ASIA June 2019
 
Explosion protection solutions for F&B manufacturers by IEP Technologies
 
For over 60 years, IEP Technologies has worked with food manufactures to develop a comprehensive explosion protection strategy designed to protect their plants and employees from the damaging effects from industrial dust explosions.
According to David Grandaw, Vice President, Sales of IEP Technologies, “The risk of combustible dust explosion is present at many food processing facilities that process or handle combustible solids and/or vapors. Food manufacturing processes often have many types of process equipment that have combustible dust or vapors present. These vessels may include spray dryers, fluid beds, cyclones, dust collectors, blenders, milling equipment and storage vessels. When dust is in suspension within any of these vessels, all it takes is an ignition source to initiate an explosion.”
David said that explosion risk is not limited to these vessels however. If an uncontrolled explosion occurs within a vessel, pressure wave and fireball is ejected from the ruptured vessel and can create a secondary explosion with devastating results, including destruction of building and loss of life. Even if the primary vessel is safely vented, flame can travel through interconnections such as ducts and conveyors to other areas of the process where secondary explosions can also occur.
He elaborated that the first step a food manufacturing facility should take in addressing explosion risk is to perform a dust hazard assessment and implement ignition controls, such as static control and spark detection systems, to minimize the potential for explosion. These alone, however, are not sufficient to protect against the threat of explosion. The following are protection methods available to protect these vessels should an explosion start even when prevention methods are used.

Explosion Relief Venting
The explosion relief vent features a membrane constructed of a material weaker than vessel wall. During early stages of a dust explosion, the vent ruptures, relieving overpressure and directs fireball to a safe location. The explosion relief vent is designed to ensure that the explosion's pressure rise does not exceed the rupture pressure of the vessel.
Flameless venting protects indoor equipment from by combining an explosion relief vent with a flame arrester. Like an explosion relief vent, the flameless vent's sealing device (often a spring-loaded disc) opens during an explosion. The overpressure, flame, and material discharge through the flame arrester, which prevents the flame from discharging into surrounding area.

Explosion Suppression
These systems are typically installed where it is not possible to safely vent an explosion such as a vessel located indoors or with a material which cannot be released to the environment such as a herbicide. The system detects an incipient dust explosion within milliseconds after ignition and discharges an extinguishing agent into the protected vessel at a very high speed to extinguish before a destructive overpressure develops.
A major advantage of explosion suppression is that no flame is ejected from the protected vessel, and the risk of a post-deflagration fire is greatly diminished.

Explosion Isolation
Isolation devices prevent an event in one vessel from propagating to other equipment, where it could cause secondary explosions. An isolation device can be active or passive. An active device has detection components, including explosion pressure and/or flame detectors, and a control unit. The detectors identify explosion pressure or a flame and signal the controls to rapidly deploy the isolation device.
Active isolation devices are either chemical or mechanical. A chemical isolation device works by rapidly discharging an extinguishing agent into connecting ductwork to mitigate flame propagation. A mechanical isolation option includes a high-speed gate valve. Milliseconds after the active high-speed gate valve's detectors sense explosion pressure or flame, the controls rapidly deploy a mechanical barrier -- closing the valve's gate across the interconnecting ductwork.
For some applications a passive isolation solution such as flap-style isolation valve is appropriate. These are self-actuated, held open by process airflow and then close from the pressure wave generated from a deflagration so it requires no detectors or controls. This device is typically used to isolate dust collection equipment.

According to David, dust explosions at food processing facilities do not need to happen. “Understanding where an explosion may happen in the facility, implementing ignition controls, and employing explosion protection measures such as explosion venting, suppression and isolation, will minimize the risk of an incipient explosion in process equipment from escalating into a catastrophic event,” he added.
Whether the application calls for an integrated spark detection and extinguishing system, an explosion detection and suppression system, a venting device with isolation, or any combination, IEP Technologies can provide a complete range of explosion protection solutions specifically engineered to meet the challenges within a food processing application.
The IEP Technologies team, its field and application engineers and service technicians, have years of experience providing protection solutions for its customers within the food processing industry. Along with our customers…”Together We Save Lives”.
 
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