Combustible Dust Testing

Laboratory testing to quantify dust explosion and reactivity hazards

Safety Data Sheets

Develop critical safety data for inclusion in SDS documents

Gas and Vapor

Laboratory testing to quantify explosion hazards for vapor and gas mixtures

Classification of hazardous materials subject to shipping and storage regulations
Testing and consulting on the explosion risks associated with devices and processes which use or produce hydrogen
Safety Data Sheets

Develop critical safety data for inclusion in SDS documents

Thermal Stability

Safe storage or processing requires an understanding of the possible hazards associated with sensitivity to variations in temperature

Adiabatic Calorimetry
Data demonstrate the consequences of process upsets, such as failed equipment or improper procedures, and guide mitigation strategies including Emergency Relief System (ERS) design
Reaction Calorimetry
Data yield heat and gas removal requirements to control the desired process chemistry
Battery Safety

Testing to support safe design of batteries and electrical power backup facilities particularly to satisfy UL9540a ed.4

Safety Data Sheets

Develop critical safety data for inclusion in SDS documents

Cable Testing
Evaluate electrical cables to demonstrate reliability and identify defects or degradation
Equipment Qualification (EQ)
Testing and analysis to ensure that critical equipment will operate under adverse environmental conditions
Water Hammer
Analysis and testing to identify and prevent unwanted hydraulic pressure transients in process piping
Acoustic Vibration
Identify and eliminate potential sources of unwanted vibration in piping and structural systems
Gas & Air Intrusion
Analysis and testing to identify and prevent intrusion of gas or air in piping systems
ISO/IEC 17025:2017

Fauske & Associates fulfills the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025:2017 in the field of Testing

ISO 9001:2015
Fauske & Associates fulfills the requirements of ISO 9001:2015
Dust Hazards Analysis
Evaluate your process to identify combustible dust hazards and perform dust explosion testing
On-Site Risk Management
On-site safety studies can help identify explosibility and chemical reaction hazards so that appropriate testing, simulations, or calculations are identified to support safe scale up
DIERS Methodology
Design emergency pressure relief systems to mitigate the consequences of unwanted chemical reactivity and account for two-phase flow using the right tools and methods
Deflagrations (Dust/Vapor/Gas)

Properly size pressure relief vents to protect your processes from dust, vapor, and gas explosions

Effluent Handling

Pressure relief sizing is just the first step and it is critical to safely handle the effluent discharge from an overpressure event

FATE™ & Facility Modeling

FATE (Facility Flow, Aerosol, Thermal, and Explosion) is a flexible, fast-running code developed and maintained by Fauske and Associates under an ASME NQA-1 compliant QA program.

Mechanical, Piping, and Electrical
Engineering and testing to support safe plant operations and develop solutions to problems in heat transfer, fluid, flow, and electric power systems
Hydrogen Safety
Testing and consulting on the explosion risks associated with devices and processes which use or produce hydrogen
Thermal Hydraulics
Testing and analysis to ensure that critical equipment will operate under adverse environmental conditions
Nuclear Safety
Our Nuclear Services Group is recognized for comprehensive evaluations to help commercial nuclear power plants operate efficiently and stay compliant
Radioactive Waste
Safety analysis to underpin decomissioning process at facilities which have produced or used radioactive nuclear materials
Adiabatic Safety Calorimeters (ARSST and VSP2)

Low thermal inertial adiabatic calorimeters specially designed to provide directly scalable data that are critical to safe process design

Other Lab Equipment and Parts for the DSC/ARC/ARSST/VSP2 Calorimeters

Products and equipment for the process safety or process development laboratory


Software for emergency relief system design to ensure safe processing of reactive chemicals, including consideration of two-phase flow and runaway chemical reactions


Facility modeling software mechanistically tracks transport of heat, gasses, vapors, and aerosols for safety analysis of multi-room facilities


Our highly experienced team keeps you up-to-date on the latest process safety developments.

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With over 40 years of industry expertise, we have a wealth of process safety knowledge to share.

Recent Posts

Combustible Dust and Flash Fire Lessons: Taiwan Water Park Fire

Posted by Fauske & Associates on 07.08.15

By Jeff Griffin, Fauske & Associates

For those in industry, the dangers of combustible/hazardous dust have been increasingly high-profile. Leadership at the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has spoken recently about the importance of adopting a consensus standard so that there is a more uniform approach to combustible dust safety.

Last week’s terrible accident in Taiwan illustrates that there is still a real lack of understanding about the dangers of dust explosions. The BBC reports that “a coloured powder ignited when it was dispersed into the crowd.”[i] More than 500 people were injured because the powder was ignited by something as simple as a cigarette. While this event was serious – it was not a combustible/hazardous dust explosion.  It was a flash fire. This blog defines how dust can manifest as an explosion hazard or in a flash fire, and then identifies two key steps necessary to prevent both.

Understanding Confinement and Combustible Dust

Dust_Pentagon-1Many people are familiar with the explosion pentagon, which illustrates the five factors needed to have a combustible dust explosion, namely, fuel, ignition, dispersion, confinement, and oxygen. However, oftentimes, the dangers of  dust explosions are not considered because people presume that a lack of confinement means that they are safe. This is just not true. A lack of confinement of a dust means that the explosive pressure generated by a material dissipates to the environment. This is good for preventing an explosion event, but it is still possible for a flash fire to occur even if there is no containment. 

What is a Flash Fire?

Short Definition: The rapid burning of a material that is suspended in air. This could be a dust, a gas, a vapor, or a mixture of any one of these materials (we will discuss the danger of mixed or ‘hybrid’ systems later in this post). These types of incidents are quite common because they can happen with even very small amounts of material. This means that the injuries resulting from these events are often not as serious – and may not be reported in statistics. The Taiwan incident is a great example of how dangerous they can be. Another example occurred in the US in 2012. 

Example: US Ink

The Taiwan incident is not the first time a colored powder has ignited in a combustible cloud. One notable example is the US Ink incident in 2012.[ii] In this case, it injured seven workers. While there wasn’t an explosion, the event was sufficient enough to warrant an investigation by the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) and for OSHA to fine the company nearly $221k.  This event illustrates two key steps before handling combustible/hazardous dusts, and offers an important lesson about hybrid systems.

Step 1: Know your Dust

When dealing with any type of organic or metal dust, it is important to know whether or not it is combustible. Without test data about the specific material in your facility, it is hard to know what risks you are facing. In some cases, published literature is available about some materials. While this information may be a helpful guide, it is not sufficient to understand the risk or to be used for engineering purposes. The whole point of NFPA 652, the proposed new Standard on Combustible Dusts,[iii] is to provide for a unified approach to managing dusts, from the testing phase to implementing safety protocols. After testing your dust to know the characteristics, the next step is controlling ignition sources to prevent those conditions from happening.

Step 2: Controlling Ignition Sources

If a dust is combustible, it is important to control potential ignition sources. This event illustrates a concept that I was just teaching about during an on-site visit to a customer site. This particular facility had excellent housekeeping procedures, and dust collection equipment to prevent accumulation in the facility. However, there were several operations where material was being dumped into bags, or where the material had the potential to be suspended in air if a barrel was accidently dropped. While this facility was clean – there were still ignition sources present – including open electrical outlets and equipment that was not appropriately bonded and grounded (for more information on bonding and grounding, see our upcoming  post in July 2015). The testing results indicated that several materials being handled had low Minimum Ignition Energies (MIE’s). Even though there were some engineering controls in place, they were not sufficient to prevent a spark that could ignite the dust. Given the right conditions, these materials could be easily ignited, just like the dust in the Taiwan disaster.

Final Lesson:  The Danger of Hybrid Systems  

Copy_of_MIE_comparison_2-2A final lesson from the Taiwan event concerns the danger of hybrid systems. Reports of the fire suggested that the dust was suspended in air along with a petroleum-based gas from a fog machine. If this is true, the combination could have impacted the ignition level needed to set off the suspended dust. Our experts have seen this behavior in both the lab and in the field. Sometimes, a process has operated safely for many years because it is only a vapor or powder system. Then, some accident or process change results in the two materials being suspended together. This results in a hybrid system, which requires much less energy to ignite than the dust material by itself. This is illustrated in Figure 2 (please note that these values are given as examples only). 


The event in Taiwan is a sobering reminder of the dangers that exist when handling any type of organic dust. While nearly every industry has been impacted in some way by combustible/hazardous dust, accidents are still occuring. Moving forward, it is important to recognize the fire and explosion hazards associated with dusts. The best way to do this is to take the steps prescribed by the NFPA and other regulatory organizations. Only by testing and understanding the characteristics of a dust can you effectively take steps to control the risks.

Jeff Griffin is the Director of Sales and Business Development for Fauske & Associates. His work brings him on-site to facilities in North America. He works with an expert team of consultants who provide on-site support to assess the risks associated with combustible/hazardous dusts. These experts sit on several key NFPA committees.  Fauske & Associate also has one of the premier labs for dust and flammability testing in North America. Contact Jeff at, 630-887-5278




Topics: Combustible Dust, Flammability


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