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Preventing Self-Heating and Ignition in Drying Operations

By Pieter Zeeuwen and Vahid Ebadat, Chilworth Global |

Many solid materials can exhibit self-heating, which — if unchecked — can progress to a fire or even explosion. And even if the situation does not get that far, it is likely to affect the output of the process, in terms of product quality degradation, for example. Recognizing that your product in powder or granular form can self-heat is the first step in controlling the risks associated with self-heating. Whenever self-heating incidents are investigated, we find that a common root cause is a lack of understanding of self-heating phenomena. This article provides an introduction to self-heating phenomena and suggests measures to control this type of ignition source.   What is self-heating? Not all particulate solids that are classified as combustible dust (in other words, pose a dust explosion hazard) will self-heat at normal processing temperatures, and conversely, some of the materials that do self-heat react too slowly to pose a dust explosion hazard. Some materials can self-heat at ambient temperatures, especially in large-scale storage, but for most materials the hazards arise when they are heated. Self-heating can arise by one of two different mechanisms: by exothermic (heat releasing) chemical reactions and by exothermic…
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