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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Recent Recycling Plant Explosions

Recent Recycling Plant Explosions

In reference to combustible dust and in the wake of recent recycling plant fires and explosions, we need to increase awareness of combustible dust hazards in the recycling process industry.

We have protected many types of recycling plants in many industries. Many forms of recycling plants including paper, wood, rubber, aluminum, lead, even batteries and tires, etc. often create combustible dust as a byproduct, similar to their parent primary manufacturing processes. We have even helped protect military installations where they were grinding everything from paperwork to munitions! However the recycling industry can be as, or even more hazardous because of the nature of the byproducts from recycling, as well as the creation of sparks from fractioning recycled materials. Of course any time you have fugitive dust it is typically conveyed to a dust collector containing the comdust and oxygen, two of the three main ingredients to the fire triangle.

Disburse this air-fuel mix within a confined space such as a dust collector, storage bin or silo, and you now have the perfect recipe for a significant combustion event - a deflagration!. All you then need to complete the fire triangle or explosion pentagon is a single spark from friction or heat. Many recyclers are literally "playing with fire!"

Solutions can include Spark Detection & Extinguishing Systems, and Fire & Explosion Protection Systems, depending on the process and combustibility of the product and fugitive dust. The keys to prevention and mitigation are process hazard analysis, as well as correctly engineered process, controls, dust collection, and safety systems, and training.
-Jeff Nichols

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