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Controlling Static Hazards; Combustible Cloud Explosions

uk sources of ignition 19Powder materials could become the fuel for an explosion or fire due to static electricity build up creating a spark during industrial processes. Powdered milk, sawdust, plastic resin, rubber, metals - like aluminium - and chemicals - such as magnesium - all have the potential of creating clouds of combustible dust. In hazardous areas, this can potentially be disastrous.

Three separate studies with collective data totalling 1100 dust explosions gathered in the US, UK and Germany highlight process equipment that have proven to be known sources of primary dust explosions. The main processes that suffer from explosions are dust collection, powder grinding and pulverising, powder conveying operations, silo and container filling and powder mixing and blending.

Incendive electrostatic sparks usually result from the lack of a thorough and detailed risk assessment, unintended changes to equipment during routine maintenance and unsafe operator working practices. To prevent electrostatic discharges igniting combustible dust atmospheres companies should risk assess their processes and equipment to ensure any potential sources of ignition are identified and managed correctly. In operations that use solvents for suspending powders in blending and conveying systems (and for powders that give off their own flammable vapours) surrounding work spaces will be zoned or classified as being potentially flammable and combustible atmospheres. All potential sources of internal and external static discharges from process equipment situated in zoned & classified areas must be accounted for and managed in the appropriate way.

And with the average gross loss for a single dust explosion costing around $2 million, can your business afford to ignore the risks of static? Read more to find solutions for your processes…