Acronym for "boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion". This type of explosion is extremely hazardous and can occur during the rupture of a vessel containing pressurized liquid. When the liquid is water, the explosion is usually called a steam explosion. An alternate, whimsical interpretation of the acronym is "Blast Leveling Everything Very Effectively."
A BLEVE can occur in a vessel that stores a substance under pressure where the stored contents coexist at high pressure in both a liquid and gaseous phase, e.g., liquefied petroleum gas. A BLEVE is possible for this type of container where sudden decompression within the container causes a rapid boiling of the liquid contents, resulting in an explosive overpressure at the point of rupture.
A BLEVE can be prevented in the case of a venting gas cylinder by cooling the cylinder with water or foam, taking special care not to extinguish the flame in the process, until the leak is stopped or the cylinder emptied.