What is Intrinsically Safe Rating?
What is intrinsically safe Rating?
Countless businesses and industries are at risk of catching fire. While the threat is obvious in many circumstances, it can be less noticeable in others. This is why deterring accidental explosions and fires is a primary concern because no organization or company wants to be blamed for fatalities or injuries. And luckily, with intrinsically safe ratings, businesses and organizations are able to create safe work environments for themselves and their employees.
But what exactly is an intrinsically safe rating? This is a question we often receive here at Keltour, which is why we’ve decided to break down the ins and outs of intrinsically safe ratings below. Keep reading for more information.
What is Intrinsically Safe Rating?
Before diving further into intrinsically safe ratings, the first thing we need to do is define what it is. Essentially, “intrinsically safe” is a design concept used in safety-critical systems, notably in electrical engineering. An intrinsically safe system cannot discharge sufficient electrical or thermal energy under normal or anomalous conditions to cause the ignition of a particular dangerous atmospheric combination. This is often used in industries such as petrochemical plants and mines, where flammable gasses may be present.
Intrinsically safe equipment is designed to operate at levels below the minimum ignition energy of the hazardous atmosphere in which it is used. This means that even if the equipment fails, it will not produce enough energy to ignite the surrounding environment. The objective of intrinsically safe design is to deter accidental fires and explosions, which can be caused by electrical equipment that is not adequately designed for the unstable environment in which it is used.
What is meant by intrinsically safe?
Intrinsically safe means that a piece of equipment or system is designed so that it cannot release enough energy to ignite a flammable gas or dust in a hazardous environment. This is typically achieved by limiting the amount of electrical and thermal energy the equipment can forge and developing the equipment to be robust and invulnerable to failure. As such, for equipment and systems to be considered intrinsically safe, they must be certified by a regulatory board prior to them being used or sold on the market for industrial use.
What is the difference between intrinsically safe and non-intrinsically safe?
A piece of machinery or system that is intrinsically safe is one that is crafted to not discharge enough energy to ignite a combustible gas or debris in dangerous conditions. On the other hand, non-intrinsically safe equipment is not intended to meet these safety regulations. This indicates that it has the potential to emit dangerous levels of energy, which could ignite a highly flammable gas or debris in a hazardous condition.
In industries where flammable gases may be existent, such as chemical plants and mines, intrinsically safe machinery is generally used, whereas non-intrinsically safe machinery may be employed in contexts that do not present the same level of danger as intrinsically safe equipment or in environments where intrinsically safe equipment is not mandated by law or regulatory oversight.
Nonetheless, to guarantee the safety of employees and the surrounding area, it is critical to use an adequate type of machinery in each climate.
What makes an item intrinsically safe?
To be deemed intrinsically safe, an item must be tested by a qualified laboratory to confirm that it fulfills the necessary safety standards. It must also be labeled or marked as intrinsically safe, and the manufacturer must provide documentation certifying its intrinsic safety.
Intrinsically safe equipment is generally designed with a number of safety features to thwart the discharge of unstable levels of energy. These may include:
- Limiting the amount of electrical and thermal energy that the equipment can generate
- Designing the equipment to be strong and insusceptible to failure
- Assuring that the equipment has a low probability of malfunction
- Using technical components that are resistant to ignition
Ultimately, the specific design features of intrinsically safe equipment will depend on the precise hazardous environment in which it is used and the regulations and standards that apply to that environment.
Does intrinsically safe mean explosion-proof?
Intrinsically safe and explosion-proof are two distinct concepts frequently employed in safety-critical systems as being similar, even though they are, in fact, different. As we said earlier, intrinsically safe means the design of a system or piece of equipment that is unable to release sufficient electrical or thermal energy even when it fails.
On the other hand, explosion-proof refers to the ability of a system or equipment to contain an explosion that occurs within it. Explosion-proof equipment is designed to withstand an internal blast and avert the explosion from reproducing in the surrounding area.
So, while intrinsically safe equipment is devised to thwart explosions from transpiring in the first place, explosion-proof equipment is developed to control and withstand a blast if it does happen.
How do you know if equipment is intrinsically safe?
To thwart ignition in a dangerous environment, it is essential to undervalue both the available power and the maximum temperatures of the equipment. Generally, equipment with a voltage of less than 29V and a current of less than 300 mA, or power less than 1.3 W, is intrinsically safe. Additionally, equipment with a temperature rating of T4 or lower, which means it will not exceed 135°C (275°F), is also considered intrinsically safe. This is because equipment that distributes less than 1.3 W typically lingers below this temperature.