Thursday, January 22, 2009

Industry Leader Mitigates Dust Explosion

Badger State Ethanol an industry leader provides an excellent example how best engineering practices in reducing the severity of dust explosions can be utilized in preserving life safety, structural integrity, and mission continuity following the recent combustible dust related fire and explosion at it's Monroe, Wisconsin ethanol plant.

An excellent news report by Cara Spoto of the Freeport, Illinois Journal Standard describes how a fire originating in the dryer after a dust explosion spread to the ductwork. Firefighters from surrounding communities successfully battled the blaze in subfreezing weather and damage was kept to a minimum according to General Manager Gary Kramer.

The most interesting and educational aspect of the story, is mention that explosion ventilation panels successfully reduced the severity of the incident. Additional information on best engineering practices in preventing and mitigating combustible dust related fires and explosions in dryers can be found in the NFPA 86 Ovens and Furnace Standard and NFPA 61: Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Dust Explosions in Agricultural and Food Processing Facilities,

Over the past year, through media accounts, there's been over a dozen combustible dust related fires and explosions in the nation's 172 operating ethanol plants. The Combustible Dust Policy Institute has found that over 50% of these incidents have occurred in the dryer. The United State is not alone where combustible dust related fires and explosion are occuring at ethanol plants. Last month, at Manildra, Australia's largest ethanol distillery in New South Wales experienced a dust explosion in the dryer that also was successfully mitigated with explosion ventilation panels.

According to the excellent text, Handbook of Industrial Drying 3rd edition, edited by Arun S.Mujumdar, data has indicated that the accident rates concerning dryer fires and explosions is prevalent on a global basis. It's only when proactive preventative and mitigative measures are implemented as outlined in the National Fire Protection Association combustible dust standards that the probability and severity of the occurrence is substantially reduced.

For additional information on identifying, evaluating, and controlling the risk from combustible dust related fires and explosions throughout industry, be sure to attend the Combustible Dust Hazard Awareness workshop at the 4th Annual Industrial Fire, Safety, and Security conference (IFSS 2009), Feb. 3-6 2009 at the Reliant Center (next to the Astrodome) in Houston, Texas. Call (832) 242-1969 for additional information.

 

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