An Introduction to Dust Explosions

An Introduction to Dust Explosions

Understanding the Myths and Realities of Dust Explosions for a Safer Workplace

1st Edition - May 14, 2013

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  • Author: Paul Amyotte
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123972637
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780123970077

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Preventable dust explosions continue to occur in industry in spite of significant research and practice efforts worldwide over many years. There is a need for effective understanding of the unique hazards posed by combustible dust. This book describes a number of dust explosion myths – which together cover the main source of dust explosion hazards – the reasons they exist and the corresponding scientific and engineering facts that mitigate these circumstances. An Introduction to Dust Explosions describes the main erroneous beliefs about the origin and propagation of dust explosions. It offers fact-based explanations for their occurrence and the impact of such events and provides a critical guide to managing and mitigating dust explosion risks.

Key Features

  • Designed to prevent accidents, injury, loss of life and capital damage
  • An easy-to-read, scientifically rigorous treatment of the facts and fictions of dust explosions for those who need to – or ought to – understand dust explosions, their occurrence and consequences
  • Enables the management and mitigation of these critical industrial hazards


Process Engineers, Safety Engineers, Chemical Engineers, Mechanical Engineers in the Process Industries, Managers in the Process Industries, Safety Consultants.

Table of Contents

  • Dedication



    Chapter 1. Introduction: Dust Explosions—Myth or Reality?

    1.1 Explosion Pentagon

    1.2 Dust Explosion Myths

    1.3 Why this Book?

    1.4 What do You Think?


    Chapter 2. Myth No. 1 (Fuel): Dust Does Not Explode

    2.1 Dust Definition

    2.2 Determination of Dust Explosibility

    2.3 An Explosible Non-Explosible Dust

    2.4 Reality

    2.5 What do You Think?


    Chapter 3. Myth No. 2 (Fuel): Dust Explosions Happen Only in Coal Mines and Grain Elevators

    3.1 Cyclical Interest in an Ever-Present Problem

    3.2 Magnitude of the Problem

    3.3 Reality

    3.4 What do You Think?


    Chapter 4. Myth No. 3 (Fuel): A Lot of Dust Is Needed to Have an Explosion

    4.1 Guidance from Physics and Chemistry

    4.2 Practical Guidance

    4.3 Housekeeping

    4.4 Reality

    4.5 What do You Think?


    Chapter 5. Myth No. 4 (Fuel): Gas Explosions Are Much Worse Than Dust Explosions

    5.1 Hazard and Risk

    5.2 Example: Likelihood of Occurrence and Prevention

    5.3 Example: Severity of Consequences and Mitigation

    5.4 Hybrid Mixtures

    5.5 Reality

    5.6 What do you Think?


    Chapter 6. Myth No. 5 (Fuel): It’s Up to the Testing Lab to Specify Which Particle Size to Test

    6.1 Role of Particle Size Distribution

    6.2 Particle Size Effects on Explosibility Parameters

    6.3 A Cooperative Endeavor

    6.4 Reality

    6.5 What do You Think?


    Chapter 7. Myth No. 6 (Fuel/Ignition Source): Any Amount of Suppressant Is Better Than None

    7.1 Inerting and Suppression

    7.2 Minimum Inerting Concentration

    7.3 Suppressant Enhanced Explosion Parameter

    7.4 Thermal Inhibitors

    7.5 Reality

    7.6 What do you Think?


    Chapter 8. Myth No. 7 (Ignition Source): Dusts Ignite Only with a High-Energy Ignition Source

    8.1 Industrial Ignition Sources

    8.2 Standardized Dust Explosibility Testing

    8.3 Dust Cloud Ignition by Low-Energy Sources

    8.4 Reality

    8.5 What do you Think?


    Chapter 9. Myth No. 8 (Ignition Source): Only Dust Clouds—Not Dust Layers—Will Ignite

    9.1 Dust Layer Ignition

    9.2 Dust Layer Fires

    9.3 Reality

    9.4 What do you Think?


    Chapter 10. Myth No. 9 (Oxidant): Oxygen Removal Must Be Complete to Be Effective

    10.1 Limiting Oxygen Concentration

    10.2 Candidate Inert Gases

    10.3 Reality

    10.4 What do you Think?


    Chapter 11. Myth No. 10 (Oxidant): Taking Away the Oxygen Makes Things Safe

    11.1 Nothing is Safe

    11.2 Introduction of New Hazards

    11.3 Management of Change

    11.4 Reality

    11.5 What do you Think?


    Chapter 12. Myth No. 11 (Mixing): There’s No Problem If Dust Is Not Visible in the Air

    12.1 Primary and Secondary Dust Explosions

    12.2 Domino Effects

    12.3 Reality

    12.4 What do you Think?


    Chapter 13. Myth No. 12 (Mixing): Once Airborne, a Dust Will Quickly Settle out of Suspension

    13.1 Dustiness

    13.2 Preferential Lifting

    13.3 Nano-Materials

    13.4 Flocculent Materials

    13.5 Reality

    13.6 What do you Think?


    Chapter 14. Myth No. 13 (Mixing): Mixing Is Mixing; There Are No Degrees

    14.1 Turbulence

    14.2 Influence of Turbulence

    14.3 Concentration Gradients

    14.4 Reality

    14.5 What do you Think?


    Chapter 15. Myth No. 14 (Confinement): Venting Is the Only/Best Solution to the Dust Explosion Problem

    15.1 Inherently Safer Design

    15.2 Hierarchy of Controls

    15.3 Dust Explosion Prevention and Mitigation Measures

    15.4 Reality

    15.5 What do you Think?


    Chapter 16. Myth No. 15 (Confinement): Total Confinement Is Required to Have an Explosion

    16.1 Degree of Confinement

    16.2 Explosion Relief Venting

    16.3 Reality

    16.4 What do you Think?


    Chapter 17. Myth No. 16 (Confinement): Confinement Means Four Walls, a Roof, and a Floor

    17.1 Congestion and Obstacle-Generated Turbulence

    17.2 Temporary Enclosures

    17.3 Reality

    17.4 What do you Think?


    Chapter 18. Myth No. 17 (Pentagon): The Vocabulary of Dust Explosions Is Difficult to Understand

    18.1 Dust Explosion Terminology

    18.2 Gas Explosion Analogies

    18.3 Right to Know

    18.4 Reality

    18.5 What do you Think?


    Chapter 19. Myth No. 18 (Pentagon): Dust Explosion Parameters Are Fundamental Material Properties

    19.1 A Quiescent Dust Cloud—The (Nearly) Impossible Dream

    19.2 The Mystical KSt Parameter

    19.3 Standardized Dust Explosibility Testing (Revisited)

    19.4 Reality

    19.5 What do you Think?


    Chapter 20. Myth No. 19 (Pentagon): It Makes Sense to Combine Explosion Parameters in a Single Index

    20.1 USBM Indices

    20.2 Assessment and Management of Dust Explosion Risks

    20.3 Material Safety Data Sheets

    20.4 Reality

    20.5 What do you Think?


    Chapter 21. Myth No. 20 (Pentagon): It Won’t Happen to Me

    21.1 Safety Culture

    21.2 Safety Management Systems

    21.3 Westray Coal Mine Explosion

    21.4 Reality

    21.5 What do you Think?


    Chapter 22. Conclusion: Dust Explosion Realities

    22.1 Myths and Corresponding Realities

    22.2 What do you Think?



Product details

  • No. of pages: 280
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Butterworth-Heinemann 2013
  • Published: May 14, 2013
  • Imprint: Butterworth-Heinemann
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123972637
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780123970077

About the Author

Paul Amyotte

Paul Amyotte
Paul Amyotte is a Distinguished Research Professor and Professor of Chemical Engineering at Dalhousie University (Halifax, Canada). He is a chemical engineering graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada (Bachelor’s), Queen’s University (Master’s), the Technical University of Nova Scotia (PhD) and a registered professional engineer in Nova Scotia. Dr. Amyotte is a member and past president of Canadian Society of Chemical Engineering, a member of American Institute of Chemical Engineers, a Fellow of Chemical Institute of Canada, the Engineering Institute of Canada, Canadian Academy of Engineering, Engineers Canada, and the Canadian Academy of Engineering. Dr. Amyotte has an extensive record of authorship, with six books, several book chapters, and over 350 papers published in peer-reviewed journals or presented at national and international conferences. He has presented invited plenary lectures at symposia in Canada, France, Italy, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Qatar, Taiwan, and the United States. He is the current editor of the Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, and a past president of the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering, Engineers Nova Scotia, and Engineers Canada. He has also served as chair of the Canadian Engineering Qualifications Board, member of the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board, and co-chair of the Materials and Chemical Engineering Evaluation Group of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Dr. Amyotte has consulted on numerous industrial projects involving hazard analysis, incident investigation, and material explosibility. Dr. Amyotte is a recipient of distinct awards including Cybulski Medal from the Polish Academy of Sciences, the Trevor Kletz Merit Award from the Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center, and the Process Safety Management Award from the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering.

Affiliations and Expertise

Dalhousie University Halifax B3H 4R2 Canada

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