Sugar dust explosion prevention with wet air scrubbers

Sugar dust explosion prevention with wet air scrubbersOver the past several years several sugar dust explosions have happened at sugar producing and storing facilities. One of them is an explosion that happened at the sugar silo at Perfetti Van Melle candy factory in Erlanger, Kentucky. The culprit of the explosion is estimated to be the presence of a critical amount of sugar dust in the air. Sugar dust induces explosions can be very dangerous and cause significant damage to both the facility and personnel: an explosion that happened at the Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, GA in 2008 left 14 people dead and 36 people injured, as well as causing massive damage to the facility itself.

The threat of sugar dust explosion has been dated back as far back as 1925. However, despite the threat of sugar dust combustion being known, the sugar production and storage facilities still do not implement enough safety measures that will prevent the explosions. There are multiple ways of addressing the dangers of sugar dust.  Facilities that handle large amounts of sugar are at high risk of combustible dust becoming airborne during transportation. An ignitable mixture can occur in the process of sugar transportation; the mixture can then transition to an explosion due to the confined space.

There are a number of ways to reduce the amount of sugar dust present in the air:

  • Hazard assessment of the facility must take place; the choice of protective measures should be based on the results of the assessment.
  • The sugar that is being handled at the facility should be tested for combustible characteristics such as Explosion Severity (KSt, Minimum Ignition Energy in a Dust Cloud, Minimum Explosive Concentration), as well as average particle size and moisture content.
  • Employee training should take place to inform workers of possible dangers and ways of preventing them.
  • Possible ignition sources, like static electricity, open flames, welding, smoking, should be controlled.
  • Measures to reduce the amount of sugar dust present in the air should be implemented. Dry sugar dust collectors and wet air scrubbers are among the most popular solutions.

Dry dust collectors are not appropriate for sugar dust as they get clogged easily by sugar. Moreover, dry dust collectors create a perfect environment for the sugar dust combustion, as dust accumulates in high concentrations in an enclosed space. Wet air scrubbers, however, are effective against dust and do not create an environment that poses a threat of sugar dust explosion. However, most wet air scrubbers have a hard time dealing with sugar as it easily clogs the nozzles and renders the scrubber ineffective.

Multi-vortex wet air scrubber is able to process sugar dust without being clogged due to the high speeds of microturbulence vortices that are used to scrub the inlet gas. Tests show that Multi-vortex wet air scrubber is able to handle 250 g. of sugar per 1 liter of water without any issues.

Being a new type of wet air scrubber, Multi-vortex wet air scrubber cleans air from gases, dust, vapors and other admixtures using water or other cleaning liquid. Multi-vortex wet air scrubber produces the cleaning mist differently from other scrubber systems, which results in running costs that are much lower than for a common wet air scrubber. Multi-vortex wet air scrubber is the new type of wet air scrubber that saves water.

If you are interested in Multi-vortex wet air scrubber, please contact us at info@optromix.com

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