You are on page 1of 18

Hazardous Locations

Hazardous locations are those where there is a hazardous environment. The Codes for hazardou environments are specifically concerned with the possibility of a fire or explosion due to forseeable or avoidable human errors like:
Improper installation, selection, and design Lack of proper maintenance Improper use Carelessness or oversight

Fire is rapid oxidation/combustion which results in producing heat, smoke, and light An explosion is a violent and sudden expansion of gases produced by rapid burning; it produces a very strong force when shut in a small space and generally has a loud, sharp noise and may have a supersonic shock wave The fundamental nature of electricity is to create a spark or generate energy which provides ignition in the right mix of fuel and air which leads to a fire or explosion
Both sparks AND heat have to be considered in electrical equipment design

Category System
Class I: Gases and flammable liquids such as gasoline Class II: Dusts and particles such as coal, flour, grain, and paint pigments Class III: Fibers such as carpet fiber Within these categories, the type of material also defines several subclasses depending on material properties Division 1: A situation where a hazardous atmosphere is present either continuously or for long periods of time under normal operation, or in which they exist frequently because of repair and maintenance or leakage Division 2: A situation where a hazardous atmosphere is not normally present except in the case of an accidental rupture or breakdown of equipment, or there is an adjacent Division 1 area that can potentially spill over. Unclassified: Not normally containing a hazardous atmosphere under normal or abnormal conditions. Example: Piping without valves, checks, meters, or similar devices would be unclassified. Pneumatic coal lines designed and maintained according to NFPA 85 is unclassified See NFPA 30A, 36, 51, 52, 54, 55, 58, 61, 85, 88A, 99, 407, 409, 495, 496, 654, 655 for specific classification guidance. See NFPA 30, 497, and 499 for general guidance. All can be viewed on NFPA web site (

European Classifications
European system uses zones instead of class/division
Does not have a direct equivalent to division 2 NEC allows either system (choose one)

European equipment ratings

Rated by the terms ATEX or Ex European Manufacturers can self-certify without any third party verification (CE) Not acceptable to MSHA or OSHA

There are MANY approaches, and each has particular advantages and disadvantages As a PHA team, it is better to ensure that electrical equipment meets hazardous location requirements and avoid a specific implementation Some methods: dust tight, dust-ignition proof, nonincendive, explosion proof, hermetically sealed, oil immersion, purged, pressurized, intrinsically safe, quartz/sand filled, encapsulated, ventilated Each method has developed to serve specific equipment and atmospheres. Each has advantages depending on the classification and the process

Method Overview
The following notes outline details on the major design methods for performing safe electrical installations in hazardous locations as background material Some (but not all) equipment will be specifically certified for use with a particular method by a certifying agency (FM Global, TUV) Some equipment is automatically approved
Example: TEFC (Aurora standard) motors are approved for use in Class II, Division 2 areas

Some methods have greater flexibility or higher power limitations at the expense of cost and weight. Others (oil filled) are equipment specific. Againa PHA team will want to ensure that the hazardous locations are documented and that the electrical team is aware of them, not specify solutions

Coal Mine History

The use of electricity in the explosive environment was initially done in the mining industry where the efficiency and power of electricity was quickly recognized The early approach was to burn any fire damp (methane) gases to reduce the risk of an explosion. Fire men were young miners who were covered with wet sacking and go ahead of the others with long wicks and hold them up in the highest parts of the mine to burn off methane. Methane flames are also a different color which was one of the first combustible gas sensors The method was effective but considered primitive Flare towers are still in common use in refineries today

Alternative Coal Solution

The first improved technique was venting (mine ventilation) which is still a major concern for underground mines today The second was the Davy safety lamp. This lamp had a wire mesh that cooled the hot gases which prevented the methane around a lantern from igniting
1800s, first example of explosion proof method

Pressuring/Purging Methods
Most flexibleany equipment can be used in any size enclosure Can be high cost to operate and maintain
Often less expensive due to flexibility and enclosure size

Methods are to pressurize an enclosure to prevent hazardous atmospheres from entering, or to purge with enough fresh air to achieve the same effect Usually requires some sort of monitoring and control to shut down if the purge/pressurizing system fails Must consider maintenance access especially with pressurized systems, and repressurizing/repurging Can require process calculations to verify effectiveness

Explosion Proof Method

Dr. Ing Carl Beyling developed flame proof in 1908. An explosion proof enclosure is designed to withstand the pressure of an internal explosion Also called dust ignition proof in dusty areas Very effective but enclosures are cast, heavy, expensive, and require expensive wiring with special seals

Flameproof Gap
Misconception: Not gas tight Allows gas/dust to exist inside equipment Hot gas jets through the opening which causes it to cool Openings are designed so that an escaping flame will be cooled to the point where it will not ignite any gas or dust outside the enclosure

Nonincendive Method
Every make/break component (relay, switch, etc.) must:
Be nonarcing Use an electrical circuit that limits the power so that the arc cannot cause anything to ignite Be sealed so that a spark cannot cause ignition

The only remaining concern is heat, which is addressed by enclosure design Enclosures must be weather proof and impactresistant Wiring must also be rated for the hazardous location Note: Many intrinsically safe ventilation fans and other parts are actually mislabeled and are nonincendive

Intrinsically Safe Method

Dates back to Senghenydd Coal Mine Disaster on October 13, 1913. Just prior to the explosion, older wet cell batteries were upgraded to dry cell batteries (note: no MOC!) It turns out that the higher current output of the dry cells created a spark large enough to ignite methane in a coal mine. Older wet cells were incapable of causing ignition. Intrinsically safe was born! To date, there are no recorded cases of IS equipment causing a fire or explosion

IS Design
Barriers electrically limit both current and voltage to within the safe limits required by the intrinsically safe design Barriers must be located within the non-hazardous area Generally this is less than 1.3 Watts (low power) Some portable devices on the market have a special battery (back to the old wet cell concept) which is designed to allow the IS power supply inside the hazardous area

Some PLC hardware has barriers integrated into it as a convenience. However manufacturers (Honeywell, AB) charge far more for convenience and it is usually less expensive to use a separate barrier

IS Devices
Field devices must be designed to not accumulate energy to a level where a spark or heat could form Devices must be either rated as IS or else be a simple apparatus:
All standard wiring (no special wiring required for IS) Passive components: switches, junction boxes, resistors, and some simple semi-conductor devices Sources of generated energy that do not exceed 1.5 volts, 100 mA, and 35 mW (thermocouples and photocells) LVDT type position sensors Magnetic pickup coils if the inductance does not exceed the limit on IS equipment Vibration sensors were previously excluded but are now allowed

Most 120 VAC equipment cannot be approved but most 24 VDC instrumentation and controls are approved

IS Wiring
IS wirng is simply standard wiring methods No special wiring is required

Hazardous Location Comparison

Method Intrinsically safe Power Wiring Best Use LED pilot lights, push buttons, most field instruments, radios Cost Low Very limited Standard

Explosion proof/dustignition proof



Medium size motors, lights, power relays

Junction boxes, smaller motors

Medium to high

Dust tight
Sealed/oil filled/sand filled



Standard process equipment

Transformers, some motors, some medium voltage equipment


Purged/Pressur Unlimited ized


Entire MCCs, control Low to rooms, custom equipment high