Several industrial environments are classified as Hazardous Areas: places where explosion risks exist, or may exist, due to the presence of combustible and flammable substances and potential sources of ignition.
The protection of equipment and people operating in these environments can be ensured essentially in 3 ways:
- the prevention of the formation of explosive atmospheres, or where the nature of the activity does not allow that;
- the avoidance of the ignition of explosive atmospheres;
- the mitigation of the detrimental effects of an explosion.
One of the most effective method to avoid ignition of explosive atmosphere is limiting energy levels in the system so that ignition of a hazardous atmosphere cannot occur, particularly regarding electrical and electronic equipment.
Intrinsic safety’s method consists in designing plants in a way that limits the amount of energy present in the circuits (thus avoiding the explosion of the potentially explosive mixture), either under normal conditions or in the event of a failure.
It has proved to be the simplest and most cost-effective method to ensure explosion protection in industrial plants, as it is based on prevention rather than on limitation of damages. According to ATEX Directives standards for Hazardous Areas, intrinsic safety isone of the few admitted in zones classified 0 (at greater risk).
Intrinsically safe loops are the best solution for explosion protection in industrial plants; also because the low voltage they provide ensures the protection of people operating on them. Moreover, such devices can eliminate any risk related to human error.
They do not require special cables: standard wiring can be used providing if it is properly identified (typically with blue coloring). In Addition, equipment calibration and maintenance can be carried out while the system is operating, with significant savings in time and money.