In order to check whether the EU and Polish law requirements related to the explosion safety are met in the analysed plant areas, one of the producers of rapeseed oil for technical purposes commissioned ATEX specialists to perform the Explosion Risk Assessment. The oil produced is sold only as a component for the production of biofuels to the largest customers in Poland and abroad.
Selected areas of the Vegetable Oils Plant were evaluated, i.e. the rapeseed reception and storage centre and the rape oil meal (production) acceptance, storage and unloading centre.
On the basis of the collected explosion parameter values, it was found that the dust from the rape seeds and the dust from rape extracted meal can create explosive atmosphere in a mixture with air. Oil meal dust and grain dust are characterized by an average explosion dynamics (Kst = 31 m·s-1) and a high value of the maximum explosion pressure (Pmax = 6.8 bar), which means that the lack of appropriate safeguards (aimed at protecting the apparatus and process centres) against a potential explosion may lead to serious consequences in the analysed facility area in the case of such an event.
One should also notice the low minimum ignition energy for the oil meal dust, which means that the dust contained in oil meal is easily flammable. It can be lighted up even from an electrostatic discharge flashover. However, the explosive hazard depends on not only on the value of explosion parameters, but also on the temporary dust content in the air and the extent of the dust granulation. Oil meal dusts are light and tend to float in the air. The situation is additionally complicated by the fact that the values of the parameters analysed are changeable over time and depend on, for example, weather conditions.
This also means that the potential risk of explosion is variable in time and dependent not only on the amount of dust produced, both in the form of clouds or sedentary layers. In view of the above, the author of the study recommended testing of the actual parameters of flammability and explosiveness of the dust present in the plant.
The assessment conducted made it possible to identify the activities that can improve the explosion safety in the area of the installation analysed.