To prevent these risks, the priority is to prevent the formation of explosive atmospheres (ATEX) or prevent the danger of explosion caused by the use of electric motors by acting beforehand, especially when choosing equipment and establishing production processes.
In the ATEX environment, what is an alternative to electric motors?
An electric motor is a device capable of transforming electromagnetic energy into mechanical energy. Electric motors are available in a wide variety of sizes, powers, and configurations for extremely varied functions. These motors, numerous in industries and tertiary facilities, have some drawbacks however. Among the most notable:
An explosive atmosphere, also called ATEX (EXplosive ATmospheres), is a mixture of air (oxygen from the air acting as the oxidizer) and flammable substances, combustible in the form of fumes, gases, or dust, are likely, after ignition, to propagate combustion. An ATEX can explode when it is in the presence of an ignition source caused by excessively high temperatures, sparks, and the presence of various gases (methane, propane, ethylene, acetylene, hydrogen, etc.), fumes (carbon sulphate, ethyl alcohol, ethylene oxide, or acetone) or dust (aluminum, starches, grains, or coal).
An air motor, or compressed air motor, is a motor that gets its mechanical power from the expansion of a gas, usually compressed air. This energy vector is safe, clean, reliable, and easy to use, store and transport, and is commonly used in the industrial sector.
Since July 1, 2003, equipment must meet the requirements of directive 94/9/EC on the conformity of the installation of new equipment in an industrial environment. ATEX certification and labeling guarantees the inherent explosion risk in these environments, in the same way as any other occupational risk.
ATEX-certified air motors; alternatives to electric motors are particularly recommended in hazardous environment where the risk of sparks or high temperatures are likely to ignite explosive gases, dust or fumes. With the absence of any electrical part in an air motor, the probability of a spark or explosion in the presence of a flammable gas is zero. In addition, when the motor turns, the air expansion cools the air motor. The more it turns, the more it cools. So, it can be used in high temperature atmospheres.
The use of air motors also allows you to eliminate the power grid itself in the ATEX area. The danger often comes from the network itself. The power supply cables can be damaged, torn or simply worn; many electrical connections are weak points, and so are the devices for control/command and protection. A compressed air network is simple and completely harmless, even if one of its components becomes deteriorated.
Overall, making sure the entire electrical system is in compliance with the ATEX standard is considerably more complex and expensive than using air motors.
To learn more about air motor, have a look on our handbook !