Abstract Vent devices for gas and dust explosions are often ducted to safe locations by means of relief pipes. However, the presence of the duct increases the severity of explosion if compared to simply vented vessels (i.e. compared to cases where no duct is present). Besides, the identification of the key phenomena controlling the violence of explosion has not yet been gained. Multidimensional models coupling, mass, momentum and energy conservation equations can be valuable tools for the analysis of such complex explosion phenomena. In this work, gas explosions vented through ducts have been modelled by a two-dimensional (2D) axi-symmetric computational fluid dynamic (CFD) model based on the unsteady Reynolds Averaged Navier Stokes (RANS) approach in which the laminar, flamelet and distributed combustion models have been implemented. Numerical test have been carried out by varying ignition position, duct diameter and length. Results have evidenced that the severity of ducted explosions is mainly driven by the vigorous secondary explosion occurring in the duct (burn-up) rather than by the duct flow resistance or acoustic enhancement. Moreover, it has been found out that the burn-up affects explosion severity due to the reduction of venting rate rather than to the burning rate enhancement through turbulization.