29th March 2018
Dust explosions remain an under-reported issue, but a very real concern in the pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing industry.
Combustible or explosive dust can be described as any finely divided particulate solid, which presents a fire or explosion hazard when dispersed in the air.
The powdered and granulated ingredients which are central to pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing processes are naturally prone to creating dust, which can become airborne.
Once the airborne dust is captured at its source, it must be effectively contained. This reduces the risks of a further, more devastating dust explosion, and reduces the risk of cross-contamination in sensitive products.
ATEX zones are critical areas subject to high volumes of dust or gases, in which an explosive atmosphere could occur during ordinary operation, or through unattended risks.
‘ATEX zones are risky due to the high concentration of flammable dust and powders in a confined environment, combined with reduced humidity rates and high or low temperature levels,’ explains Andrea Catellono of A.C. Supply.
‘ATEX zones, generally, should implement dissipative flooring throughout the area. Good dissipation is a mandatory safety requirement in a critical zone.’
We recently caught up with Electrostatic Discharge specialist and Asia Sales Director, Jhun Yparraguirre, who has worked closely with Dycem to help international businesses in Asia, including Samsung in Indonesia with their queries surrounding ESD.
Many Electronic manufacturing companies have an important use for expert advice such as Jhun’s, when it comes to ensuring they get the best possible facilities to manufacture their product successfully.
In simple terms, how is Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) generated?
“Electrostatic discharge is a rapid transfer of static charge which occurs between objects at different voltages when they make contact.”
Is it difficult to control wheeled traffic in an ESD environment?
JY: “No. As long as your flooring is ESD safe then it should be easy for you to control. Know your flooring system, and whether it is conductive or static dissipative, as the resistance values are different.
Once you have ESD flooring, make sure that your carts are made of stainless steel. Metal is a good conductive material.
Also be aware of your casters. Some casters are not made from ESD materials. This is why some end users choose metal casters, as they offer good continuity from the surface to the ground. Otherwise, a good design of drag chain is very helpful for the dissipation of static charge.”
What types of contamination are likely to trigger ESD? Where do they come from?
JY: “Dust is one enemy which triggers ESD events. Let’s go back to basic physics and chemistry…
· Dust, or particles can be referred to singularly as an Atom.
· An atom is the smallest component of an element, embodying the chemical properties of the element.
· An atom has two different potentials; a proton and an electron.”
Can you differentiate the two?
· A proton is a stable particle with positive charge equal to the negative charge of an electron
· An electron is an elementary particle which orbits the nucleus of an atom and is responsible for the flow of electricity
Particles can be generated from anywhere and everywhere, from humans, to material, to machines, etc.”
How important is it to control ESD in an electronics facility, and what kind of impact does it have on everyday operations?
JY: “It can cause problems, such as high reject rates, high costs, loss in revenue and unsatisfied customers or angry clients.”
How does ESD threaten product quality? Are there any other dangers involved?
JY: “Devices become more sensitive to ESD as technology advances. Device geometries are made smaller to increase density and electronic/storage capacity. The more wafer-sized the component, the greater the capacity to store charge.
As technology develops, device geometries are radically reduced to deliver more speed, increased memory capacity and more features.
Historically, these improvements have caused devices’ ESD threshold to go down.”
What are the biggest contamination threats facing electronics manufacturers today?
JY: “As mentioned, technology right now is moving more and more towards nanotechnology. The smaller the device is, the more storage it can generate but this makes it more susceptible to damages caused by:
1. An ESD event,
2. Poor contamination control.
As a result, restrictions on cleanroom environments are getting more advanced and more stern.”
How can these risks be prevented, and how does Dycem help to reduce the risks?
JY: “Dycem is a good contamination control solution, as it restricts 80% of the gross contamination source (dust and bigger particles) from entering critical environments, which is mostly found on floors.
Furthermore, Dycem is a flooring system that does its job, by trapping the particles so that they are unable to enter critical environments. Dycem can withstand overstriking due to its suppleness and natural tackiness. Before cleaning, dirt will stay on the surface of the flooring system, which is good because it will therefore not be cross-contaminating with other areas.
20% of gross contamination is airborne, and Dycem has the van der Waals properties which possess a short electromagnetic force that attracts particles towards the surface of the Dycem polymer.
Thirdly, Dycem is easily washable and does not generate a daily waste unlike the traditional peel-off mat.”
Click for more information about how Dycem has helped the Electronic Manufacturing Industry