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Hyperlast conquers explosive environment

01 February 2007

Hyperlast Ltd has increased production capacity and plant safety as part of a £160,000 project completed by chemical engineering specialist Haden Freeman Ltd (HFL).

Derbyshire based Hyperlast produces insulating material for coating underwater pipe work. Production includes transferring unexpanded polymer from large bags to an expander.

For continuous production the company turned to HFL to provide an efficient transportation method for the powder polymer. Transporting the polymer requires extreme care as each sphere contains many toxic chemicals and risk of fire is high. Lack of containment could cause a dust explosion and damage the surrounding countryside.

The tiny particle size of the powder polymer creates a risk for plant personnel, who could inhale the dust so, to boost safety, Hyperlast previously made the polymer in small batteries. The company claims this greatly reduced production speed.

HFL changed the handling and transportation process in a bid to obviate these problems.

Cameron Hammond, operation and technical manager at Hyperlast said: “We have enjoyed an excellent working relationship with Haden Freeman. Problems were identified early and resolved quickly.”

Previously the powder polymer was pumped using diaphragm pumps and a mixture of solids and air was pulled through a pumping mechanism. HFL replaced the air in the pumps with nitrogen to minimise the risk of an explosive atmosphere forming.

A push to improve personal safety included a special discharge mechanism, allowing the powder polymer to be discharged at a constant feed into the expander, that removed the need for a manned operation.

A nitrogen blanketing system was also fitted to the intermediate silos where the powder polymer was transferred. This ensured that the oxygen levels in the silos remained below five percent, maintaining a non-explosive atmosphere. An oxygen analyser controlled these levels. Earth bonding pipework, flexible hoses and equipment to minimise the risk of static spark further reduced the risk of a flammable atmosphere developing.

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