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Testing Powders for Combustibility

While there are an increasing number of companies that are aware of the potential for their powder material to provide the fuel for a potentially damaging fire or explosion, there are some who still do not have the proper understanding of the hazards of the material they are using.

That lack of knowledge can result in a potentially costly fire or explosion that can result in injuries, death, or fines.

Testing powdered material is one of the key steps a company can take to understand the hazards of combustible dusts, according to Dr. Vahid Ebadat, chief executive officer for Chilworth Asia Pacific.

Proper evaluation of the hazard of a combustible dust in an operation or process and determination of adequate risk controls is only possible by means of appropriate test data,” said Ebadat.

Ebadat will address the importance of test data and the proper understanding and control of the hazards of combustible dusts in October during his conference session at Powder & Bulk Solids Texas at the NRG Center in Houston. In his session, “Testing to Assess Your Powder’s Fire & Explosion Hazards”, Ebadat will also discuss how to select the necessary laboratory tests - based on the type of operation, processes, and facility.

Find out more about combustible dust testing and powder fire and explosion hazards and more at Powder Show Texas Oct. 13-14, 2015 at the NRG Center in Houston.

Ebadat says users should test their powders but also understand the correct way to test their material. “Data must be validly obtained and appropriate to the situation,” said Ebadat. “We should not accept the validity of information without understanding the validity of the underlying data on which it is based.”

Other factors can also affect the testing of material, including operating conditions, material properties and contaminants, equipment characteristics, and processing sequences. Ebadat says all can impact the validity of data for a specific use.

There are also other issues with powdered materials that can be discovered by testing, other than testing for combustibility. According to Ebadat, certain powders can have toxicity issues, cause certain reactions, and the compatibility of materials with each other and equipment are also areas of concern and is critical to understanding the risks of the material and how to determine the appropriate risk controls.

Ebadat will also speak about the requirements of the recently released NFPA 652 requirements. “NFPA 652 states that the owner/operator of a facility with potentially combustible dusts shall be responsible for determining whether the materials are combustible or explosible,” said Ebadat.

He says that if users are unsure of what material they are using, they should at the very minimum call a consultant such as Chilworth. “Based on some thirty years of testing and consulting experience in this field, I am sure we’ll be able to see if any testing is needed, and if so, what would be the minimum number of tests necessary for the proper understanding and control of the hazards associated with their operation or process.” Ebadat concluded.

Joe Florkowski is the managing editor for Powder & Bulk Solids. He can be reached at [email protected]

For related articles, news, and equipment reviews, visit our Explosion Protection & Safety Equipment Zone

Click here for a List of Explosion Protection & Safety Equipment Manufacturers

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