Until the horrific combustible dust explosion at Imperial Sugar Refinery over two months ago, most of the nation had no idea that seemingly harmless coffee creamer and sugar poured into a cup of coffee jump starting us with a morning java jolt could also create another type of jolt, yet devastating . Many of the same food products found on the aisles of the local grocery store have the explosive power of gunpowder when suspended and ignited in a confined space such as a manufacturing facility.
Information gathered from OSHA's National Emphasis Program on combustible dust in conjunction with the Chemical Safety Boards Combustible Dust Study provides a conservative glimpse of over 100,000 firms in the United States that utilize raw combustible particulate solids of wood, rubber, plastic, metals, food, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals, which could generate explosive atmospheres. When the manufacturing process begins, combustible dusts are generated. Military and police forces use the same physics of a dust explosion in fuel-air bombs that generate controlled dust explosions.
The United States military has been very successful with fuel-air thermobaric bombs hitting the enemy caves in Afghanistan with the Hellfire missile. Police SWAT teams also have an application for controlled combustible dust explosions with flash-bang grenades that utilize a mixture of aluminum and potassium perchlorate dust. Yes, this is the same dust thats caused many combustible dust explosions and fires in the metal and chemical process manufacturing industries over the past several decades.
Combustible dusts are commonplace occurrence in our daily lives; in the packages on the grocery store aisles, military arsenals, community police tactical equipment, in addition to the manufacturing process. Once an awareness of combustible dust is acknowledged, then the proper mitigative and preventative measure can be instituted. Just don't go hiding in any caves or get the SWAT teams upset, theres no mitigation there.