Flammable mists

Published:  02 June, 2017

A research proposal focussing on flammable mists is shortly to be released by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive.

Mists of high-flashpoint fluids such as hydraulic oils, lubricating oils, diesel and heavier fuels can ignite and produce explosions at temperatures below their flashpoints.

A review in 2009 identified 37 historical ignition incidents involving flammable mists, including 20 explosions, of which nine were collectively responsible for a total of 29 fatalities.

In contrast with the well-established hazardous area classification for flammable gases and vapours atmospheres, the current guidance on mist hazards is limited, brief and largely qualitative, even if there is a legal requirement in the EU to consider flammable mists.

The HSE began work on this subject in 2011 with industry and regulatory partners; more recently it hosted a scoping workshop in March where the current knowledge gaps were discussed. These included the influence of orifice size and shape on mist formation; the influence of spray impingement; and the criteria for defining the flammable zone.

The research proposal is planned to be released this month (June). The HSE welcomes prospective partners and interested parties should contact: Dr Paul Grant, paul.grant@hsl.gsi.gov.uk

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