DSEAR and Ethanol

If you are working with ethanol on any significant scale, you’ll probably need a DSEAR risk assessment, including for manufacture of:

  • Some alcoholic beverages
  • Some flavours and fragrances
  • Many hand sanitizing products
  • Some cosmetics

Ethanol has a number of properties which need to be taken in to acocunt:

  • It forms highly non-ideal solutions in water, which means the flash point can be surprisingly low -even for dilute mixtures (around 30°C for a 10% solution) – so on a hot day, even wines can theoretically be an explosion hazard in confined spaces.
  • Based on the most recent test data, it falls into equipment group IIB, which means that some care is needed when selecting ATEX equipment and in control of electrostatics – particularly when selecting IBCs.
  • Its conductivity is high, particular when mixed with water, meaning that other aspects of electrostatics control can be easier.
  • The explosive limit of 3.3% is much higher than most petrochemicals, meaning extents of zone can be much lower and codes such as IP15/EI15 are inappropriate.

Ethanol vapour can be released in significant quantities during:

  • Filling vessels, IBCs or bottles
  • Spillage of containers
  • Processing in open troughs and containers
  • Leakage from a pipe fitting, pump seal or valve stem – even when the internal pressure is only a few 100mbar

In most cases the above operations will mean a hazardous area classification has to be carried out.

R&B Industrial can make correct use of design codes, jet physics, physical chemistry and thermodynamics to establish the risk in your specific circumstances. We can also advise on appropriate engineering controls to minimise the risk to your employees, including:

  • correct specification of ventilation and process venting/relief
  • correct selection of ATEX equipment
  • design of equipment to minimise electrostatic ignition risks
  • use of a range of mitigation measures to contain a release

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