Current status and expected future trends in dust explosion research R.K. Eckhoff*
Department of Physics and Technology, University of Bergen, Allegaten 55, N-5007 Bergen, Norway ¨ Øresund Safety Advisers AB, Box 82, SE-20120 Malino, Sweden
Abstract In spite of extensive research and development for more than 100 years to prevent and mitigate dust explosions in the process industries, this hazard continues to threaten industries that manufacture, use and/or handle powders and dusts of combustible materials. Lack of methods for predicting real dust cloud structures and ﬂame propagation processes has been a major obstacle to prediction of course and consequences of dust explosions in practice. However, work at developing comprehensive numerical simulation models for solving these problems is now on its way. This requires detailed experimental and theoretical studies of the physics and chemistry of dust cloud generation and combustion. The present paper discusses how this kind of work will promote the development of means for prevention and mitigation of dust explosions in practice. However, progress in other areas will also be discussed, e.g. ignition prevention. The importance of using inherently safe process design, building on knowledge in powder science and technology, and of systematic education/training of personnel, is also emphasized. q 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Keywords: Dust explosions; Dust explosion prevention; Dust explosion mitigation; Dust explosion research
1. Introduction The dust explosion hazard continues to represent a constant threat to process industries that manufacture, use and/or handle powders and dusts of combustible materials. However, substantial advances have been made through extensive research and development world-wide for more than 100 years. Table 1 gives an overview of the most important methods currently used for preventing and mitigating dust explosions in the process industries. In dust explosion prevention and mitigation, as in many other challenges encountered by the process industries, there is an inevitable conﬂict between the short-term needs of the users of knowledge and technology, and the long-term strive for the ‘perfect’ solution. Industry will always need practicable solutions that can be implemented more or less immediately. It cannot wait for the ideal solutions that may become available in some distant future. However, industrial pragmatism must not, on the other hand, block the constant strive for better solutions based on improved basic understanding of the phenomena involved. * Tel.: C55 582858; fax: C55 589440. E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the present paper an attempt will be made at illustrating how research on relevant fundamental phenomena can promote further development of the practical means for preventing and mitigating dust explosions in industry listed in Table 1. The paper is essentially based on the comprehensive review of the state-of-the art in dust explosion research given in Chapter 9 of Eckhoff (2003), comprising about 600 references to works published from 1990 to 2003. In the present condensed summary, only a limited selection of these references is included.
2. The role of fundamental knowledge in assessing and controlling dust explosion hazards in practice. Over the last 20 years there has been a gradual shift in approach in dust explosion prevention and mitigation, from simple dogmatic design methods, towards more sophisticated ones opening up for increased ﬂexibility and tailoring. However, fundamental knowledge is essential for proper understanding of the practical aspects. In recent years the appreciation of the beneﬁts that can be harvested from cross-fertilization between fundamental research and applied research and development has been increasing. Advanced numerical models will play an increasingly...