Many industries have the potential to be affected by dust explosions. The processing of foodstuffs, natural fibres, metals and even electronic components can all generate dusts capable of exploding if they are mixed with air in the right proportions inside a vessel or duct. The same processing equipment can also generate sparks due to dry bearings, faulty machinery or a build-up of static charge, especially if recommended maintenance regimes are not followed.
When it comes to dust explosions, there is a lot to be said for adopting the approach that prevention is better than the cure. Although systems exist that can effectively extinguish a dust explosion after it starts to develop, FFE advocates systems that detect the occurrence of sparks and then take steps to prevent them initiating an explosion in the first place. The options include diverting the process flow away from the spark hazard, injecting an agent (such as water or carbon dioxide) to extinguish the sparks, or simply shutting down the process immediately. The choice depends on the preferred approach identified by your risk assessment.
Central to any explosion prevention system is the rapid and reliable detection of sparks. Devices like FFE’s Talentum® Spark use infrared radiation detectors to record the presence of a spark very rapidly, even before it has reached a sufficiently high temperature to visibly glow. They are designed to respond to flickering signals to avoid false alarms from continuous infrared sources such as sunlight or artificial lighting. These devices are well-suited for fitting to ducts in your system close to potential sources of sparks, and their signals can easily be fed back to a control panel and used to activate the appropriate response. They are therefore ideal for retrofitting to an existing process to strengthen your protection against dust explosions, perhaps following an audit from a health and safety consultant or an insurance agent’s appraisal.