What Is The Difference Between Intrinsically Safe And Explosion Proof?
Safety is a top priority for almost every industry, especially for those dealing with hazardous and volatile environments. When it comes to the safe operation of electronic instruments and equipment, two terms that are often used interchangeably are "Intrinsically Safe" and "Explosion Proof." Although these terms may seem similar, they have different meanings and purposes. In this article, we'll explore the difference between intrinsically safe and explosion-proof devices.
Industries such as petroleum, chemical, and mining rely heavily on electrical and electronic equipment to carry out daily operations. These environments are also prone to explosions that put personnel, property, and the environment at risk. To manage these risks, intrinsically safe and explosion-proof devices have been developed for use in such areas. However, the difference between these two safety mechanisms is not always clear. This article explores the differences between intrinsically safe and explosion-proof devices.
What is Intrinsically Safe?
Intrinsically safe electronics are designed in such a way that they do not generate heat, spark, or any other form of ignition. The term "intrinsically safe" refers to a type of protection technique specifically used to manage extremely hazardous environments. Intrinsically safe equipment ensures that any potential electrical or thermal energy that could ignite flammable gases, vapors, or dust is kept below levels where ignition could occur. Additionally, the equipment is protected from overvoltages and currents that might be present in the power source.
Intrinsically safe devices require special components that enable them to operate within safety parameters. These components limit the current and voltage to a level that is incapable of igniting the hazardous surrounding. To achieve this level of safety, intrinsically safe devices are often designed to use low power levels and high resistance elements. These safety features protect the device and operator from the hazard that they're working in.
What is Explosion Proof?
Explosion proof devices, on the other hand, protect electrical equipment from potential explosions by restricting any sparks that might ignite flammable substances in hazardous locations. Explosion-proof devices are specifically designed to contain an internal explosion, preventing it from spreading beyond the device. They are commonly used when the hazardous environment is too explosive, such that it's just too difficult to control by design. Explosion-proof enclosures have been tested to withstand the pressure and contain flames or arcs that may occur inside.
Explosion-proof devices are good at stopping the spread of ignition, but they don't necessarily guarantee that there will never be an explosion. An explosion-proof device is designed with a sturdy enclosure that can withstand an explosion on the inside without transmitting the explosion or flames to the external environment.
What is the Difference between Flameproof and Intrinsically Safe?
Another term used similarly to explosion-proof and intrinsically safe is "flameproof." Flameproof refers to a type of protection used to protect against explosion, but unlike both intrinsically safe and explosion-proof, flameproof is designed to contain an explosion to the equipment. In other words, the equipment can withstand an internal explosion, but it may not reduce the energy level of the ignition or spark that may cause the explosion.
The biggest difference between an intrinsically safe device and explosion-proof or flameproof devices is that intrinsically safe devices prevent ignition altogether. They never exceed safe levels of current or voltage in the electrical circuit. Explosion-proof devices are designed to contain the ignition, whereas flameproof devices are designed to contain the explosion. Intrinsically safe devices will stop an explosion from occurring in the first place.
Understanding the Safety Risks
When working in hazardous environments, there are several risks that need to be considered before choosing between intrinsically safe or explosion-proof devices. In such scenes, even a small spark can set off a massive explosion or fire, putting all those in the vicinity in danger.
Intrinsically safe devices are best suited to hazardous areas where electrical equipment could generate a spark or heat that could ignite flammable gases or vapors. The devices that operate under these conditions must never generate sparking or thermal energy, and have to conform to strict requirements of certification. Such intricate components make them costly, and low in power output.
Explosion-proof devices are better suited to hazardous areas where the flammable substance is present in the atmosphere at a concentration too high for intrinsically safe devices to handle. Even though these devices are less expensive than the intrinsically safe equipment, they are relatively bulky and less powerful in output, making them less efficient.
While both intrinsically safe and explosion-proof devices protect personnel and equipment from potential danger, they differ in their design and intended purpose. Intrinsically safe devices prevent ignition or avoid generating a spark or thermal energy altogether, while explosion-proof devices are focused on preventing an ignition from spreading. In addition, flameproof devices are designed to contain the explosion to the device or equipment. Understanding the differences between the devices can help companies choose the most suitable protection technique for their hazardous environment. It is important to research your environment and the type of protection required before purchasing intrinsically safe or explosion-proof devices.