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Guarding Against Fires and Explosions Caused by Self-Heating

By Guibing Zhao, Chilworth Technology, a DEKRA Insight company |

The two experimental methods presented here can be used to quantify powder self-heating hazards in layer and bulk conditions in industrial processes Bulk storage of heated powders and powder accumulations on hot surfaces or in heated environments can potentially lead to self-heating and spontaneous ignition. Examples of locations within processing companies where self-heating of powder accumulations may be expected include uninsulated steam pipes, inappropriately rated or selected electric motors and lighting fixtures, mechanical mills and inside surfaces of various dryers. Self-heating is a complicated phenomenon consisting of both an exothermic chemical reaction and a heat-transfer process, which can cause material smoldering and even lead to fires and dust-cloud explosions. The parameters that affect the actual self-heating for a given material, include bulk size and shape, temperature, time and oxygen/air accessibility. Appropriate tests have been developed to predict self-heating hazard under plant-scale conditions. This article introduces the “layer powder” screening and the advanced “basket” tests (Figure 1) that may be used to deduce the reaction kinetics and therefore to extrapolate the laboratory-scale test data…
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