Wednesday, March 31, 2010

COMBUSTIBLE WOOD FLOUR - "Factory fire causes $350000 damage"

Articles like this always catch my eye:
"Factory fire causes $350000 damage"

Over the years I have helped protect many of these wood flour producers. 

This fire was likely caused by the dryer. 
Although many are also started in the grinding process. 

For a wood flour composite extrusion process like this, 
they will typically dry wood flour to just below combustion 
point, creating a highly flammable combustible material 
and dust in the process.  

They will typically use pneumatic
conveying of the dried wood flour from the dryer to the process.  

Depending on how the conveying, collection and storage systems
are designed, this wood flour can also agglomerate and create
stalactites and material build-up
within the ductwork at any joints, elbows and transitions,
and also any joints or corners of the dust separator or collector. 

These stalactites can super heat in the hot air stream from the dryer,
creating red-hot ignition points within the ductwork and collector. 

Many times for humidity reasons, these dust collectors are located
inside the building.  
You can see that super heated combustible dust within the dust
collection or storage equipment can easily combust at many points
in the process, be transported to other points in the process,
and can also start to degrade and super heat within the storage bin. 

Without proper process and safety system design, this process is
a time bomb.  They have many of the same issues in the wood pellet
and MDF industries - any process where they are grinding
and drying wood flour.
In the process described in the article, wood flour is then mixed
with other polymers, and extruded into plastic-wood decking,
and other components.
Employees will often say afterward that they heard small booms or
smelled smoke, but could not find the source.  
These are precursors to an event described in the article.
Plants like this need process design and safety system design
review; Fire Prevention equipment like Spark Detection and
Suppression systems on all of the ductwork, CO detection
within storage bins; Fire Protection Equipment like sprinkler and
deluge systems in the collectors and silos; and
Explosion Protection equipment like venting and suppression
in all critical collectors and storage equipment.

All of the process and safety systems must also meet current 
standards such as NFPA 664 in this case.

Factory fire causes $350000 damage
Wilmington News Journal, OH
The presence of combustible dust was a concern for firefighters, he said. “The dust, as with grain bins, can make for an explosive situation. ...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Understanding the Dangers of Combustible Dust - sssnews

This article written for Security Shredding and Storage News talks about Fire Safety for the Secure Shredding Industry.  If you have combustible dust - we can help.

I saw this posted on John Astad's (Combustible Dust Policy Institute) Facebook page:


Tom Andel, columnist and blogger for Modern Materials Handling (, and a contributor to Logistics Management, shares with readers preventing and mitigating fire potential in a shredding operation.
Security Shredding & Storage News

Friday, March 12, 2010

O.A. Newton on dust

Control the Dust = Limit Your Problems + Increase your Profits ...
By oanewton
Seemingly non-combustible compounds become explosive when the air to dust ratio is in the correct range. Grain, metal particles, chemicals and other air borne substances have a surprising ability to become explosive when they have the ...
OA Newton's Blog -

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

MEMIC Safety Blog: OSHA Eye's Combustible Dust Exposures

From our friends at MEMIC, an introduction to OSHA requirements for Wood Working Facilities.
Topics include:

o OSHA’s requirements for identifying and controlling exposures to combustible dust.
o How to control wood dust exposures generated by commonly used woodworking equipment.
o OSHA related standards, how to recognize wood dust exposures, how to evaluate combustible dust  concentrations, controlling combustible dust, dust system requirements.
o Chronic exposure
o OSHA NEP National Emphasis Program for Combustible Dust CPL 03-00-008

MEMIC Safety Blog: OSHA Eye's Combustible Dust Exposures
By MEMIC Safety
Posted by Hartley Webb This year many wood product companies have requested assistance from MEMIC to help identify and control wood dust exposures and to develop procedures to comply with OSHA's wood dust regulations.
MEMIC Safety Blog -

MEMIC is Maine's largest workers' compensation insurer with a growing profile across the Northeast, through its subsidiary MEMIC Indemnity Company. Combined, MEMIC insures more than 20,000 employers and their estimated 200,000 employees.

Friday, March 5, 2010

John Ratzenberger - 3 Cheers for Manufacturing

EXCLUSIVE: Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs: Three Cheers for Manufacturing
Through its manufacturing summer camps and scholarships, Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs is inspiring the next generation of manufacturers and other tinkerers ...  continue

Brought to you by our friends at Chemical Info. 

For more information on FMA, visit  
For more information on The Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs Foundation, visit