Work starts in ISO on safe handling and storage of wood pellets

Published:  20 March, 2014

A first meeting of ISO/TC 238, Safety standards was held in Stockholm last year, bringing together representatives from Sweden, Denmark, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Holland and Austria for this start up meeting.

How can wood pellets be safely stored?  How can a fire in a silo be extinguished?  What is the best way of testing and analysing any particular type of pellets in order to assess their tendency for spontaneous combustion or gasification?  These are some of the most important questions that the new ISO SafetyGroup will hopefully be able to answer.

Essentially all organic materials are prone to self-heating, although to different extents.  Whether or not this is a problem depends on the type of material, how it is stored, how much is stored, and on various ambient conditions.  There are still a number of gaps in our knowledge, and areas in which more research is required, but it has become increasingly clear that there is a need to develop standardised methods of testing and clear guidelines based on existing knowledge.  New and larger storage facilities are being built, and experience from fires that have occurred shows that there is a substantial need for guidance on how to prevent fires and explosions, and how to minimise the consequences of any incidents.

At a meeting of ISO/TC238 in Bangkok in the spring, the Swedish delegation put forward a proposal to establish a group to draw up safety standards.  The proposal was accepted, with Sweden being appointed to manage the work.  The group held its first meeting at the beginning of October, inviting international experts to participate.  The meeting attracted about 15 persons from seven different countries:  in addition to them, several other experts, from Canada, the USA and elsewhere, had notified their interest in participating in the work.  Anders Lönnermark was appointed chairman of the safety group.  The main result from the meeting was the establishment of five sub groups to prepare drafts of various documents, including guidelines for safe handling and storage of pellets in various sizes of stores, as well as of standards for methods of determining the tendency of materials to undergo spontaneous self-heating and/or gas generation.  SP Fire Technology’s Henry Persson and Per Blomqvist are also active members of these sub-groups.

A formal decision of which ‘work items’ are to be included in the group’s work will be made at the next meeting of ISO/TC238 in Stockholm in June 2014.

This article first appeared in SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden’s magazine, Brandposten, issue 49. You can read it here

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