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Electric power production from coal is on a steep rise in major developing countries, including China, India, Indonesia, South Africa, and Vietnam, albeit declining in developed countries such as the United States. Shortfalls in coal production have been reported in some of these countries, but these issues are being addressed by increasing coal production, as well as by use of imported coal from other countries. The major concerns of Pulverized Coal (PC) or Circulating Fluidized Bed (CFB) combustion type coal-fired power plants are fires and explosions in hazardous areas and global warming and other environmental issues. Fires and explosions have caused a significant number of deaths and injuries to power plant staff. Besides other ignitable materials used in coal-fired power plants, coal dust has been identified as the major source of these fires. For coal to remain as a viable fuel in power production in the power generation industry, protective measures are required during engineering, design, construction and operation of the coal-fired power plants, particularly in electrical areas that are often a source of ignition. The Fire Triangle The “fire triangle” (Figure 1) is a well-known tool that illustrates the three conditions that must be present for a fire or explosion to occur at a particular location: Flammable or combustible material must be present; the material must be mixed with air in the proportions and concentration to form a combustible mixture; and the ignition source must supply enough energy to initiate combustion. A spark or flame is not necessary, as temperature alone can supply the energy to cause ignition of the mixture.
1. The Fire Triangle. Oxygen, fuel, and sufficent heat must be present for ignition. Source: Wikimedia Commons/Gustavb
II. vapors or liquids can exist some of the time under normal operating conditions. and construction and operation of power plant facilities. vapors or liquids are not likely to exist under normal operating conditions. Where ignitable concentrations of flammable gases. and III. 1 and 2 Method: Article 505 and IEC/EN60079-10. Class I—Gas and Vapor. The “class and division” method has traditionally been used in the United States. selection of equipment. The concepts included in the fire triangle have been specified in codes and standards issued by various world organizations providing guidance in the design of electrical systems. Electrical equipment can become a source of ignition in these volatile areas. where fire or explosion hazards may exist due to presence of combustible dust or ignitable fibers. Zone 1. Where ignitable concentrations of flammable gases. vapors or liquids are not likely to exist under normal operating conditions Similarly. Hazardous Classified Locations The National Electrical Code (NEC) in United States and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in other countries define hazardous area locations as those areas. Where ignitable concentrations of flammable gases. and Class III— Fibers and Flyings. F and G in Class II locations . and Division 1 and 2 Method: Article 500 Class 1. Hazardous areas are classified by types. B. Class II—Dust. vapors or liquids can exist all or for some time under normal operating conditions Where ignitable concentrations of flammable gases. Zone 0. Zone 2. C and D in Class I locations Group E. division or zone. and nature/group. There are three types of hazardous conditions. Hazardous area locations are categorized by two methods per NEC: Class I.The energies required to ignite various groups of combustible substances have been proven by experimentation. Nature/Groups of Hazardous Substances are: Group A. flammable gases or vapors. vapors or liquids can exist all of the time or for long periods at a time under normal operating conditions. There are two types of divisions under Class I conditions: Where ignitable concentrations of flammable gases. The “class and zone” method has been used in other countries in accordance with IEC standards. and flammable liquids. there are two types of divisions under Class II conditions: Where ignitable concentrations of combustible dust can exist all or for some time under normal operating conditions Where ignitable concentrations of combustible dust are not likely to exist under normal operating conditions Zones defined per IEC standards are as follows: Zone 0.
If this primary explosion occurs. . Aqueous ammonia is used for nitrogen oxide emission reduction by selective catalytic reduction (SCR) or selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) method.. Propane. filter and scrubber station. Sources of Ignition: Electrical Equipment There are 3 ways in which electrical equipment can become a source of ignition: Arcs and sparks.Combustible and Flammable Materials in a Coal‐Fired Power Plant Many types of combustible and flammable materials can be present in coal-fired plant: Coal. gas control valve block. coal preparation system/crusher house.g. Used as start-up fuel. gas shut-off valve and filter. gas control valve block. gas shut-off valve. dust collectors. fuel unloading and forwarding pump station. seal oil unit. coal dust is a major source of dust explosions in a coal-fired power plant. High temperature. hidden concealed areas. Shorting of a terminal could spark ignition. As cooling medium for generator cooling and release from DC system batteries. Natural gas. fuel oil booster pump and leakage tank. flop gate bunkers. e. gas-relief valve. Electrical equipment failure. Hydrogen. gas pre-heater areas. gas relief valve. additional available dust can disperse and secondary explosions can spread throughout the facility. head chute. and feed system. suspended in air. and gas piping. coal handling below grade conveyor systems. Some heat producing equipment. As start-up or alternate fuel. and where other combustible and flammable materials exist. It can be present in gas cylinders. transfer towers. Ammonia. piping to ignition burner and to combustor. fuel oil control valve block and fuel oil piping to burners. In addition. Electrical equipment can cause explosions in coal dust atmospheres when located in coal conveyor galleries. coal chutes. and switches can ignite a combustible or a flammable material. totally enclosed portions of coal handling conveyors. control cubicle and piping. motor starters. Includes ammonia storage and piping. Can be present in oil tanks. The main combustible fuel. coal silos. Also present in hydrogen gas unit. Produced by the normal operation of equipment. The fuel oil becomes flammable when heated above its flash point. As start-up or alternate fuel. Gas can be present in gas compressor station. and other locations where dust can settle. It can cause primary explosion when the right concentration of finely divided dust. Fuel oil. such as light lamps and lighting fixtures. is exposed to a sufficient source of ignition causing combustion. electric motors and heaters can ignite flammable atmospheres if they exceed the ignition temperature of the hazardous material. contactors.
dust ignition proof. fuel oil. Division 1 equipment is designed and constructed such that it must seal out the combustible dust. Electrical Equipment for Class I Applications (gas/vapor) Class I. Nonincendive circuits. NFPA 70. vapor-air. Therefore. and be explosion proof. junction boxes and conduit as per ANSI/NFPA 496. but few are used for instrument wiring circuit wiring. operate below the ignition temperature of hazardous substances. only after they have been cooled off and their flames quenched. NEC Article 504 requires that conductors and cables of intrinsically safe circuits shall be physically separated from non-intrinsically safe circuits. in which any spark or thermal effect produced under intended operating conditions is not capable of igniting the gas-air. oil emersion. Many of these methods apply to AC-powered circuits. NEMA 250. powder filled. Division 2 and Class II. Wiring and enclosures are protected using a positive pressure maintained within the enclosure. combustion and explosion within electric equipment and circuit wiring enclosures in hazardous areas are due to hot surfaces and arcs/sparks. it is imperative to ensure that all flame paths are protected during handling. may be used for equipment in Class 1. shipping. Division 1 equipment is used with the assumption that hazardous gases or vapors will be present and eventually seep into the enclosure. The ideal electrical enclosure should be installed and removed easily. electrical equipment can cause explosions in propane gas. encapsulation. allow the components housed inside it to be accessed easily. hydrogen gas and ammonia gas areas. UL 50.Similarly. where flammable conditions exist. Electrical Equipment for Class II Applications Class II. natural gas. Intrinsically safe circuits in which any spark or thermal effect is incapable of causing ignition of a mixture of flammable or combustible material in air. . UL 508A. Therefore. storage. or combustible material entering the enclosures. Division 1 locations. Selection and Installation of Electrical Equipment for Hazardous Locations Ignitions. protect the equipment. may be used in hazardous classified locations.2. there is no need for heavy explosion-proof construction. or dust-air mixture. When installations are not explosion proof or intrinsically safe. non-sparking. It must function at a temperature below the ignition temperature of the surrounding atmosphere providing a way for the burning gases to escape from the device as the gases expand during an internal explosion. Equipment protection methods include flameproof. NFPA 79. dust tight. non-incendiary and hermetically sealed construction. and IEC 60529 provides guidance in the selection of specific type of enclosure to match the environmental protection. construction of such equipment must be strong enough to contain an explosion within. Canadian Standard Association CSA 22. and allow for a dust blanket. or flame paths required for equipment in Class I. installation and maintenance of explosion proof material and equipment. Further. and resist and prevent fire and explosion hazards. pressurization is often used to maintain the classified area safety. The escape paths could be ground surface or threaded flame path. Division 2 hazardous classified locations. Class II equipment is called dust-ignition proof.
or heat generated inside of the enclosure will not ignite . medium voltage switchgear and low voltage switchgear enclosures should be fully gasketed and be provided with filtered and screened air. structural members should be carefully reviewed for explosion pressures. Coal handling buildings that have dust explosion hazards. and operate at a temperature that will prevent the ignition of fibers accumulated on the equipment. proper pressure relieving vents and wall panels should be selected. unless they are identified for lower temperature service. In Coal handling areas. There are many devices. Special fittings are required to keep hot gases from travelling through the conduit system igniting other areas if an internal explosion occurs in a Class I device. fixtures and enclosures that are suitable for Class I. or ignite a layer of dust on the equipment. II and III locations. a Class I device would have to prevent dust entering the enclosure to be suitable for Class III application. Division 2/Zone 1 type or totally enclosed pipe-ventilated type. Class III equipment must minimize entrance of fibers and flyings. prevent escape of sparks. Additionally. Equipment that is approved for Class I and Class II or Zone 0 and Zone 1 should be marked with the maximum safe operating temperature. Class III equipment is generally not used in coal-fired power plants. sparks. Also. meeting temperature rise limitations. located and provided. Such equipment may not be suitable for use at temperatures lower than -25°C (-13°F). Low Ambient Conditions Considerations Explosion proof– or dust ignition proof–equipment is generally suitable for use in an ambient temperature range of -25°C (-13°F) to +40°C (+104°F). Qualification of Electrical Equipment in Hazardous (Classified) Locations There are a number of ways of protecting electrical equipment so that it does not cause an explosion when used in a surrounding flammable atmosphere. burning material or hot metal particles resulting from failure of equipment. Class II.Electrical Equipment for Class III Applications There is very little difference in the design between Class II and Class III equipment. Dust ignition–proof equipment should be enclosed in a manner that will exclude dust and constructed so that arcs. where accumulation of coal dust and its suspension in air are sources of potential hazards. Equipment must be selected so that its maximum surface temperature will be less than the ignition temperature of the coal dust. Installation Considerations Proper installation of electrical equipment in a hazardous location requires use of seals. The two most common ways are explosion-proof equipment and dust-ignition proof equipment Electric motors should be totally enclosed fan-cooled.
should be used with NEMA 9 (dust ignition–proof) enclosures with watertight seals (O-rings). panels. Group F locations. Codes and standard applicable to hazardous classified areas. Electrical devices including switches. . solenoids. Division 1. UL).8 (A) states that the suitability of identified equipment shall be determined by the equipment listing or labeling (for example. evidence of equipment evaluation from a qualified testing laboratory or inspection agency. shall be as complete assembly for Class II.exterior accumulation or atmospheric suspension of a specified dust on or in the vicinity of the enclosure. or evidence acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction. Table 1. which together with the enclosed equipment in each case. Applicable Industry Codes and Standards In the United States. codes and standards have been developed that are applicable to hazardous classified areas as shown in Table 1. Source: Burns and Roe Enterprises. NEC Article 500.
and other data used to prepare area classification. .Design Basis Document (DBD) and Drawings A design basis document is an engineering document that defines the basis of engineering and design. A list. General-purpose equipment is permitted for certain applications in Division 2 (Zone 2) areas. and the boundaries of area classifications. The design basis document also provides the necessary guidance to interdiscipline team of engineers in the design of their systems and design drawings for classified areas. Approved equipment by UL or other appropriate agency should be preferred. Electrical equipment should preferably be located outside hazardous area. under certain conditions. including dates and/or editions of all the codes. The following is a list of NEC rules that are intended to convey an awareness of the complexity of electrical design in hazardous areas: Explosion proof and dust-ignition proof equipment is required in Division 1 (Zone 0) areas and for certain types of equipment in Division 2 (Zone 1) areas. Electrical equipment must have temperature ratings or operating surface temperatures below the AIT of the hazardous substance present. process equipment. provided the specific rules of NFPA 469 are followed. Purging and pressurization of enclosures are permitted to prevent entrance of flammable and combustible materials. Rigid metal conduit is the allowable wiring method in Division 1 areas. operation. Brief description of the process. Practical Guidelines Table 2 provides general practical guidelines for classification of electrical areas where combustible and/or flammable materials are located and processes are performed in a coalfired power plant. A listing of each room or area and its determined area classification. the normal leakage sources. density and how and where handled. indicating process flow. and the selection of electrical equipment that must meet requirements for each classified area. along with the rationale for making such determination. practices. standards. references. and if they are installed per NEC article 504. Cable tray and cable. The design basis document and design drawings should include: A listing of all combustible and flammable materials used in the facility. along with their pertinent properties. flash point. Instrument enclosures may be general-purpose type if they are part of intrinsically safe systems. maintenance and cleaning procedures. such as ignition temperature. are permitted in Division 2 areas. A complete set of electrical area classification drawings. and assumptions.
Guidelines for classification of electrical areas.Table 2. Source: Burns and Roe Enterprises. .
if they are more stringent than the guidelines provided in Table 2. precaution should be taken to verify that boxing an overall area or extending a classified area to recognizable boundaries does not include electrical equipment that would otherwise not be included in the hazardous area. roads. ceilings. such as in a manifold having several instruments. piping layouts. the area should be boxed out as an overall 3 dimensional shape covering limits of extreme leakage points. equipment general arrangements. Project Documents Project documents prepared and used in establishing hazardous areas include process flow diagrams of the systems containing the hazardous materials. To avoid undue expense. walls. the construction contractor and the plant operators for their understanding of the affected areas. etc. The first shows a typical example of a pulverized coalfired power plant coal handling system process flow diagram. operation and maintenance personnel. not mentioned in Table 2. coordinates. Areas identified by recognizable boundaries are helpful for plant installation. and vendor supplied equipment drawings Two examples may be illustrative. Equipment manufacturer’s recommendations for area classification of specific equipment should be followed. dikes. or if there are several pieces of equipment with potential leak sources. It also helps the plant operation personnel to take protective measures that ensure safety of operation and maintenance of plant and better understanding to inspectors and insurance personnel. The design basis document and the associated design drawings that show the extent of horizontal and vertical boundaries of each classified area should be discussed with the owner. and the second shows boiler general arrangement with classified hazardous locations. equipment outlines. valves and flanges. In addition to the recommended distances from sources. should be identified. When there is more than one leakage source in an area. Examples of recognizable boundaries are column lines. .Sound engineering judgment should be applied and additional areas. considerations should be given to use easily recognizable boundary limits when defining the horizontal and vertical extent of classified locations.
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