Are enhanced dust explosion hazards to be foreseen in production, processing and handling of powders consisting of nano-size particles?

Based on experience with powders having particle sizes down to the range 1 0.1 ím one might expect that dust clouds from combustible nm-particle powders would exhibit extreme ignition sensitivities (very low MIEs) and extreme explosion rates (very high KSt-values).However, there are two basic phys. reasons why this may not necessarily be the case. Firstly, the formation of clouds of well-dispersed primary particles from bulk powders consisting of nm-particles is extremely difficult to achieve, due to the comparatively very strong inter-particle cohesion forces. Secondly, should such a dispersion process nevertheless be fully successful, extremely fast coagulation processes in clouds within the explosive mass concentration range, would transform the primary nm-particles into much larger agglomerates within fractions of a second. Furthermore, for organic dusts and coal, the basic mechanism of flame propagation in the dust cloud is a further reason for not expecting extreme ignition sensitivities and explosion rates dust clouds from nm-particles. The overall conclusion is that dust clouds consisting of nm primary particles would not necessarily be expected to exhibit more severe MIE and KSt-values than those of dust clouds of primary particles. Recent experimental evidence confirms that this is in fact the case for KSt, whereas for MIE the values for some metals are significantly lower for nm primary particles than for ím ones.

Author: Eckhoff Rolf K. ;Full Source: Journal of Physics: Conference Series [online computer file] 2011, 304, 012075/1-012075/20 (Eng) ;