Dangers of Dust/ Vapor Combustion


Where would you find more information about the dangers of combustion of dust or vapors in the workshop.
I have a natural gas furnace in the workshop which has a constant-on pilot light. I would think that the concentration of dust would have to be extremely thick before an explosion would ignite, but I do want to be safe.
Steve
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Mr Fixit eh wrote:

Vapors from inflammible liquids can easily cause an explosion under those circumstances.
If you use Google to search the rec.woodworking archives you will find the issue of dust explosions in a home workshop rather hotly debated.
My conclusion is that you would be hard pressed to produce dust fast enough to cause an explosion but if dust accumulates somewhere and goes airborn en masses, say for example on top of something that gets tipped over toward the furnace then you could get a high enough concentration to get a whoomf. That'd be like throwing a handful of sawdust onto an open flame, it most definately ignites.
I do recall reading, but do not recall where, an account of an actual fire by one woodworker. He observerd a short wall of flame, only a couple of inches high, move from the ignition source accross the room. Not an explosion, just a fire, the flame front moved slowly enough that he was able to beat it to the stairs. Evidently the dust concentration near the floor (and only near the floor) was high enough to support combustion.
Then again, maybe he was working some sort of exotic wood with a toxin that causes halucinations.
There are other issues as well like dust being blown through the ducts or accumulating and growing moldy getting parts of the furnace dirty so it doesn't burn efficiently. Inefficient burning means more CO. Is the furnace flueless?
--

FF


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The "hotly debated issue" of dust explosions was about static electricity from dust collection causing them. The OP's question was about ignition from a natural gas pilot - a completely different and very real concern. It definitely has the energy to ignite something, if there is sufficient fuel and air.
My humble opinion is that management of the dust in a similar manner as you would for health should be sufficient.
Bob
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I use an open flame propane heater and it has never "caught fire" from the dist but I've intentionally kicked up enough to see tiny glowing particles when the fan blows them through the flame. Not much of a concern under normal conditions.
Fumes though, can go whooooooosh real fast.
--
Ed
http://pages.cthome.net/edhome/



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My Hugely unscientific test:
I have a small radiant heater perched on top of a 20# propane cylinder. I took a handful of sawdust and blew it into the heater. It flared when it hit the red hot screen. Didn't even "poof". I figured that was way more sawdust in the air then I would ever generate, so I'm not too worried about explosions.
I don't use gasoline in the shop, so I am not too worried about vapors, but if there was any concentration at all, I'd turn off the heat.
Walt C

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I too have a propane fueled torpedo heater, Never have I noticed any possible ignition from any of the dust I throw out. And as a matter of fact Mythbusters (on Discovery) actually did a sequence on just this scenerio. They built a blastproof cabinet, put in an ignition source several I believe. They put in so much saw dust and it barely flashed. The only thing that developed flame was a fume source.
Searcher1
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I used to have a open flame propane heater next to my bandsaw before I had a dc. all it did was burn the sawdust. you really need a cloud to get anything. if you had that much of a cloud you could not work in the shop.
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