Prevent Combustible Dust Explosions

Combustible DustA dust explosion is a horrific and devastating event that can cost lives and destroy property. They are not foregone conclusions in production facilities, however. They are entirely preventable by following some comprehensive steps.

 

The team at XP Products has put together this blog post to provide vital information on how to prevent a combustible dust explosion. First, let’s define what is considered combustible dust. It is a fine material that’s explosive when mixed with air. It includes finely ground metal particles, such as aluminum or zinc, or organic materials like flour and grain, for example, and some nonmetallic inorganic materials like plastic.

 

Without proper measures in place to control dust, it builds up across a facility. All it takes then is an event to disturb the dust, which is suspended, gets ignited, and explodes.

 

A dust hazard analysis, also known as a DHA, identifies potentially explosive situations by systematically looking at processes and areas within the building where dust can be found.

 

Hiring an outside company to look at your operation impartially is the most effective way to have a dust hazard analysis conducted. They thoroughly study and flag problem areas while providing advice for rectification.

 

The best way to prevent a dust explosion is to use the proper equipment and processes to keep dust from accumulating in the first place. If problem areas are identified, they should be thoroughly cleaned with an approved vacuuming system so the dust is not disturbed and made airborne.

January 31, 2020

What is Combustible Dust?

Combustible Dust ManagementThis is too serious a subject to just say combustible dust is dust that can explode when suspended in the air. Yes, that’s true, but at XP Products, we want to dive much deeper into the topic and provide useful information that can help prevent dust explosions.

 

There are various types of combustible dust, and the one thing they all have in common is that they are all exceedingly fine. The main sources are organic materials such as wood, flour, sugar, grain, and cornstarch, and metallic dust that comes from aluminum, zinc, and bronze, for example. Non-metallic inorganic dust comes from material such as plastic or rubber.

 

The risk arises when the dust is left unchecked and builds up across a facility. When this dust is disturbed, it gets suspended in the air. At that point, a very small source of ignition can trigger an initial explosion that leads to a greater secondary explosion.

 

There are many examples of dust explosions that cost workers their lives. A dust explosion and subsequent fire at a sugar refinery in Georgia killed 14, and a polyethylene dust explosion killed six at a plant in North Carolina.

 

Explosions at facilities that generate dust are not inevitable. They are preventable through a dust hazard analysis or DHA. An analysis is very effective in identifying problem areas and providing solutions to prevent explosions from occurring.

January 31, 2020

What is Deflagration Venting?

Deflagration ExplosionWhile you can take measures to prevent explosions at your facility, the fact remains that you can’t 100% guarantee an explosion will never happen. However, you can add safety features to minimize damage, such as deflagration venting.

 

Deflagration vents are an explosion protection measure that uses a preplanned escape route to release the pressure and flames generated during an explosion safely. This release prevents a dangerous buildup of pressure within the equipment or building that is being protected. Instead, the pressure and combustion gases get routed to a safe location, minimizing structural and mechanical damage.

 

Protection for a Range of Equipment and Structures

Engineers utilize deflagration venting to protect many types of industrial equipment, including:

·         Dust Collectors

·         Cyclones

·         Mills

·         Dryers

·         Bucket Elevators

·         Bins

 

Deflagration vents can also protect a building’s structural integrity during an explosion. When protecting a building, deflagration venting is typically achieved by installing thin metal panels on the exterior walls of the building that represent the weakest point of the structure.

 

If there is an explosion, the vents should be the only part of the structure to fail, protecting the rest of the building from damage. The vents are precisely designed to burst at a given opening pressure to maintain the building’s structural integrity. Learn more about this explosion protection measure and its potential applications by talking to an experienced engineer.

January 31, 2020

Which Industries are at Risk of a Combustible Dust Explosion?

Up in a FlashTypically, dust is little more than an annoyance and minor health hazard. However, during certain industrial environments, dust can be deadly. Some industries produce combustible dust, which consists of accumulated particles with the potential to ignite and create a flash fire.

 

To prevent a tragic accident, it’s crucial to workplaces to perform risk assessments and inspections routinely, keep work areas clean, and ensure employees wear the appropriate protective gear. The following industries are generally considered to be at the highest risk of a combustible dust explosion:

 

Food Production: Sugar, grains, egg whites, powdered milk, and certain other food products carry a risk of combustion under the right conditions. Food production and agricultural workers should be aware of the inherent risk of handling, transporting, and storing these products.

 

Synthetic Manufacturing: Common materials for synthetic manufacturing (such as rubber, plastics, and other manmade substances) can create combustible dust clouds. Safety measures must be taken to prevent ignition.

 

Woodworking: Cutting, grinding, sanding, and polishing wood generates sawdust, which easily combusts in certain conditions, like being ignited by a spark from a nearby machine.

 

Metal Processing: The dust of metals like aluminum, chromium, iron, magnesium, and zinc is combustible. Furthermore, many activities in a metal processing environment produce heat and sparks, raising the risk of an explosion.

 

Recycling Facilities: Recycling facilities handle a diverse array of materials, some of which may produce combustible dust during sorting, processing, handling, and transporting.

January 31, 2020

Contact us today to discuss your NFPA compliant dust collection needs.

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