racecar industry to reduce the explosiveness of fuel. It does this by absorbing energy and limiting the vaporization of fuel. Fuel from a ruptured tank can still burn but it does so at a very controlled rate and it does not explode. This could buy occupants of a crash that much needed time to extricate themselves from a plane. Websites that have videos demonstrating this type of product are quite impressive. A tank or fuel can, that is partially full of gasoline or even liquid propane, can be welded safely. There are a couple of other brands besides Explosafe, based in the United States. But they wouldn't deal with me because I wasn't the military or didn't represent a large manufacturer. Instead, I had to order the stuff from Explosafe, a company based in Switzerland, and have it shipped here. The material is extremely light and only occupies about 1 ½ % of the tank volume. A couple of the pictures show the aluminum sleeve I put in below the fuel filling opening.

I intend to install some kind of fire suppression system inside the engine cowling also.