Minimize risk when purchasing, commissioning and operating milling and sizing equipment.
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How safe an ATEX-marked mill is, should never have to be questioned. With the guidance and certification from a European Ex-notified body, powder size-reduction equipment manufacturers can address certain ignition sources – like mechanical sparks in mills – and clearly outline Special Conditions of Use to ensure a safe engineered solution is supplied when milling powders.
The ATEX directive is 100% geared towards the avoidance of a dust or gas-based fire or explosion – potentially putting operators, equipment, and facilities at risk.
The “ATEX Directive” is comprised of two European Directives: 99/92/EC, known as the “ATEX - Worker Protection” Directive and the new 2014/34/EU Directive, known as the “ATEX - Equipment” Directive.
The ATEX “Worker Protection” Directive is directed at the equipment Owner. Under Article 4, the equipment Owner is obligated to assess explosion risks in their facility. This includes conducting a hazardous area classification also known as “Zoning” (see Table 1).
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The first step to reducing the risk of a dust explosion in any milling operation is to identify all potential ignition sources; then determine if each ignition source is likely to be present during “normal” operation, during an “expected” malfunction or during a “rare” malfunction; and finally, identify the measures taken to prevent the potential ignition source from becoming effective.
In the case of a mill, there are four potential types of ignition sources: electrostatic discharges; hot surfaces; mechanical sparks; and electrical sparks.
|Zone||Zone Definition||Equipment Category||Protection Level
|Gas (G)||Dust (D)||Gas (G)||Dust (D)|
|2||22||Explosive atmosphere not likely to occur in normal operation, but if it does occur, will persist for a short period only||3G||3D||None||Manufacturer’s Declaration|
|1||21||Explosive atmosphere likely to occur in normal operation occasionally||2G||2D||Low
|0||20||Explosive atmosphere likely to occur in normal operation occasionally||1G||1D||Medium
The ATEX Directive was introduced to ensure the safety of operators and equipment. Even if the likelihood of an explosion within a mill is remote, the potential for one is still present.
It is the paramount responsibility of any ATEX mill manufacturer to supply safely designed equipment, clearly communicate all Special Conditions of Use (Restrictions of Usage), residual risks, and warnings to not compromise operator or facility safety.
It is the responsibility of the equipment Owner to understand the ignition sensitivity of their powders; inert or PSR design the mill If necessary; scrutinize all the Special Conditions of Use and warnings and train the users how to safely operate and maintain the equipment.
You should always ask your mill supplier if there is any doubt about the engineered solutions they offer with ATEX-rated mills. This is in your best interest.
Investigate, question, and challenge your mill vendor, and in combination with the steps outlined in this article, it will help to greatly minimize the risk of an explosion when acquiring, commissioning, and operating a mill for combustible powders – ensuring your ATEX mill is safe!
Our ATEX Approved Milling and Sizing Equipment is used globally by manufacturers of all sizes in the food, nutraceutical, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries.
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