Spotlight - Custom Fire and Explosion Protection

CV Technology prides itself on tailor-made dust explosion and fire protection solutions.
By Biomass Magazine | August 27, 2020

One of the most common oversights in the biomass energy industry is failure to distinguish fire and explosion scenarios from one another. Thus, protection against only one or the other is deployed in at-risk process areas, rather than both. “In many process areas where material is conveyed, we often see only spark detection or explosion venting, but these systems should really be used in conjunction with each other,” says Jason Krbec, sales engineering manager of CV Technology. “A spark detection system is meant to lower the likelihood or frequency of an explosion of fire occurring but can also protect against a fire, whereas an explosion vent is really just for explosion protection. A combination of both will achieve the level of safety you need.”

Krbec serves on several NFPA technical committees for combustible dust and is a 10-year veteran at CV Technology. The company specializes in complete explosion and fire protection solutions for facilities manufacturing and handling dry bulk materials, with a slate of offerings including explosion venting, flameless venting, chemical suppression, explosion isolation, spark detection and more.

CV Technology prides itself on tailor-made dust explosion and fire protection solutions, as proper strategies are unique to each factory, process and company, Krbec points out. For biomass and bioenergy facilities, a dust hazard analysis (DHA) is extremely valuable in learning about a facility’s risks and what’s needed to adequately protect assets and employees, he says. OSHA’s September 2020 deadline for biomass and bioenergy facility DHAs is looming. Rather than looking at it as meeting a regulatory requirement, Krbec recommends facilities use the document as a tool for plant personnel to use to educate themselves of the potential risks at their individual facility. “It’s not uncommon to realize there are areas of the plant at risk that weren't considered before,” Krbec says. “Something as simple as maintenance work may change once it’s understood there’s a hazard in that piece of equipment—for example, properly cleaning out a piece of equipment before doing any welding.”

Dust explosions and fires aren’t uncommon at biomass plants, Krbec points out, but the right protection equipment can make a world of difference in reducing risk and changing the outcome of a fire or explosion event. “Typically, the No. 1 hazard we see are in particle size reduction areas—for example, the hammermill system and what’s downstream,” he says. “That layered approach of spark detection and explosion protection in these areas is how an acceptable level of safety is achieved.”

Infrared spark detection is a big advantage, according to Krbec. “While ultraviolet spark detection systems on hammer mills can see light and sparks, they can’t detect the really low-energy particles that may pose a threat. Infrared technology is a game-changer in those areas when used in combination with explosion protection.”

 The NFPA standards are documents that the biomass industry can use for guidance on combustible wood dust, but that may not be clear as there aren’t a lot of biomass- or bioenergy-specific requirements in them. At least, not quite yet, Krbec adds. “That is currently being worked on, and as it changes, the safety and awareness level for the biomass industry should improve.”