ATEX for safety in
explosive atmospheres

Accidental explosions occur on a regular basis, causing injury to people in severe cases. In 1979, 14 people were killed and 17 others were injured, some seriously, in a flour dust explosion in the north German city of Bremen. In February 2008, a dust explosion destroyed a sugar refinery in Georgia, USA, killing 14 people and injuring another 36. There are a number of reasons for such accidents and they can be prevented by using equipment and components that are tailored to such hazardous areas.

Caution: highly flammable

Organic materials such as grain and sugar, but also many chemicals and light metals, are combustible. Their dust can be explosive given the right mixture of air. The lower the amount of energy required to ignite a dust, the greater the danger. A small spark is often enough. The EU “ATEX” directives stipulate the legal conditions for explosion protection to increase safety in plants. These comprise the ATEX Workers’ Protection Directive (1999/92/EC) and the ATEX Equipment and Protective Systems Directive (2014/34/EU), and regulate which areas in industrial plants should be classified as potentially explosive, and which equipment, components, and protective systems may be used in such areas. The areas are divided into different zones based on risk, explosive gases and dusts are additionally classified in explosion groups. Corresponding measures are stipulated for each zone and group with the goal of attaining maximum safety.

Conductive is the magic word

Air filtration and dust removal systems can be found wherever there is dust. Only filter elements that meet certain electrostatic properties may be used if such areas fall under the “ATEX” directives. For example, if parts were to become electrostatically charged, the friction between the dust and the filter would create a risk of sparking — and thus of igniting the explosive atmosphere. Maximum safety can be achieved by using conductive filter elements that are integrated into the grounding system. That is why the ATEX-compliant filter elements and filter cartridges from Freudenberg Filtration Technologies are electrically conductive.

Putting it to the test

According to the ATEX Equipment and Protective Systems Directive, filter elements do not constitute equipment and therefore do not require a CE label.

On the contrary, the CE marking is even directly prohibited by the EU Directive. They must, however, meet basic safety and explosion protection requirements. It is for this reason that all ATEX-compliant versions of Viledon filters are regularly inspected by independent testing institutes. The ATEX-compliant versions offer similar performance to the standard products. Freudenberg Filtration Technologies also tests all conductive elements individually and checks them for conductivity. This 100-percent control ensures maximum safety when using Viledon filters in any ATEX zone.

The right equipment makes it possible to manage the risk for people and production sites for potentially explosive areas. Freudenberg Filtration Technologies’ conductive filter elements make it possible to achieve ATEX-compliant, energy-efficient air filtration with little effort.

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