Dust explosions in the process industries have recently been highlighted due to a number of high profile incidents. These explosions can be very powerful and destructive, and the lack of awareness of the hazards is often cited as a root cause in incident investigations. Although specific test data about some widely handled dusts have been compiled in some references, the availability for most materials handled in the pharmaceutical industry is less common. Pharmaceutical powders are chemically rich for combustion, but quantities available for testing are often limited. This work summarizes some of the historical dust explosion data from samples tested at Abbott. Observations of this data provide insight into the explosion behavior of pharmaceutical dusts, provide a basis for equipment design and operational practices, and provide a data-driven basis for highlighting awareness of dust explosion hazards in facilities that work with these materials. Although data collections such as this do not avoid the need to identify the explosive properties of any individual dust, this work demonstrates that viewing group trends and distributions can provide value from these expensive tests beyond the scope of an individual product.
The aim of this work is to present data that has been collected at the Abbott Process Safety Laboratory over years to explore what “typical” dust explosivity properties for the types of pharmaceuticals and nutritional product powders that are normally handled in research and manufacturing. © 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Process Saf Prog, 2012