Generally, explosion protection systems are used to protect pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, chemical and refining plants, bulk solids handling facilities, and other hazardous environments. These systems are essential because static sparks can cause dust explosions in enclosed spaces with a build up of volatile dust. Dust explosions can lead to financial loss, damage to equipment and facilities, injuries, and death.
In general, dust explosions occur during the pulverizing, processing, conveying, and storage of a number of materials, such as corn, aluminum, grain, cellulose, grain, flour, and other solid materials of a fine, powdery texture.
According to a study conducted by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, there were about 280 combustible dust explosions and fires between 1980 and 2005. A total of 119 people were killed in these incidents and 718 people were injured. Undoubtedly, these dust fires and explosions resulted in the financial loss of millions of dollars. Experts estimate that the direct cost of a dust explosion is one million dollars on average. Some explosions have leveled entire plants and bankrupted businesses.
What is an explosion protection system?
Every year, explosion accidents cause billions of dollars in financial losses and the deaths of hundreds of people across the planet. However, many of these explosion accidents could have been prevented with an explosion suppression system. Not only do explosion suppression systems reduce the likelihood of damage to equipment and facilities, but they also reduce the risk of injury or death for employees.
Venting is one of the most popular choices for the suppression of explosions. However, it is strongly recommended that venting is used along with explosion suppression systems for maximum protection. Here a few of the many advantages of explosion suppression systems:
- Prevents or reduces fire damage by extinguishing the fire within the facilities and/or equipment
- Prevents secondary explosions and pressure piling
- Complies with the standards set by the NFPA for avoiding the venting of explosions indoors
- Retains valuable or toxic materials in the process equipment
- Activates other protection systems by integrating with the process controls
- Offers great flexibility when it comes to strategies for fire protection
- Suppresses dust hazards of class ST III
How does an explosion protection system work?
Most explosion suppression systems are made up of four different components. These components are as follows:
- Control unit
- Confined space
Some explosion suppression systems also contain chemical and mechanical isolation systems to prevent pressure or flames from traveling through the piping or connected ducts into other equipment. These isolation system typically kick in within 5 milliseconds of detection of an explosion or fire.
Explosion detection devices work by recognizing the warning signs of a dust explosion or fire. These devices are responsible for determining when to activate the explosion suppression systems and/or the explosion isolation systems. Therefore, explosion detection devices play a critical role in preventing explosions and fires from damaging facility and equipment.
The explosion suppression system is designed to identify and suppress a dust explosion before it leads to a full‐blown disaster. This system is essential when it comes to reducing injuries, deaths, and damage.
Explosion isolation systems function to prevent the spread of a fire from one place to another through the use of chemical barriers and explosion insolation valves, which are fast‐acting. These systems work well in conjunction with explosion venting systems.
The chemical isolation method involves discharging an agent for explosion suppression to smother the flame, preventing it from spreading to other equipment and areas.
The mechanical isolation accomplishes the same goal by triggering the release of a knife valve, which is high‐speed. The knife value creates a mechanical barrier in the pipeline.
The explosion venting systems serve to offer over‐pressure protection from industrial explosion hazards by creating a pathway for the escape of the expanding gases of the explosion. Most will find it very affordable to install these systems. Not only are these systems affordable, but they also operate quickly and reliably in emergency situations.