Eliminating Fuel to Prevent Fires in Process Plants

Process plant fires are all too common in the mining industry.
By eliminating the fuel instead of preventing ignition, the risk of process plant fires can be significantly reduced.

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Unfortunately process plant fires are a common occurrence in the mineral processing industry, with several occurrences over the past few years alone.

A common theme with process plant fires is the combination of a fuel source with the flammable rubber linings present to minimise the build up of cohesive process material to process equipment, combined with the venturi effect of a transfer chute.

Hot air escaping from the top of the chute forms a venturi drawing in cool air and oxygen from bottom. The venturi accelerates as the fire grows in intensity, quickly becoming an out of control fire event.

Industry attempts at implementing controls have centred around preventing the initiation of a fire through hot works administrative controls or preventing the use of oxy acetylene torches.

Elimination of the fuel source itself (plastic and rubber) from process plants is considered the ideal solution.

However, removing build up resistant coatings from the process plant would require additional manning levels to facilitate the frequency of hosing needed to prevent blockages and maintain plant uptime.

Automated hosing, for the first time, is equivalent to having an operator stationed at each and every location permanently and 24/7. Build up can be dislodged from propagation points on a routine interval, preventing build up from propagating or becoming a blockage.

The ability to stay on top of build up at all times eliminates the need for build up resistant lining solutions that are a high maintenance cost and flammable.

Traditional non-flammable metallic liner packages with superior wear characteristics can be used.

By eliminating fuel sources that are attributed with process plant fires, process plant owners are able to significantly reduce the risk of process plant fires whilst simultaneously lowering the cost of maintenance.