Test results: Comparing FIBC fabrics for use in flammable atmospheres
Are you aware that handling your dry bulk material in flexible intermediate bulk containers [FIBCs] can produce electrostatic discharges? In a flammable atmosphere, the result could be a damaging dust or vapor explosion. This article describes a consulting firm's tests of FIBCs made of standard, groundable, and antistatic fabrics to determine how suitable each is for use in a flammable atmosphere. Sections cover the test apparatus, procedure, and results; a charge transfer analysis of the standard and antistatic FIBCs; and how you can apply the test results when selecting an FIBC for use in a flammable atmosphere.
Transporting and storing raw material, in-process material, or product in flexible intermediate bulk containers [FIBCs] rather than small bags can save you money and time. But the standard polypropylene fabric typically used to make an FIBC [also called a bulk bag] has insulating qualities that can cause the bag to generate and accumulate electrostatic charge. When the FIBC contacts a grounded worker or plant structure, the bag's accumulated charge can produce an electrostatic discharge, or spark, which in turn can ignite some flammable atmospheres.