To investigate inerting as a method of preventing dust cloud explosions.
One safety measure in industry to prevent dust explosions is inerting. This effectively removes oxygen thereby avoiding the formation of flammable atmospheres. However, a fully inerted system (i.e. where the oxygen concentration is maintained below the minimum oxygen for combustion) is not always practical and, in open systems, can be uneconomical.
In the future, fully or partially inerted systems are likely to be preferred to explosion protection measures such as pressure relief or suppression, since in the case of the former, loss of containment will still occur resulting in the emission of process material and combustion products, which may be toxic. In the latter case, activation of a suppression system will lead to product contamination (eg. suppressant material and combustion products) resulting in either re-working or disposal, both of which can be extremely costly.
It is proposed therefore to apply a novel application of oxygen reduction by examining the efficacy of partial inerting on incendivity reduction. The primary objective is to investigate the oxygen level at which sources of ignition commonly encountered in industry became incapable of initiating a dust cloud explosion. This option for safe operation in dust handling plant is not currently available because of the lack of data. Thus, potential ignition sources such as electrostatic discharges, friction sparks, burning powder layers, hot surfaces etc. will be evaluated with powder of differing ignition sensitivity and at reduced oxygen levels.
It is planned that this initial study will indicate the feasability and benefits of this approach to industry, with the ultimate aim of using partial inertion as an alternative to explosion protection.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
2280 AA Rijswijk Zh