Explosion Protection Technology Advances in Explosion Protection: How Advanced Solutions Open New Doors

Author / Editor: John E. Going *, Roger Bours ** / Marcel Dröttboom

Explosion protection techniques have been undergoing several refinements as a result of the implementation of legislative requirements and innovative product development. The extended use of explosion protection standards and demands from industry resulted in additional products with improved performance.

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Fig. 1: The incredible damage caused by some industrial explosions resulted in a much greater awareness of the consequences.
Fig. 1: The incredible damage caused by some industrial explosions resulted in a much greater awareness of the consequences.
(Picture: Chemical Safety Board)

Advances and changes have been occurring rapidly in all aspects of explosion protection. When selecting advances or changes, several criteria come to mind, i.e., since when have the advances been introduced, what are the base technologies improved and what are the benefits and added values that resulted from the change, and are they worth the cost, complexity, etc? Regarding the time of introduction, no real attempt will be made to place a time limit on the topic. Rather, the limit will be more of the significance of the advance.

New Fuels to Globalisation – What Drives the explosion protection Market?

As prelude, it may also be helpful to recognize some of the causes and driving forces for these advances and changes. Some examples are:

  • new fuels (hydrogen, bio-fuels), hazards (nano-particle technology) or hazardous conditions,
  • continuous drive for efficiency (higher temperature, pressures; operations closer to flammability limits),
  • heightened awareness of explosion hazards and the need for improved safety; cost of downtime, or
  • competition and a globalised market.

The change in hazards has generally lead to more challenging protection requirements, an example being the projected increase in the use of hydrogen as a fuel. Such explosions are notoriously difficult to protect against, yet the increased usage makes this an important and relevant challenge. Nano-particles may represent a new hazard due to the largely unknown effect upon explosibility parameters and the ability to apply protection measures.

The Race for Efficiency Created new Explosion Threats

The continuous drive for increased efficiency can lead to more hazardous operating conditions; higher temperatures and pressures, processes closer to flammability limits, etc. This may create hazard scenarios more difficult than addressed by current standards and protection methodologies.

Recent, well publicized industrial explosions have resulted in a much greater public and corporate awareness of the consequences of an accident. In turn, the demand for protection solutions has driven improvements and additional options.

What then are the technologies and related areas that will be considered? The chart in Fig. 2 shows six areas where advances and changes have been significant.

To provide and develop efficient and safe explosion protection technology, one has to understand the characteristics of explosions - learn more on page 2!