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Evaluation of Combustible Dust Hazards

during a Process Hazards Analysis (PHA)

Mayur Patel
DuPont Engineering, India
&
S. Dharmavaram
DuPont Engineering Research & Technology, USA

8th Global Congress on Process Safety


Houston, Texas, April 1-4, 2012

Topics
 Basic Concepts: Combustible Dust Hazards
 Planning and preparing to conduct a PHA
 Team selection and training
 Review of process safety information

 Hazards Identification
 Hazards identification techniques
 Field tour
 Hazard, Hazardous events and major lines of defense

 Consequence Analysis
 Hazards Evaluation
 Methodology selection
 Application
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Basic Concepts
Dust Fire and Explosion Hazard

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What Materials Can Form Combustible Dust Clouds?


 Fine solids consisting of materials that
are not stable oxides:
 Most natural and synthetic materials (e.g.,
food grains, sugar, flour, many plastics and
chemicals)
 Some metals (e.g., aluminum, magnesium)

 Stable oxides (TiO2, SiO2, CaCO3) do not


pose a dust explosion hazard
 Screening tests can be conducted in
various test equipment to determine
whether a material should be classified
as a combustible dust

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Explosible Dust Concentration


MEC is orders of
magnitude above dust-inair concentrations that
are of concern from a
hygiene point of view
Typical MEC
~10-100 g/m3

Mass of Powder/Dust per unit Volume [g/m3]


(Ref: Dust Explosions in the Process Industries, R.K. Echhoff)

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Particle Size Distribution

Log: Difficult
To Light, Burns Slowly

Kindling: Easier to
Light, Burns Quickly

Dust: Lights Easily,


Burns VERY Fast

(Ref: Dust Explosions in the Process Industries, R.K. Echhoff)

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Potential Sources of Ignition


 We must consider all possible ignition sources, including:
 Hot surfaces
 Open flames
 Mechanical sparks
 Electrical arcs
 Self-Heating of material
 Chemical reactions
 Electrostatic discharges

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Key Challenges:
Evaluation of Dust Fire and Explosion Hazards
during a PHA

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Scope of the PHA study


 Look beyond process equipment
 Include building and facility in which
the process equipment is located
 Common facilities such as central
dust extraction and collection systems
should be evaluated
 Concerns of fugitive dust emissions
and dust layer hazards must be
addressed
 An example on the important this is:
West Pharmaceuticals Secondary
dust explosions and fires

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Team Selection and Training


 Individuals with appropriate skills,
knowledge and experience on
combustible dust hazards and
prevention & mitigation systems
 Full-time or ad-hoc team members
 PHA Resource or Process Technology
person (if trained)
 Provide training on Overview of
Combustible Dust Hazards to the PHA
team

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Review of Process Safety Information


 Flammability or explosion
characteristics of combustible solid
materials
 Minimum Explosible Concentration
(MEC)
 Auto Ignition Temperature Dust
Layer (AIT-Layer)
 Auto Ignition Temperature Dust
Cloud (AIT-Cloud)
 Minimum Ignition Energy (MIE)
 Dust Deflagration Index (Kst value)
 Limiting Oxygen Concentration (LOC)

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 Remember Size Matters!!!


 Finer Particles => Lower MEC,
Lower MIE, Higher Kst

 Do Not Miss to Review


 Effects of Product Moisture
 Environmental Effects

Review compliance with


RAGAGEPs, like NFPA-654 , NFPA68, NFPA-69, etc.
Consult a subject matter expert
if in doubt

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Review of Process Safety Information

 Specific Powder Testing


 Prior Test Results
 Manufacturer Specific Test
Data/Information
 Published Literature

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Increasing Confidence

Assessing Dust Flammability Properties

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Review of Process Safety Information


 Ask if PHA team has knowledge and
experience required for interpretation of
data for the process under review
Ask about all the dust flammability or
explosion data that may be required
 Ask if data available represents the finest
material within the process under review
 Ask if there is a potential for mixture with
other solid materials
 Ask if there is a potential for a hybrid
mixture
 Ask if additional electrostatic charging or
thermal stability information is required

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Ref: Investigation report, Combustible dust hazard study, CSB-USA

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Review of Process Safety Information


 Obtain and review design, installation, inspection
and maintenance related information for existing
explosion prevention and protection systems
 Explosion Prevention
 Nitrogen Gas Inerting
 Local Exhaust Ventilation and Collection system
 Elimination of all sources of ignition
 Explosion Protection
 Explosion Relief Venting
 Explosion Suppression
 Explosion Containment
 Explosion Isolation
(Ref: Dust Explosions in the Process Industries, R.K. Eckhoff)

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Hazard Identification Techniques


 Review process safety information
 Review of combustible dust incidents
 Review Management of Change (MOC) documents
 Review previous PHAs or PHAs involving similar equipment or
facilities
 PHA team experience

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Field Tour
 Some common field tour items:

Location of the explosion vent


panel(s) and exclusion zone
Location of sources of dust
releases
Accumulation of combustible
solid materials Look at
horizontal surfaces which may
not be easily accessible
Electrical apparatus in an
electrically classified area

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Hazardous Events and Consequence Analysis


 Common dust fire and explosion
events:
Flash-fires
Primary dust explosions
Explosion propagation (in
conjunction with primary dust
explosion)
Secondary dust explosions
Important to pay attention to
thermal decomposition or
degradation of solid materials

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Consequences of Venting
 Consider secondary effects:
Vented pressure waves
Vented fireball
Vented unburned dusts and
combustion gases
Effects of reaction forces
 Estimation of the dimension of the
fire-ball and the maximum external
pressure should be performed and
documented in a PHA to ensure that
explosions are vented to a safe
location.

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Hazard Evaluation
 Commonly used Hazard Evaluation methods:
What-If Analysis
Checklist Analysis
What-If/Checklist Analysis
Hazard & Operability (HAZOP)
Failure Mode & Effect Analysis (FMEA)
Fault Tree Analysis (FTA)
Event Tree Analysis (ETA)
Cause-Consequence Analysis

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Hazard Evaluation: What-if/Checklist Method


 What-if/Checklist is a logical choice for
combustible dust handling operations and facilities
 Greater emphasis on the use of checklist analysis to
uncover all combustible dust concerns
 Checklist:
stimulates additional What-if questions
helps ensure that the design, installation and
maintenance is in accordance with RAGAGEPs
helps identify paths to combustible dust fire and
explosion events
helps identify gaps in safeguards that may be
missed by utilizing other methodologies

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Hazard Evaluation: What-if/Checklist Method


 Develop a purpose-built checklist for the
operations, equipment and installations that
handle combustible solid materials
 Involve individuals having appropriate
knowledge and expertise to develop
purpose-built checklist(s)
 Checklist well-suited for the PHA team with
limited knowledge and experience of
combustible dust hazards and prevention/
mitigation systems
 Use purpose-built checklists as dynamic
documents that are updated periodically, for
example after incident investigations and
when RAGAGEPs change
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Hazard Evaluation: What-if/Checklist Method


 Example of a
purpose-built
checklist

Checklist - Dust Collector


1 Is dust collector located indoor or outdoor?
Is dust collector protected with appropriate explosion protection
2 systems in accordance with NFPA standards? Is design basis of the
explosion protection systems well documented?
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18

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Is appropriate risk analysis performed and documented where explosion


protecion is not used in accordance with NFPA standards?
Is explosion isolation provided to prevent propagation of an explosion to
the connected euipment or to the operating areas?
Is the exhaust fan associated with the unit located on the clean air side
of the collector? Consult expert if this is not the case.
Is dust collector constructed from non-combustible material (except for
filter media)?
Is dust collector constructed to minimize internal ledges or other points
of dust accumulation?
Is access doors or openings provided to permit inspection, cleaning and
maintenance? Are they leak tight?
Are all conductive (and metal) components (including access doors, filter
support cages) adequately grounded? Is bonding and gounding checked
periodically?
Is explosion relief panel(s) (if used) vent to a safe location?
What if there is an ignition occurs in the dust collector?
What if the 'filter support cage' (if used) is not grounded?
What if an ember enters the bags?
What if the filter bag leaks through?
What if the air pulsation stops working?
What if the filter bags plugs to cause higher pressure differential across
the bags?
What if there is too high level of powder in the bottom hopper of the
dust collector?
What if the powder is left in the bottom hopper of the dust collector for
a longer period of time?
What if the explosion relief panel(s) leaks through?

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Hazard Evaluation: What-if/Checklist Method


 Do not use
checklist to
simply provide
Yes/No/Not
Applicable
answers but use
it to identify
potential
concerns of dust
fire/explosion
within the
process being
studied.

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Read item from checklist


Does it apply to the equipment
or operation being reviewed?

No

Does it generate a new question?

No

Document question and go on to


next item

Go to next item

Go to next item

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Hazard Evaluation: Other Methods


 Application could easily become cumbersome
for dust handling operations
 Could confuse the PHA team
 Not effective in ensuring that a process is
designed in accordance with codes and
standards
 Not effective in identifying all gaps in
safeguards
 Well-defined structure can give a false sense
of security but can we include all the
important deviations or failure modes to
uncover all combustible dust concerns?

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Hazard Evaluation: Other Methods


 Consider:
How can we uncover potential for a
secondary dust explosion by application
of HAZOP or FMEA structure?
How can we uncover concerns of dust
flash-fires while charging combustible
powder to vessel by application of
HAZOP or FMEA structure?
How can we uncover risk of static
caused ignition due to any hidden
ungrounded conductive item by
application of HAZOP or FMEA
structure?

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Hazard Evaluation Other Methods


 Lack of good initiating event frequency data for dust
explosion and fire events
 Limits the effectiveness of semi-quantitative risk analysis
(for example ETA or LOPA) and quantitative risk analysis (for
example FTA) for dust-related events

YES

Secondary
Dust Explosion

YES
NO
Ignition?

Combustible
Dust is
Released

Reportable
Environmental
Incident

NO
NO

No dust-related
event

Re-dispersion?
YES
Operator
Controls?
Cleaning

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No dust-related
event

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Qualitative Risk Analysis


 Dust explosions tend to be high
consequence and low frequency
events

 PHA team must be careful


while applying qualitative risk
analysis for dust explosion events

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CONSEQUENCES

 Do not underestimate the


hazard and consider catastrophic
dust explosion events to be not
credible

LIKELIHOOD
LOW

MEDIUM

HIGH

HIGH

MEDIUM

LOW

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Summary
 PHA Team is responsible for identifying, evaluating and
controlling combustible dust hazards; and thus to analyze
and minimize Process Risk
 Always look beyond process equipment
 Involve appropriate skills, knowledge and experience on
combustible dust hazards
 Verify minimum safe venting and levels of dust
accumulation during a field tour
 Review detailed process safety information for:
 Correct interpretation & application of test data
 Use checklist to check compliance with RAGAGEPs

 Use What-if/Checklist methodology for Hazards


Evaluation with emphasis on purpose-built checklists
 Do not underestimate the combustible dust hazards and
consider catastrophic dust explosion events to be
credible when analyzing the risk.
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