How to Select Motors for Hazardous Locations

Posted - June 27, 2024

When operating in environments where safety is paramount, especially in areas prone to fire or explosion hazards, selecting the right motor is crucial. BK Industrial Solutions offers exceptional quality motors designed for safe and efficient function in hazardous locations, ensuring exceptional protection for both personnel and equipment.

Understanding Hazardous Locations

Hazardous locations are defined by the presence of flammable gases, vapors, liquids, combustible dust, or ignitable fibers that pose significant risks. According to OSHA, such areas can lead to catastrophic outcomes if not managed properly. Misapplying an electric motor in these environments can result in severe safety incidents, including explosions, property damage, and even fatalities.

Classifying Hazardous Locations

To select the appropriate motor, one must understand the classification of hazardous locations, defined by the National Electrical Code (NEC). These classifications are broken down into Classes, Divisions, and Groups, each specifying the type of hazard present and the conditions under which it exists.

Class: Type of Material Present

  • Class I – Explosive Gas: These locations contain flammable gases or vapors, such as in petroleum or ethanol processing facilities.
  • Class II – Explosive Dust: Found in industries like grain elevators and flour mills, these locations involve combustible dust that can be explosive when airborne.
  • Class III – Fibers: Areas with easily ignitable fibers or flyings, such as textile mills, fall under this class.

Division: Condition Under Which Material is Present

  • Division 1: Explosive or ignitable materials are present during normal operations.
  • Division 2: Hazardous substances are present only under abnormal conditions, such as system failures.

Group: Material Behavior

Groups further define hazardous locations based on the material’s explosive characteristics. For example, Class I locations are divided into Groups A-D, with Group A requiring the most stringent motor designs due to the severe explosive potential of materials like acetylene.

Motor Design and Requirements

Motors designed for hazardous locations must meet specific design requirements to ensure safety. For Class I, Division 1, motors need to be explosion-proof, meaning they can contain an internal explosion without rupturing. For Class II locations, motors should be dust-ignition proof, preventing combustible dust from entering the motor enclosure.

The Autoignition Temperature (AIT) of the hazardous material also plays a crucial role in motor selection. Motors must have surface temperatures below the AIT to prevent spontaneous ignition.

Simplifying Motor Selection

Given the complexity of selecting the right motor, standardization can be a practical approach. Using motors that meet or exceed multiple classification requirements reduces the risk of misapplication and streamlines inventory management, ensuring safety and efficiency across various environments.

For expert guidance in selecting the right motors for hazardous locations, contact our team at BK Industrial Solutions. Call us today at 409.838.1641, reach us through our contact form, or request a quote to ensure your operations are safe and compliant with industry standards.