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Reports of 26 coal pulverizer fires and explosions are reviewed in order to elucidate causes and preventive measures. Most of the explosions occurred during pulverizer shutdowns or restarts. The most common ignition scenario involved coal dust accumulations in the mill spontaneously igniting and coming in contact with a flammable coal dust-air suspension during a mill shutdown or restart. Detection of spontaneous combustion by pulverizer outlet temperature alarms (and, to a lesser extent, carbon monoxide analyzers) has not been reliable. Improvements are needed in the detection of incipient mill fires and the effective use of inert gas purges to prevent destructive pulverizer explosions.
coal pulverizers, coal dust, fires and explosions, inerting
Manager, Factory Mutual Research Corp., Norwood, MA