August 28th, 2009 by Dr. Saraf
Green is “In”. But just because you have a green technology does not mean you have ZERO risks. Let me give you a couple of examples.
Dr. Saraf makes a very valid and important point in his blog post.
It has been my experience that emerging technologies often lag in safety as the technology and process dangers develop. Our readers may note that biofuels are both liquid and solid forms.
I can speak directly to the pellet Industry, and specifically to the wood pellet process as this growth industry is now experiencing critical mass with 100 pellet plants in N.America and an ever increasing number of incidents of fires and explosions.
Fires and explosions in this industry are predominantly due to lack of awareness of the combustibility of the product and byproduct from these processes, as well as lack of properly designed process controls, dust collection, safety systems (such as adequate spark detection & extinguishment and explosion protection), and understanding of current standards and code, as well as enforcement.
Although NFPA 664 is the current best engineering practice for the prevention of fires and explosions in the wood products industry, and chapter 8 outlines in great detail how to protect theses systems, including fire prevention, fire protection, dust control, making processes intrinsically safe, housekeeping, change management, etc., this industry does not yet realize that NFPA 654 has been adopted by and referenced by controlling OSHA documents such as their NEP on comdust. Or that the IBC International Building Code and International Fire Code incorporates NFPA 654 by reference.
A large problem currently are the unresolved issues regarding OSHA and preemption, especially in states without OSHA state plans.