POWTECH WORLD MAGAZINE: There are plenty of safety standards, rules, regulations, and directives for explosion protection that apply both in the EU and worldwide. In your opinion, is the legislation clear enough for explosion venting protection?

TOMAS WYKA: Many standards need to be changed and improved. A typical example is the flameless explosion venting device specified in the European standard EN 16 009, which specifies requirements for the construction, testing, verification, and use of these devices. On the market, we can also spot equipment that appears to be a flameless venting device but is certified, for example, according to EN 14797. You have to realise that if we are talking about a device for flameless explosion venting, we can’t confuse it with equipment certified according to EN 14797, which purpose is for ordinary explosion relief. It does not work as a device that reduces a flame or temperature. Venting devices certified this way are unreliable and cannot provide the required safety. Therefore, the EN16009 standard must abide for proper testing and the following use.

PWM: In what way do you think should be the standards specifying flameless devices improved to ensure a higher level of these regulations?

TW: At RSBP, we have been conducting our research in this area for a long time. We have a team of people who specialize exclusively in this issue. We have carried out hundreds of explosion tests with a wide range of types of combustible dust that we can encounter in the industry. We have verified the results of our research in several worldwide independent testing laboratories. Through this intensive research, we have concluded that standard EN16009 is, according to us benevolent, I dare say that there is a lack of a precise testing methodology and absence of clearly defined rules for subsequent application.

PWM: What are you doing to modify these standards?

TW: The aim is to thoroughly examine the whole issue and incorporate the findings into the new wording of the norm. I am currently leading a working group AHG EN 16009 that aims to amend this regulation. These standards set the level of safety in the workplace, so it is necessary to take them very seriously. Therefore, we deal with this issue in detail. We want to eliminate as many shortcomings as possible in the new version of the norm. Everyone has only one life, and our job is to ensure that everyone has the best kind of protection at their disposal.

PWM: Were there any findings or test results that surprised you while conducting the research?

TW: Everyone who tests metal dust knows that they have enormous energy. It is generally known and taken into consideration. But think of sugar, for example. Sugar dust, compared to light metal dust, has a lower KSt, but can be even more dangerous and so we should be more careful. Why? Due to the high-temperature sugar caramelizes creates a sticky mass and thus can affect the efficiency and functionality of the flameless venting device. It is necessary to carry out thorough explosion tests with metals and different forms of sugar separately to precisely define the effectiveness of the flameless explosion venting device. Otherwise, the efficiency and functionality of these devices cannot be taken seriously for this type of material. I would recommend users to ask their suppliers if they have conducted such tests at all and what kind of material.

PWM: Are there other aspects of flameless explosion venting devices that may alter its function and should be taken into consideration when selecting a proper device?

TW: Yes, for example, values MIE and MIT, i.e. minimum ignition energy and minimum ignition temperature. I’ll give you an example to think about. Most manufacturers test with corn starch that has a higher MIE. However, such tested and certified equipment cannot be used to vent dust with a lower MIE value. For example, it cannot be used in chemical plants processing toners because it has a lower MIE value. So, in this case, the installed flameless venting devices are useless and dangerous. And with the MIT parameter, it is the same situation. Disregard to take explosion parameters into account can have fatal consequences.

PWM: Can you think of any other essential limitations related to flameless explosion venting device applications?

TW: The volume of the protected vessel must also be taken into account. The EN 16009 standard defines that protected capacity can be a maximum four times of the largest volume that can be protected by one single flameless venting device. Let’s show it in a real situation. A flameless explosion venting device is tested for a volume of 1 cubic meter. If a single flameless device is not sufficient to protect an enclosure, multiple flameless devices of the same type can be used. But the protected volume shall be maximum four times of the tested capacity of a single device. Our tests have shown that just a 10% increase in the protected capacity of the flameless device decides the functionality or malfunction of the flameless explosion venting device.

PWM: What should people look out for when choosing this type of explosion venting device?

TW: I would say the way a flameless device was tested and what is its actual use in practice. If the device is not tested enough for a flameless explosion venting, then we cannot consider it as safe. It is the exact opposite such flameless device can be dangerous. A subsequent secondary explosion can occur, or we can see a flame burst or there can be an increase in pressure. Not every type of combustible dust reacts in the same way. Let us not try to reduce and underestimate security, on the contrary. The values in the certificate may look great, but the device may not provide sufficient protection. Our goal is to tighten the standard and ensure the real protection of equipment and workers. With an emphasis on rigor, we test all our products, which we then launch on the market. Our solution has already protected countless technologies, from energy to food, chemical, and other industries.