Dangers of Using Dust Explosion Data from 'Public' Sources

Jul 03, 2017
When assessing the fire and explosion hazards of powders and powder processing operations in a facility, there is often an inclination to first search for data from publicly available sources. While data obtained from public sources could offer some general insight regarding the ease of ignition and severity of the resulting explosion for a powder, such data should not be relied upon for the assessment of the hazards of a powder. More importantly, such data must not be used for the design of fire and explosion prevention and protection measures for an operation, process equipment, or facility.
There are several factors that could greatly affect the ignition sensitivity and explosion severity properties of powders, including chemical composition, particle size, moisture content, and the laboratory test method. Public sources very often do not provide this essential information. For example, public sources for Kst and Pmax data often do not indicate whether the quoted values have been obtained utilizing a 1-Liter Hartmann Bomb, a 20-Liter sphere, or a 1m3 spherical vessel, nor is crucial information on particle size and moisture content of the powder sample generally provided. Reliance on literature data could result in underestimating the ignition sensitivity and explosion severity of a powder, with disastrous results.
Taking a representative dust sample from the facility or process equipment and conducting the required testing using the appropriate test standard at a qualified laboratory would provide the highest level of certainty in the data.