Journal of Loss Prevention in The Process Industries, Vol.19, No.2-3, 104-120, 2006
A few fundamental aspects about ignition and flame propagation in dust clouds
The history of the development of the process industry has been punctuated by a number of hazardous explosions, sometimes very severe. A few of them are still in the memory and certainly contributed to the birth of safety engineering. It has been known for more than one century than combustible dusts suspended in air are responsible for a part of those explosions but contrariwise to gas explosions, the available knowledge and practise seems still contain a significant part of empirism. The work summarised into this paper is an attempt to contribute to a better understanding of the explosion mechanisms of dust clouds. Hopefully, such additional information may help to refine the safety analysis exercise in the future. A specific effort has been devoted to combustion processes in the flame and the results indicate similarities with premixed gaseous flames. Several fundamental questions are addressed such as the incidence of thermal radiation, turbulence,.... This information is important to treat ignition aspects. For spark type of ignition, it is shown that an absolute minimum ignition energy should exist for some dust clouds with a similar meaning than for premixed gaseous flames. For hot surface ignition, the standard ignition temperature (Godbert-Greenwald) seems to be reasonably correlated to the size and critical ignition temperature of the heating body. The possible implications of this new information within the scope of industrial safety are addressed in conclusion. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.