When we say “intrinsically safe,” what do we mean?
Multiple fields face the risk of fire. In some cases, the danger is clear, such as when working with highly combustible substances like hydrogen or propane, while in others, it is more subtle. For example, dust is notoriously flammable.
Besides fuel and air, fire also needs something to spark it. Fuel can be found in flammable gases, vapours, and dust; oxygen is present in most settings; and a spark or heated surface can set the fire ablaze. Even the most manageable fire poses a risk, and in the most extreme situations, the rate of combustion can even lead to an explosion.
No company or organisation wants to be the one responsible for someone getting hurt or killed, therefore preventing fires and explosions is a high responsibility. Punitive fines and increased insurance premiums are two examples of the direct financial repercussions that can devastate a business that was doing well before the incident.
When installing machinery in high-risk areas for fire, engineers can take one of two approaches: either they can use explosion-proofing methods or they can use an “intrinsically safe” design strategy (and these are not mutually exclusive).
Intrinsic Safety (IS): what it means
Installation and risk management factors to think about when picking a pressure transducer or load cell for an IS setting
With the use of a wind tunnel for precision tuning,
Engineers and other technical specialists should be able to implement the intrinsic safety concept with confidence after reading this article.
Define the term “intrinsically safe equipment.”
Equipment and wiring that “under normal or abnormal conditions is incapable of releasing sufficient electrical or thermal energy to produce ignition of a specific hazardous air mixture at its most easily ignited concentration” is considered intrinsically safe. To prevent the gases from catching fire, the available power to the electrical equipment in the hazardous region must be kept below a certain threshold.
For an inferno or explosion to occur, there must be combustible material, oxygen, and a spark or other ignition mechanism. When designing an inherently safe system, engineers ensure that the electrical energy or thermal energy of any given instrument loop is never high enough to trigger ignite, even if fuel and oxygen are present in the air. The Intrinsic Safety (IS) method is a way to design machinery for use in potentially dangerous environments. The goal is to lessen the available energy until it is insufficient to start a fire. This calls for a lack of heat and the elimination of any possibility of sparks.
Historically, EXPLOSION PROOF technology, which can contain an explosion within an inclosure, or PRESSURIZATION or purging, which isolates the explosive gas from the electrical equipment, have been used to provide safety in potentially explosive surroundings. While intrinsically safe technology isn’t a perfect replacement for these methods, it can save expenses associated with setting up and maintaining machinery in a hazardous environment in some circumstances. Intrinsic safety barriers are often constructed using Zener diodes for voltage regulation, resistors for current regulation, and a fuse for protection against electrical overload.
Other options include designing systems where oxygen is not present (via the use of inert gas purging) or isolating ignition sources. Both explosion-proof inclosures and relocating machines outside of the danger zone are viable options.
In What Way Do Electronics Fit In?
There are intrinsically safe variants of many common electronic devices. Among these are:
- Telephonic devices
- Detectors for dangerous gases
- In fact, even flashlights!
What makes an intrinsically safe component so important in these products? People’s very survival depends on it.
A breakdown in communications inside a mine poses a serious threat to the well-being of its employees. To prevent an explosion, electronics used in factories that produce hydrogen and propane must not cause a spark or overheat.
Intrinsically Safe v/s Explosion Proof
Products that are considered explosion-proof have a safe space in which an explosion can be contained. It will prevent fires or hot gases from leaking out of their inclosure. Despite what the name might imply, this product is not built to endure the significant impact.
The low power of intrinsically safe electronics means that they are less likely to trigger an explosion if one were to occur.
What Are The Pros?
When selecting what features to include in your product, remember that there are benefits beyond only safety that come from designing electronics to satisfy intrinsically safe standards.
Explosion-proof inclosures can be avoided due to their high price, cumbersome size, and time-consuming setup.
It is possible to execute diagnostic and maintenance checks without having to halt production and open windows.
As a result of less risk, insurance premiums could be lowered.
While “IS” certification for individual components is possible, the system as a whole must be developed with safety in mind. The system’s components and wiring must be fully documented.
The equipment will be inspected right after installation, and at regular intervals over its lifetime. The goal here is to detect any deterioration or replacement of IS parts without authorisation.
It’s not always the case but IS gear can sometimes sub in for the need for explosion-proof gear. As a result of needing minimal energy and room temperature, this is the case.
Consult with experts in the field.
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