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 What has to be Present
for a Hazardous Location Dust Explosion?
As we covered earlier, for a fire to be able to burn it needs to have three things present simultaneously: Fuel, Ignition, and Oxygen. Take away any one of these and you cannot have a fire. This is known as the ‘Fire Triangle’, and is commonly used to help avoid industrial fires.

With the Class II & III Hazardous Locations, the discussion focuses on the potential for a combustible dust explosion, and two more elements need to be added to the fire triangle to create the ‘Dust Explosion Pentagon’.

The two new elements are Confinement and Dispersion . These elements are created when the fuel, in this case a combustible dust, exists as a dust cloud within a closed area, such as a factory or warehouse. In the same as with the fire triangle, taking away even one of these elements can remove or reduce the risk of a dust explosion.
A Dust Explosion needs Oxygen to occur, and this explosion element is everywhere. It is inside this bubble, and in the air in every building, unless they have been sealed and emptied of oxygen.
This is what actually triggers a dust explosion. The source of Ignition can be something like a static electricity spark or lit cigarette, or a spark from metal parts striking against each other. Ignition can also be created by hot surfaces near the dust.
Dust (Fuel):
Dust is what ignites and creates an explosion. But for there to be a dust explosion, the dust cannot be down on the ground or on the walls. The dust must be suspended in the air that is providing the oxygen and causing the explosion.
When Dust is spread out in the air, this creates a dust cloud. There are times when a “small” dust explosion occurs and sends shockwaves throughout a building. These shockwaves can knock down dust collected on ceiling rafters, overhead pipes or air circulating ductwork. This second wave of dispersed dust can create a second (larger) explosion almost immediately.
When dust is contained within a closed room, warehouse or factory, it becomes confined or captured. Dust particles can remain suspended in confined air for days, leaving a facility at risk for explosion. Dust explosions are very serious and can have tremendous power.
In Summary, Dust is a different kind of Explosive Hazard. It needs five things present in order to have an explosion.
Bill Nagengast, President and Lighting Engineer, Solas Ray Lighting, holds over 20 patents in the lighting industry.
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