How to safely handle explosible dust — Part I
Dust explosions can be a hazard in any plant that handles dry bulk materials. This two-part article discusses how you can handle explosible dust safely. Part I explains how to assess dust explosion hazards in your plant and how to test your dust's explosion parameters. Part II, which will appear in the February issue, discusses how to select an explosion protection method, including venting, suppression, and isolation.
An explosion occurs when energy is released over a short enough period and in a small enough volume to create a measurable pressure wave that travels away from the source. One type of explosion, called a dust explosion, can occur in vessels handling bulk materials that create a dust and air mixture [dust cloud]. Such vessels include process equipment [such as pneumatic conveying equipment or dust collectors] and storage silos [in which the air above the stored material contains dust]. A dust explosion is extremely dangerous because it rapidly increases pressure inside the vessel. The explosion may violently damage the vessel and surrounding area and even injure workers.