A static spark in an enclosed space and a build up of 1/32 of an inch of volatile dust covering 5% surface area of a room dispersed into the air can cause a dust explosion. The amount of heat generated during an explosion results in extremely high pressures that damage process equipment, halt production, and place personnel at risk of serious injury or worse.
If the explosion is allowed to propagate, subsequent explosions can occur, often with catastrophic results. A study launched by the Chemical Safety Board found that between 1980 and 2005 there have been at least 281 combustible dust fires and explosions. These incidents have taken 119 lives and injured 718 more.
Economic Impact of a Dust Explosion
Effective explosion risk management is critical for companies to remain competitive in an era of globalization, outsourcing, plant consolidations, just-in-time delivery, and cross-border supply relationships. Leading insurance firms estimate the direct costs of an explosion typically run in excess of one million dollars, with many unprotected explosions leveling plants, or even closing businesses.
Direct and indirect costs associated with explosions include:
- Potential for injuries or deaths
- Rebuild or plant shutdown,
- Equipment replacement
- Process restructuring
- Operational downtime
- Supply chain disruption
- Market share decline
- Loss in shareholder confidence
- Revenue and profit loss
- Insurance may be harder to obtain and more expensive
- Possible fines from OSHA, EPA, other government agencies
Fike safety systems are designed with our customers' businesses in mind, giving them peace of mind and the ability to focus on what they do best. For over 60 years, Fike has brought patented innovative technologies to the market. When considering explosion protection for customers' processes, Fike is uniquely qualified as the total solutions provider of explosion protection, including all of the following:
When it comes to safety and protection, especially in dealing with dust explosions, there is little margin for error. The first step in hazard analysis is to effectively determine the material's combustible or explosive nature. In order to obtain this information, testing should be conducted by a qualified laboratory using internationally accepted procedures.
Fike has state-of-the-art explosion testing laboratories to verify the right products for our customers' applications and to gain information on dust explosions and their characteristics. Fike's testing capabilities include: vibration tests, leak testing, explosion testing and classification.
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Explosion Isolation is designed to prevent an explosion from escalating, by blocking the flame paths that lead to other process equipment or occupied areas - effectively containing the explosion, and eliminating secondary explosions. Utilizing control and explosion detection devices, mechanical or chemical barriers are used to block flames and pressure from spreading, saving valuable resources and minimizing damage.
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When it comes to preventing the tragic consequences of an explosion, time is the most important factor. Explosion pressures reach dangerous levels in less than 50 milliseconds. Fike's Explosion Suppression Systems are uniquely designed to detect and chemically suppress, in less than 1 millisecond, an explosion in its earliest (incipient) stages to prevent development of destructive pressures.
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Explosion Detection and Control
The new EPACO is a sophisticated explosion detection and control system that is easy to install and use. Its modular design, pre-configured set-ups, easy installation, small size and global compatibility, make EPACO the most flexible, simple-to-use explosion protection system available today.
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Explosion venting is the most common form of passive explosion protection. Used cost-effectively in many applications, explosion venting introduces a "weak element" in the pressure envelope of the equipment, relieving the internal combustion pressure in case of an explosion. Fike's high quality vents are easily installed and maintained allowing our customers' plants to continue operations with minimum down time.
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Flameless Explosion Venting
Depending on a customer's operations it may be necessary to locate process machinery inside. Flameless venting eliminates the need to relocate this equipment or add expensive duct work. Fike's flameless explosion venting extinguishes the flame from a vented explosion, releasing only post-combustion gases, therefore preventing the ignition of secondary explosions or potential injury and life loss.
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