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WL Port-Land Systems, Inc. Report
September 2018
 
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In This Issue
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Some Thoughts On: New Colleagues
Three new colleagues have joined us over the past few months. I’d like to introduce them to you.
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Evan Fennell
Evan Fennell has come aboard as Project Manager and is responsible for management and coordination of all aspects of the project execution. He has worked in construction and for a large local forging company as project engineer and project manager. Evan has a Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering and a Master of science in Materials Science Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.
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Nate Socash
Nate Socash has joined our drafting team. He has worked in the bulk material handling industry as senior designer and has experience with coal plant designs. Nate has spent time in the field on startups, verifying and measuring equipment and implementing solutions.  He has also spent time overseas as a draftsman in Brisbane, Australia and Johannesburg, South Africa.
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John Franko
John Franko has joined our team as a Project Engineer and will draw on his vast experience to ensure project scopes, schedules, and operations are implemented. John has almost two decades of experience in heavy industrial engineering and construction. John is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Geo-Environmental Engineering and a Master of Science degree in Mineral Processing.
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Rich Pongratz

Welcome, Evan, Nate and John!

 

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Richard K. Pongratz, Director of Business Development
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Ask the Expert
Explosion Relief Panels
Send your question to our team of experts.
Q"How can I minimize the risk of dust explosions with the use of venting and explosion panels?"
– C.J.
AC.J., One of the greatest hazards in a feed mill and many other industrial facilities is that of a dust explosion. A dust explosion, also known as an “explosion by deflagration” can be a catastrophic event causing serious employee injury or death, not to mention significant damage to the facility and equipment. Obviously, the risk of this type of hazard should be paramount to anyone designing, managing or working in a facility handling potentially dusty bulk materials.

According to Google, the definition of Deflagration is “combustion that propagates through a gas or across the surface of an explosive at subsonic speeds, driven by the transfer of heat.” Essentially, once ignited, hot burning material heats the adjacent colder material causing ignition at an incredible rate, similar to the flash of gun powder. In an industrial setting, when flammable dusts exist at high concentrations – whether they are suspended in air, accumulated on floors, or on other structural members or equipment – the potential for a fire or explosion by deflagration exists. In many cases, a dust fire or explosion is confined within an enclosure, building, storage vessel, or piece of equipment. Confinement can lead to elevated pressures which can increase the magnitude of the event, leading to further damage outside and away from the initial area. This can potentially result in secondary explosions. This domino effect can cause further structural damage and hazards to nearby personnel.

The keys to minimizing the risk of a dust explosion are through dust mitigation and engineered controls. These include but are not limited to proper housekeeping to prevent dust accumulation, timely equipment maintenance, the use of dust collection equipment, and minimizing flammable materials and ignition sources in and around process or material handling equipment. However, the focus here is on another equally important engineered control: the addition of adequate explosion venting and pressure relief in storage bins, silos, and dust collection and conveying equipment where dust explosions often occur. There are numerous agencies involved in the issues related to combustible dust. Among these are the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). NFPA 68 is the Standard on Explosion by Deflagration Venting and is enforceable by OSHA. NFPA 68 was reissued in 2018 and includes numerous updates which are intended to provide greater safeguards than previous issues. In addition, many insurance providers follow the current NFPA standards while others such as FM Global have developed their own, slightly more restrictive guidelines.

A dust explosion has five primary elements: oxygen, heat, fuel, dispersion and confinement. By eliminating one or more of these elements, we can greatly reduce the hazard. Controlled explosion venting – the primary focus of NFPA 68 – helps accomplish this task. Explosion vents are systematically placed in equipment, vessels or buildings in areas most susceptible to high levels of dust and serve as the sacrificial element that provides the means of explosion venting once the panel separates from the parent structure under pressure. Done properly, this approach can reduce the pressure within the confined space, direct the explosive energy into a planned direction and/or location, and reduce the overall impact and destructive energy of the initial explosion while minimizing the risk for secondary explosions. A facility designer should consider explosion venting anywhere high concentrations of dust may exist, including in bag houses, bins and silos, bucket elevators and certain areas within buildings. Consideration of the location of explosion panels should be given so that upon release, the explosive energy and the panel itself are not directed outward toward another structure, piece of equipment, or means of personnel egress. Further, explosion panels should be located outdoors when at all possible. If they are indoors, the equipment and explosion panel must be located as close as possible to an exterior wall and fully vented to the outside. It should be noted that with the release of NFPA 68-2018, the practice of installing a bag house in the interior of a structure is becoming increasingly difficult.

Explosion panels in bins and silos should be located in the side wall above the highest possible material level or located in the roof of the structure. Likewise, the entire enclosure top can serve as a vent. Bucket elevators should have explosion relief vents uniformly spaced in both the up and down legs as well as the head and boot sections. Typically, explosion panels on bag house dust collectors are located below the bottom of the bags and mounted in an extension of the lower plenum, although other arrangements are possible depending on the specific design parameters of the bag house dust collection system.
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NEED HELP WITH PROCUREMENT?
WL Port-Land Systems, Inc., as a Design/Build Engineering and Construction Company servicing multiple industries, has built an extensive vendor base over the years. Once we complete a project and the facility is in operation, many of our customers come back to us for aftermarket parts and equipment. We have the ability to provide end-to-end turnkey solutions for all project-related procurement, expediting and freight services to our existing customer base and, naturally, to prospective customers. As an EPC company, we are well equipped to evaluate, recommend, implement, and manage all of a customer’s procurement needs, including vendor sourcing, inquiry, technical review and commercial evaluation, vendor selection, order placement, expediting and delivery. WL Port-Land Systems, Inc. Procurement and Logistics offers the most flexible, cost-effective outsourcing solutions. Our team has worked closely with many of our vendors worldwide and is here to meet your challenges.

E-mail or call us -- at 412-344-1408 -- we welcome the opportunity to provide these services.

What do you have to lose?
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Did You Know?
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…that any sound over 85 decibels can cause hearing loss? The louder the sound, the less time it takes for the onset of ear damage. Persistent loud noises, such as from industrial equipment, damage the eardrum, the fragile middle-ear bones (malleus, incus, and stapes) and the small muscles in the ear, particularly the tensor tympani muscle. Noise induced hearing loss occurs gradually, so it isn’t always apparent at the early stages. The best thing to do is protect your ears by wearing ear plugs or personal protective equipment (PPE) while exposed to loud noises.
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Featured Project
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WL Port-Land Systems continues construction of a new Premix plant for D&D Ingredient Distributors, Inc. in Delphos, Ohio. This new manufacturing plant will have ingredient receiving and storage systems, batching and mixing systems, bagging and tote fill systems as well as all the necessary plant support systems. We would like to thank the group at D&D for their continued confidence in our services.
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Events Calendar
WL Port-Land Systems will participate in these industry events. Click to set up an appointment with a rep.
December 2-4, 2018
2018 NGFA Country Elevator Conference Trade Show
St. Louis, MO
February 12-14, 2019
2019 IPPE
Atlanta, GA
March 9-12, 2019
2019 GEAPS
New Orleans, LA
April 29-May 1, 2019
2019 Petfood Forum
Kansas City, MO
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There are numerous types of explosion relief panels commonly in use in industry. Rupture panels are typically manufactured using a thin metal sheet that is pressed into one or more “domes” which rupture outward under a specific design pressure. This design ensures the ruptured panel physically deforms and bursts open but does not separate from the equipment or release any dangerous shrapnel. Release-style panels are attached to the structure or equipment with the use of pressure-sensitive fasteners which fail under a designed load. In the event of an explosion, the fasteners release and the panel is physically separated from the equipment. A lanyard attached to one or more corners of the panel allow for complete separation and explosion venting but prevent the panel from being ejected into nearby equipment or falling to the ground below. During normal venting, the rupture panel or the release panel allows an explosion to be freely discharged, including the associated flames and dust. Flameless explosion vents are also available which extinguish the flame from the vented explosion. Although significantly more costly, this style makes explosion venting inside buildings a possibility and eliminates the need for ducting to the outside.

A detailed design of explosion vents is beyond the scope of this document, but specific design parameters can be found in NFPA 68. However, when entertaining a new project, having your dust lab-tested will help during the design process. Certain testing parameters are important: A dust’s Kst value is indicative of how severe an explosion the dust will generate, while the Pmax value is the maximum pressure generated during the test. A dust’s minimum explosive concentration (MEC) and its capacity to self-heat are also important. Although values have been tabulated by various sources for general design use, NFPA 68 specifies the end user of the equipment has the responsibility of testing the specific materials being handled. With this information along with the general equipment parameters (size, length, volumes, internal air velocity, etc.), the explosion panel design can be verified. The physical size and surface area of the panel, its weight, the construction style, and method of tethering (if applicable) are among the considerations during the design process to ensure the panel fits the particular equipment and installation. Depending on the application, some designers may incorporate an explosion-sensing feature along with related safety interlocks. Pressure sensing devices, burst indicators, and electronic switches can be incorporated into the explosion panel design to provide immediate notification to the plant control system of a potential problem. With this signal, adjacent equipment can be shut down; and alarms or other safety devices can be triggered, such as isolation valves and fire suppression equipment.

In summary, the likelihood of dust explosions can be significantly reduced with proper management and controls. The new standard NFPA 652 provides general requirements for management of combustible dust fire and explosion hazards. Although there are a multitude of methods and safety devices that are commonly used to reduce fire and explosion risk, the use of properly designed explosion venting should be at the top of this list to minimize the potential resulting damage from an explosion event. It should be noted, however, that even with the most advanced safety precautions and dust mitigation efforts, the possibility of an explosion still remains. But with proper explosion venting and relief, the impact of these explosions can be reduced – and to a certain degree – somewhat controlled to minimize the risk to life and property.
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Chris Skidmore is a Project Manager for WL Port-Land Systems and is responsible for coordinating information and project materials among the engineering group, purchasing, subcontractors, field superintendents and our clients to transform a design/build contract into a functional turnkey system.

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About WL Port-Land Systems, Inc.
  • Visit our Web site.
  • Contact us via e-mail.
  • Contact Rich Pongratz
  • You can call us at 412-344-1408 or fax us at 412-344-1412.
  • You can "snail mail" us at 305 Mt. Lebanon Blvd., Suite 400, Pittsburgh, PA 15234.
We look forward to hearing from you!
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