Suction of combustible and explosive dust
The topic of combustible dusts in the workplace is of paramount importance for worker safety and accident prevention. This article will review the characteristics of combustible dusts, how to prevent explosions, and how to identify and control the explosion potential of dusts.
Types of combustible dust and their hazards
Combustible dusts pose a potential safety hazard in many industries. There are three main categories of flammable dusts: natural organic materials, synthetic organic materials and metals. Each category has different behavior when exposed to a source of combustion and therefore requires specific management to ensure a safe working environment.
The natural organic materials category includes substances such as flour, wood, paper, natural fibers and food products. These materials consist mainly of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, and can be easily combusted in the presence of a heat source, such as a spark or an open flame. Combustion of these materials also produces toxic fumes and gases, such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, which can pose additional health hazards to workers.
Synthetic organic materials are chemicals of synthetic origin, such as polymers and resins, that are used in many industries, such as plastic and rubber production. These materials can be highly flammable and can produce toxic fumes and gases when burned. They can also be very sensitive to sparks and heat sources, such as welding lights or machines that produce friction, and therefore require careful handling to prevent fires and explosions.
The metals category includes substances such as aluminum, magnesium, titanium and zinc. These materials can be highly flammable and can react violently with water and other chemicals, such as acids. Burning metals can also produce toxic fumes and gases, such as carbon monoxide and zinc oxide, which can pose additional health hazards to workers.
How to identify and control dust explosion potential
Knowing the parameters of treated powders is essential to eliminate ignition sources and limit the effects of explosions, minimizing injuries.
Here are some indices for assessing the hazardousness of flammable dusts:
- KST: measures how destructive a given powder is once the explosion has started
- Pmax: allows calculation of how much damage the powder is capable of doing within an enclosed environment
- MIE: indicates the amount of energy required to ignite
- MIT: indicates the minimum temperature for which a hot surface will ignite a dust cloud or dust layer after making contact.
To prevent explosions, plant elements such as dryers must be tested for the minimum ignition temperature to prevent a dust explosion through contact with a hot surface. In addition, equipment such as industrial vacuum cleaners, machinery, and processing equipment that come into contact with combustible dust must be designed to prevent leakage and minimize the release of dust into work areas ensuring maximum safety.
How is the dust explosion triggered?
Combustible dust explosion is triggered when all factors of the explosion pentagon are present simultaneously: combustible, oxygen, ignition source, fuel dispersion and confinement. To avoid accidental explosions, it is essential to take proper precautions in handling, storing and processing combustible materials.
Combustible is a substance that can burn and react with oxygen, generating energy. Combustible dusts are fine, dry particles that can burn rapidly when exposed to the ignition source. Oxygen is a gas that fuels the combustion of the fuel, increasing the temperature and pressure within the system.
The ignition source can be an external energy, such as a spark or flame, that comes into contact with the combustible dust. Once combustion begins, the dust particles heat up, producing hot gases and expanding rapidly. This combustion process is known as deflagration.
Fuel dispersion is another important factor in triggering the explosion. When combustible dust particles are dispersed in the air, a mixture of fuel and oxygen is created that can be easily ignited by the ignition source.
The confinement of the fuel-oxygen mixture is a critical factor that can amplify the effect of the explosion. When the mixture is confined in a confined space, such as a combustion chamber, the pressure and temperature increase rapidly due to combustion. This pressure increase can cause the chamber to explode, generating a violent shock wave that can cause significant damage to people and surrounding property.
Explosion prevention: Atex-certified safety vacuum solutions
Atex-certified industrial vacuum cleaners are a safe and reliable solution for extracting combustible dust in hazardous work environments. These devices are designed to collect dust safely and not create any kind of ignition that could cause explosions. In addition, industrial vacuum cleaners can be classified according to the Atex zone of use, ensuring greater safety in certain types of Atex environments. Because of their advanced safety features, industrial vacuum cleaners are particularly suitable for industries that work with combustible dust, such as food, pharmaceutical, chemical and metal processing industries. In any case, it is important to choose the right industrial vacuum cleaner for your needs to ensure maximum safety and efficiency when vacuuming combustible dust.