Electrostatic Hazards in Chemical Plant

In this article, I will show you a case study about electrostatic hazards in chemical plant that can cause explosion and fire.

static-electricity-controlElectrostatic or static electricity had triggered an explosion and fire at an Americhem Sales Corp. building, in Midwest, US, two weeks ago. The electrostatic caused a catalytic spark during loading and unloading trailers and ignited about 500 gallons of mineral spirits.

The above preliminary investigation of the accident was published on lansingstatejournal.com.

According to thefreedictionary.com, electrostatic or static electricity is created when two objects that are not good electrical conductors are rubbed together, and electrons from one of the object rub off onto the other.

As an example, electrostatic could happen when catalyst (like nickel, platinum, etc) is charged (fed) from a hopper wagon through pipe line into a reactor. Poor static electricity control will create catalytic spark, which can ignite flammable gas or vapor inside the pipe line or the reactor.

Static Electricity Removal

Now, we have known a little about electrostatic hazards in chemical plant operation. The next question is how do we control static electricity or do static electricity removal?

There are some possible techniques that we can use to control electrostatic hazards. According to my own experience, common electrostatic hazards control method is by wiring a ground circuit.

Electrostatic hazards control is very vital especially when flammable gas or vapor exists. Spark will ignite the flammable gas or vapor immediately. Then explosion and or fire accident could happen.

Remember that static electricity accumulates in parts or areas where the charges can not flow or escape.

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