Chemical process safety has become a widespread, international concern and receives high attention within the chemical industry. To improve process safety awareness, we publish short introductions into different process safety issues in cooperation with the monthly one-page Process Safety Beacon of the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS).
First Topic: Static Charge
Electrostatic charges can occur almost everywhere in our daily life when two different materials come into contact or are separated from each other. Depending on the strength of the discharge, it can cause personal injury and fire.
Electrostatic discharges can have serious consequences in explosion proof areas. This applies to handling flammable liquids and gases (e.g., petrol stations, gas plants), as well as dry bulk (e.g., dust explosions of flour, grain).
Which statements are correct?
a) Fluids flowing through pipes, solids through ducts, air through ductwork or pneumatic conveyors can generate static charge.
b) Conductive fluids (e.g., water, alcohols, acetone) generate static much more easily and dissipate charge more slowly compared to non-conductive liquids (e.g., benzene, toluene, naphtha).
c) Handling flammable solvents in plastic containers requires more caution than in metallic containers.