By Cameron Chai
According to a research study reported in Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, a journal of the American Chemical Society, dust formed during manufacturing of nanomaterials has more chance to get exploded when compared to dust from cornstarch, wheat flour and any other usual dust explosion hazards.
The research team comprising Paul Amyotte and his colleagues informed that dust explosions are still a threat at facilities processing fine particles of different materials. Despite meaningful research, information about dust explosion threats in industry is inadequate, especially for non-traditional dusts such as those generated during nanomaterial processing.
For this purpose, Paul Amyotte’s team decided to investigate the explosibility of three kinds of non-traditional dusts. First one is dusts of nanomaterials made of metals like aluminum, second one is dusts of flocculent (fuzzy or fibrous) materials utilized in several products and third one is a hybrid mixture of a flammable vapor or gas and a dust.
The research team discovered that aluminum nanomaterials needed below 1 mJ of energy for explosion, a value below one-thirtieth of the energy needed to set sugar dust aflame or below one-sixtieth of the energy needed to ignite wheat dust. It also noted that flocking is frequently formed with a process that produces static electricity, which may cause the flocculent dust to get exploded. Moreover, the chance of a dust explosion is increased when a flammable vapor or gas is added to a dust as a hybrid mixture.
The team warns that safety measures have to be taken to avoid these materials to get exposed to friction, collisions or sparks, which may lead to an explosion.