Combustible Dust Testing

Laboratory testing to quantify dust explosion & reactivity hazards

Flammable Gas & Vapor Testing

Laboratory testing to quantify explosion hazards for vapor and gas mixtures

Chemical Reactivity Testing

Laboratory testing to quantify reactive chemical hazards, including the possibility of material incompatibility, instability, and runaway chemical reactions

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 safety handle the effluent discharge from an overpressure event

Thermal Stability

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

UN-DOT

Classification of hazardous materials subject to shipping and storage regulations

Safety Data Sheets

Develop critical safety data for inclusion in SDS documents

Biological

Model transport of airborne virus aerosols to guide safe operations and ventilation upgrades

Radioactive

Model transport of contamination for source term and leak path factor analysis

Fire Analysis

Model transport of heat and smoke for fire analysis

Flammable or Toxic Gas

transport of flammable or toxic gas during a process upset

OSS consulting, adiabatic & reaction calorimetry and consulting

Onsite safety studies can help identify explosibility and chemical reaction hazards so that appropriate testing, simulations, or calculations are identified to support safe scale up

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Engineering and testing to support safe plant operations and develop solutions to problems in heat transfer, fluid flow, electric power systems

Battery Safety

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

Hydrogen Safety

Testing and consulting on the explosion risks associated with devices and processes which use or produce hydrogen

Spent Fuel

Safety analysis for packaging, transport, and storage of spent nuclear fuel

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Safety analysis to underpin decommissioning process at facilities which have produced or used radioactive nuclear materials

Laboratory Testing & Software Capabilities

Bespoke testing and modeling services to validate analysis of DD&R processes

Nuclear Overview

Our Nuclear Services Group is recognized for comprehensive evaluations to help commercial nuclear power plants operate efficiently and stay compliant.

Severe Accident Analysis and Risk Assessment

Expert analysis of possible risk and consequences from nuclear plant accidents

Thermal Hydraulics

Testing and analysis to ensure that critical equipment will operate under adverse environmental conditions

Environmental Qualification (EQ) and Equipment Survivability (ES)

Testing and analysis to ensure that critical equipment will operate under adverse environmental conditions

Laboratory Testing & Software Capabilities

Testing and modeling services to support resolution of emergent safety issues at a power plant

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 (DSC/ARC supplies, CPA, C80, Super Stirrer)

Products and equipment for the process safety or process development laboratory

FERST

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

FATE

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

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Recent Posts

Managing Combustible Dust & Safety Concerns in Biomass/Wood Pellet Industry

Posted by The Fauske Team on 11.01.13

By Jeff Griffin, Fauske & Associates, LLC

woodpelletsI had the chance to go the USIPA (US Industrial Pellet) conference this week in Miami. Aside from being a great location for a show, it was fascinating to hear how the wood pellet/biomass industry has been growing in the USA and Europe and to hear how companies are ramping up to increase production. Though the Biomass industry is relatively new, this year they had production of 10 MT alone and world demand for wood pellets is supposed to increase more than threefold by 2030.(1) Much of the production to meet this need will be in the US and Canada.

With such rapid growth, there are significant concerns about safety, both for workers and for the processes itself. Several of the speakers referenced how wood pellet production is a ‘new’ art. Unlike the Chemical industry, which has well defined processes and hazard mitigation, the pellet industry is still developing best practices for processing and production of their material. Coming from an engineering firm that specializes in process safety, this caught my attention.

The chemical industry had a series of explosions in the 1960’s that drove innovation to appropriately test new materials and scale up production in a safe way. Fauske & Associates, LLC was one of the leaders of that process, and we developed technology to address process-scale-up concerns. While we continue to be a leader in that field – we have spent the last several years responding to the OSHA Combustible Dust NEP (2) by characterizing the explosive nature of materials through experimentation and providing on-site support to clients with combustible dust issues.

The wood pellet/biomass industry has not been immune to combustible dust concerns. There have been several events in recent years; some recent examples are listed below:

-          2009 – Geneva Wood Fuels LLC for six alleged serious violations of workplace safety standards following an August 2009 explosion at the wood pellet manufacturing plant in Strong, Maine (3)

-          2011 – Dust Explosion at Georgia Biomass due to overheated bearing (4)

-          2012 – BC Dust explosion for beetle-dried wood (5)

-          2013 – OSHA Cites New England wood pellet

Like the chemical industry in the 60’s, the pellet industry is growing rapidly, and with that growth comes safety concerns. The raw materials going into the pellet making process needs to be well understood, and the production process needs to be appropriately assessed to ensure that risks are identified and controlled. Characterizing the hazards inherent to the raw materials and having expert support in assessing the risks associated with the process is essential for developing a sound safety program for pellet facilities.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) provides guidance for handling combustible dusts.  Standards like NFPA 664 guides safe dust handling in wood processing facilities. In addition, AdvancedBiomass.com also has a great summary of standards and mitigation controls. (6) Standards like NFPA 68 guide venting, and 654 guide prevention of fire and dust explosions. A new code, NFPA 652, (7) is currently in development and will be the overarching standard for managing combustible dust. While currently in a draft form, this code will require that facilities handling combustible dust have the following at a minimum:

-          Test data is needed for the materials being processed

-          A Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) needs to be conducted to ensure

-          A dust management program needs to be developed and instituted

Pelletized fuels in a new and exciting area in the Biomass industry that is expanding rapidly.  Rapid growth often coincides with modifying or creating new ways to increase output of existing process equipment to keep up with demand.  These changes in processing will raise new questions about safety that will need to be addressed for the industry to succeed.  Understand the risks present in processing their materials so they can safely scale-up their processes.

Fauske & Associates, LLC is a Chicago-based process safety engineering firm specializing in testing and consulting on material hazards. This includes combustible dust testing and on-site assessments per NFPA Standards.   We have worked with several pellet companies to provide both testing and consulting services.

Sources

1http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/03/biomass-to-more-than-triple

2https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=directives&p_id=3830

3 http://www.reliableplant.com/Read/23313/OSHA-cites-Maine-pellet-mill

4 http://industrialfireprevention.blogspot.com/2011/07/georgia-biomass-explosion.html

5http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/dust-levels-flagged-before-b-c-sawmill-explosion-1.1240810

6http://www.advancedbiomass.com/2013/04/biomass-dust-fire-and-explosion-control/

7http://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standards/document-information-pages?mode=code&code=652

For more information, please contact Jeff Griffin, Fauske & Associates, LLC, at griffin@fauske.com, or 630-887-5278. 

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Topics: Combustible dust, explosibility test, Flammability hazard, Biomass, Wood Pellet, Black Pellet, testing

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