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AC Compressor Explosion: Two ship crews seriously injured

AC Compressor Explosion

Two ship crews seriously injured as Engine Control Room (ECR) Air Condition (AC) unit compressor exploded while charging gas.

The two Engineers ( 2nd Engineer and electrical engineer) affected by the accident, was on process of refilling Freon gas into the compressor, as the AC cooling was not sufficient for the ECR.

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The incident which was sent to all fleets said to have left the two Indian crews on a serious injury, as they are presently receiving treatments.

Engine control room ECR damaged

Engine control room ECR damaged by the fire and explosion

Cause of the AC explosion

Frankly speaking, it’s was not clear to them the main wrong operation they carried out before the explosion. But with the history of the same AC unit, it was clear that the condenser sea water side regularly get blocked by sea grease and particles.

Air Condition (AC) Lessons To Learn

The appliance we all rely on to keep ship, office and homes cool could potentially pose a fire or explosion risk.

Be warn that rising in temperatures can strain air conditioning units and, if they are not properly maintained, can turn them into fire and explosion hazards.

If they are overworked and overheated or there are some electrical issues, it can catch nearby combustibles on fire and finally explode the compressor which is under pressure all the time.Considering the incident onboard that ship, we can only point out to two explosive devices ;

– Air condition (AC) compressor

– Freon Cylinder bottle

Now, to get clear to young professionals or experience ones, we will get to answer a few questions about the two devices connected to the job they were to do.

what causes AC compressor explosion?

A compressor may explode because of lack of oil, overheating, over pressure and old age.

Compressor Oil is important here, as it the only fluid which lubricates the working mechanisms. Improper amount of compressor oil could place it mechanisms risk of friction, which will result to overheat.

Lack of oil could be when the air conditioning compressor was initially installed, there was insufficient oil added to it or loss of oil over time due to a refrigerant leak together with oil.

Is Freon cylinder explode?

The answers is YES. Freon is a liquid or gaseous chemical compound commonly used in refrigerators, air conditioners, and freezers. Known by the chemical name chlorodifloromethane, it is a nontoxic and nonflammable material.

Actually, freon does not burn at room temperature, it may combust when mixed with air (about 65 %) at low pressure.Furthermore, Freon is compressed into self pressure releasing cylinders that may rupture because of extended exposure to fires over 900 degrees Celsius.

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Although freon itself does not catch fire, but the cylinders containing the gas may explode if the fire is not controlled. This happens because of pressure buildup within the cylinders caused by the rise in surrounding temperature.

What about fridge, freezer, or piston compressors can they explode ?

Having explain the gas theory, the answer is Yes as well. But this happens in different dimensions ; Let’s take for example galley (home kitchen) fridge, explosions are usually due to the fridge’s compressor. The compressor, located at the back of most fridges, contains a motor and pump which compresses the gas refrigerant through the compressor’s coils. When that gas condensed ( cools down) and turns into a liquid, it soaks up heat in the fridge and cools the items inside it.

However, the back of a fridge can get hot as the refrigerant moves through the compressor, causing the coils to contract, which traps the gas. This makes the gas unable to properly vent and it can burst through the compressor’s coils, creating an explosion.

How to prevent A/C compressor or Freon from exploding ?

To prevent a fridge or AC compressor and freon cylinder explosion onboard your ship or your own home;

– Always make a plan of cleaning your AC or fridge’s coils to make sure that they’re not clogged.

– Never allow the system to clog by ice , to allow easy gas passage or flow.

– Store freon bottles on a room temperature (At least 18 – 25 degree)

– Never over charge gas on the compressor, always use measuring gauge to maintain same average pressure or kilogrammes recommend by the manufacturer.

– Charge Freon slowly. better to stop the compressor, charge little, run it for some minutes to see the behaviour.

– Make sure to clean the evaporator, for condensed for easy flow of gas back.- Always be careful with electric power supply to the compressor, as the may as well crate fire, which will result to explosion.


As we always recommend to our crews and fans, your safety is your wealth. When you think safe, it’s not only for you, it’s for all ( crews onboard, your family at home, etc).

Hopefully this article will be useful for someone out there. Also if you got more to contribute to this article, kindly share on the comment section below. Like to share with friends? Share and subscribe for more related articles.

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