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Area Classification

Area Classification

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Published by: mihirddakwala on Nov 10, 2009
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Area Classification and Selection of Electrical EquipmentsBy R.K.Sinha, DGM (Electrical),ONGC Ltd.,MumbaiMumbai High AssetINTRODUCTION
In most of the industrial plants such as Chemical plants, Refineries, Crude Oil & Gasprocessing plants, hazardous areas exist due to the presence of flammable gases .While designing such plants the first step is to finalize the layout of facilities andequipments. Area Classification drawings are then developed based on the layouts.The purpose of the area classification drawings is to clearly identify the hazardousand safe areas in the plant . For safe operations all electrical equipments must beselected keeping in view their area of application in the plant. It goes without sayingthat electrical equipments designed for hazardous areas are much costlier than theordinary ones and hence the plant facility layout has a considerable bearing on thecapital expenditure.
SOME DEFINITIONS
We know that for a fire to take place three things are essential :1. Presence of fuel such as flammable gas2. Presence of oxygen3. Presence of heat ie. sufficient ignition energy to ignite the flammable mixtureWhile discussing hazardous areas ,it is useful to have the following relevantdefinitions in mind :
 
Ignition Temperature :
The lowest temperature at which ignition occurs in amixture of explosive gas and air.
 
Flash Point :
The temperature at which the liquid gives so much vapour,thatthis vapour, when mixed with air,forms an ignitable mixture.
 
Explosive Limits :
The extreme values for the concentration of a flammablegas or air under atmospheric conditions, which can be ignited by an electricarc or spark.
STANDARDS
Most countries have developed their own standards and codes for AreaClassification but internationally two main standards are being followed.These are :
The North American standards produced by the API and NFPA.
The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards.
API RP 500 is used in the United States whereas IEC 79 is popular in Europe.Area classification basically covers two aspects :1. The probability of flammable atmosphere in the area2. The type of gases / chemical vapours involvedThe North American
API RP 500
defines the above two aspects as
Divisions
and
Gas
 
Groups
whereas in
IEC 79
they are termed as
Zones
and
Gas Groups.
 
NORTH AMERICAN METHODCLASSES
The type of flammable material is classified as follows :
Class 1 :Flammable gases or vapors are present in the air in quantitiessufficient to produce explosive or ignitable mixtures.Class 2 :
Combustible or conductive dusts are present.
 Class 3 :
Ignitable fibres or flyings are present, but not likely to be in suspension insufficient quantities to produce ignitable mixtures. (Group classifications are notapplied to this class.)In the petroleum industry we are concerned with Class 1 mainly.
DIVISIONSClass 1, Division 1 Location :
A location in which ignitable concentrations offlammable gases or vapors are expected to exist under normal operating conditionsor in which faulty operation of equipment or processes might simultaneously releaseflammable gases or vapors and also cause failure of electrical equipment.
Class 1, Division 2 Location :
A location in which flammable gases or vapors maybe present, but normally are confined within closed systems; are prevented fromaccumulating by adequate ventilation; or the location is adjacent to a Division 1location from which ignitable concentrations might occasionally be communicated.
GAS GROUPS
GROUP A Atmospheres containing acetylene.GROUP B Atmospheres containing hydrogenGROUP C Atmospheres containing ethyl ether vapours, ethylene orequivalent gases
GROUP D
Atmospheres containing gasoline, naptha, propane, acetone,
natural gas
or equivalentGROUP E Metal DustGROUP F Coal DustGROUP G Grain Dust
EUROPEAN METHODZONES
ZONE 0 An area in which hazardous atmosphereis continuously present. In oil industrysuch a condition exists in confinedspaces, such as the vapour space ofclosed process vessels, storage tanksetc.ZONE 1 An area where explosive gas and airmixture is continuously present for a longperiod or is likely to occur in normaloperation.ZONE 2 An area in which explosive gas and airmixture is likely to occur only underabnormal operating conditions. Forexample : Gas Turbine enclosures.NON-HAZARDOUS AREA Areas not falling under Zone 0,1 or 2 are
 
considered as safe areas. Oil and gaspipelines laid in the open outsidehazardous areas and that do not haveany flange joints,which cannot becomeloose, are considered safe area.
GAS GROUPS
GROUP 1 Covers gases produced in coal mines(mainly fire damp methane).GROUP 2A Atmospheres containing acetone,ethane, hexane, ethyl acetate, ammonia,benzene, butane, diesel, propane etc.GROUP 2B Atmospheres containing ethylene, towngas, ethyl ether etc.GROUP 2C Atmospheres containing hydrogen,acetylene, ethyl nitrate, carbondisulphide.In addition to the zones ( defining probability of occurrence of flammable mixture)and Gas Groups ( defining type of flammable gas) , the European Standard also hasa Temperature Classification .
The external surfaces of explosion proof equipment must not exceed thetemperature whereby they may be liable to become source of ignition for thesurrounding atmosphere.
According to ignition temperature gases and vapours are divided into sixtemperature classes as follows :T1 450 deg CT2 300 deg CT3 200 deg CT4 135 deg CT5 100 deg CT6 85 deg CThe ignition temperature of natural gas is approximately 480 deg Celsius.However, it goes down considerably if H
2
S is present.
TYPES OF PROTECTION FOR ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENTS
Electrical equipments are designed and manufactured with the following types ofprotections :Type ‘d’ (Flameproof) The enclosure will withstand an internalexplosion of the flammable gas, whichmay enter it, without suffering damageand without communicating the internalflame to the external flammableatmosphere through any joints orstructural opening in the enclosure.Type ‘e’ (Increased safety) A method of protection by whichadditional measures are applied toprovide increased safety against thepossibility of excessive temperatures and

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