No matter which industry you are in, the aware of the industry knowledge is the foundation of success. Take the wood pellet manufacturing industry as an example, for the seasoned wood pellet manufacturers, buying the wood pellet machines for their pellet plant is an easy choice, but for the newcomers, the lack of industry knowledge may generate some hidden problems which becomes the potential dangers for their wood pellet plant, such as the pellet plant safety issues.
Pellet Plant Safety Issues
When you contact the pellet plant machinery companies, the safety problems of pellet plant is the least popular topic that they would want to talk about.
In fact, during the wood pellet manufacturing process, there are several sources that may cause a fire, or even an explosion for the pellet plant, nearly every main piece of the pellet plant is a hidden danger, such as: wood chipper, pellet dryer, wood pellet mill, pellet coolers, etc. Here, we have summarized the careless operations and maintenance that may caused a fire or explosion:
Mixing of metallic particles
Normally, the transportation and storage of raw materials adopt a bulk system, so with a loose supervision, it is easy to mix some metallic particles in the feedstock, for example: a small piece of metal or a little stone mixed in the raw materials. Therefore, when the workers put the unpurified raw materials into the high speed hammer mill, it may cause sparks, as the raw materials are dry, so during the grinding process, it will generate a lot of dry wood fine particles which can easily start a fire and cause a serious damage for both the staffs and factory.
Bearing spare parts
As we all know, the bearing spare parts are the parts of the pellet mills which hold the majority of the bearing of the pellet mills, such as: the die and rollers. The bearing problem of the die and rollers will result in producing overheat pellets because of the friction. When the overheat pellet has been pressed out of the holes on the die, it may bring the explosion of the dust.
Accumulation of wood dust
During the whole pellet production process, wood dust is the unavoidable by-product, which is combustible and explosible. The wood dust has a concentration restricting to avoid the dust explosion, so when the wood dust concentration reaches the restrict, the explosion is knocking your door.
Pellet Plant Safety Incidents
The safety incident of pellet plant is an unpleasant reality of the industry. For the majority of pellet manufacturers, the fire and explosion is far away from themselves, it is easy to underestimate the possibility of the pellet plant explosion and fire incidents. In fact, there are pellet plant safety incidents every year. Below we are representing some of the pellet plant incidents hoping to alert all the wood pellet plant owners.
- August 20, 2013
An explosion occurred at Inferno Pellet Co. in East Providence, Rhode Island, USA. After the explosion, the fire spread 300,000 square feet, almost the whole factory. After 4 hours’ fire fighting, the fire is finally under control. But unfortunately, there is still one worker that is injured by the explosion with the first and second degree burns.
- September, 2013
An explosion is happened at the Nature’s Flame facility in Rotoakawa, New Zealand, while in America, a dust explosion occurred at Anderson Hardwood Pellet facility in Louisville, Kentucky, with a person that is injured.
- March 5, 2014
An explosion was reported on EHS Today, which is a famous occupational safety and health magazine published since 1938. The explosion and fire also got a worker injured and destroyed the factory building partially.
- October 9, 2014
A wood pellet plant in northern British Columbia exploded and got three workers injured, which another explosion happened two years ago at the same pellet plant. The pellet plant is now punished by repeated safety violations.
Pellet Plant Safety Suggestions
Install the magnetic separator
As the forms of raw materials of wood pellet are fine particles, it is very difficult for the workers to separate the metallic particles from the raw materials manually. The magnetic separator is a facility that can separate the different kinds of particles before the workers put the raw materials into a hammer mill or a pellet mill.
Check the bearing parts
In order to avoid the friction of the bearing parts and the overheat pellets, the safety supervisor of the pellet plant must check the bearing parts of the equipments in the pellet plant regularly.
The pellet temperature warning system
In order to control the temperature of the pellets, my suggestion is that to install an automatic temperature warning system at the discharge hole of the pellet mill.
The dust collection system
The dust is a by-product which is produced during the whole pellet production process. To avoid the dust explosion, a qualified dust collection system is required. It is necessary for the pellet plant owners to build a dust cleaning schedule for the cleanliness of pellet machines’ surface.