Case histories of dust explosions



Three dust explosion incidents that occurred within Monsanto Europe are discussed. The company carries out a wide range of operations involving powdered solids, and the incidents illustrate the range of situations that can cause dust explosions. The design approaches used now, covered by guides such as the NFPA 68 and 69 usually prevent major losses, but there are some lessons to be learned from the three incidents described. The most basic one is that there are so many different ways of igniting flammable dusts that we should never use elimination of ignition sources as the sole method of protection. The other lesson is a very old one: the need to maintain all our equipment and safety systems in operational condition at all times. This is particularly difficult in practice because these systems are not required for day-to-day production, but still must operate effectively when they are needed.