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Hazardous Areas Classification and Protection For North America

Electrical devices used in hazardous areas need to be certified for use according the
requirements specified for the area.
In North America, certification is provided by:

Factory Mutual (FM) - An approval agency primarily concerned with insurance


underwriting.
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) - An independent, not-for-profit product safety testing and
certification organization.
Canadian Standards Association (CSA) - A not-for-profit membership-based association
serving business, industry, government and consumers in Canada developing standards
addressing public safety and health.

The type of protection required depends on the risk involved in the area. In general, hazardous
locations in North America are separated by classes, divisions, and groups to define the level of
safety required for equipment installed in these locations.
Classes
The classes defines the general nature of hazardous material in the surrounding atmosphere.
Class

Hazardous Material in Surrounding Atmosphere

Class I

Hazardous because flammable gases or vapors are present in the air in


quantities sufficient to produce explosive or ignitable mixtures.

Class II

Hazardous because combustible or conductive dusts are present.

Class III

Hazardous because ignitable fibers or flying's are present, but not likely
to be in suspension in sufficient quantities to produce ignitable mixtures.
(Group classifications are not applied to this class.)

Divisions
The division defines the probability of hazardous material being present in an ignitable
concentration in the surrounding atmosphere.
Division

Presence of Hazardous Material

Division 1

The substance referred to by class is present during normal conditions.

Division 2

The substance referred to by class is present only in abnormal


conditions, such as a container failure or system breakdown.

Groups
The group defines the hazardous material in the surrounding atmosphere.
Group

Hazardous Material in Surrounding Atmosphere

Group A

Acetylene

Group B

Hydrogen, fuel and combustible process gases containing more than


30% hydrogen by volume or gases of equivalent hazard such as
butadiene, ethylene, oxide, propylene oxide and acrolein.

Group C

Ethyl and ethylene or gases of equivalent hazard.

Group D

Gasoline, acetone, ammonia, benzene, butane, cyclopropane, ethanol,


hexane, methanol, methane, natural gas, naphtha, propane or gases of
equivalent hazard.

Group E

Combustible metal dusts, including aluminum, magnesium and their


commercial alloys or other combustible dusts whose particle size,
abrasiveness and conductivity present similar hazards in connection with
electrical equipment.

Group F

Carbonaceous dusts, coal black, charcoal, coal or coke dusts that have
more than 8% total entrapped volatiles or dusts that have been sesitized
by other material so they present an explosion hazard.

Group G

Flour dust, grain, wood, plastic and chemicals.

The specific hazardous materials within each group and their automatic ignition temperatures can
be found in Article 500 of the National Electrical Code and in NFPA 497.
Group A, B, C and D apply to class I locations. Group E, F and G apply to class II locations.
Temperature Code
A mixture of hazardous gases and air may ignite in contact with a hot surface. The condition for
ignition depends on several factors as surface area, temperature and concentration of gas.
Equipment approved receives a temperature code indicating the maximum surface temperature
of the equipment.
Temperature
Code

Maximum Surface Temperature


o

T1

842

450

T2

572

300

T2A

536

280

T2B

500

260

T2C

446

230

T2D

419

215

T3

392

200

T3A

356

180

T3B

329

165

T3C

320

160

T4

275

135

T4A

248

120

T5

212

100

T6

185

85

Equipment that not exceed a maximum surface temperature of 212 oF (104 oF ambient
temperature) is not required to be marked with a temperature code (NEC).
Recommended reading for this topic:

National Electrical Code, NFPA 70, Chapter 5, Article 500


29 CFR 1910 Subpart S, Electrical 1910.307
NFPA 497, "Classification of Gases, Vapors, and Dusts for Electrical Equipment in
Hazardous Classified Locations"
NFPA Handbook, "Electrical Installations in Hazardous Locations, " by P. J. Schram and
M. W. Earley
NFPA 70E, Chapter 5, "Hazardous (Classified) Locations"
NFPA 325, "Fire Hazard Properties of Flammable Liquids, Gases, and Volatile Solids"
ANSI/UL 913, "Intrinsically Safe Apparatus"
NFPA 496, "Purged and Pressurized Enclosure for Electrical Equipment in Hazardous
Locations."

Dust-ignition Proof, Explosion Proof, Instrinsically Safe, and Nonincendive


Protection of Hazardous Areas
Explosions of volatile liquids and gases resulting in severe fire conflagrations are real hazards,
involving high economic costs and often, injury or loss of life.
The types of protection required for electrical components in the areas depends on the risks
involved. In general, the types of protection can be summarized to:
Dust-ignition Proof
A dust ignition proof component prevents dust entering from outside. Arcs, sparks and heat
generated inside of the enclosure will not be able to ignite the exterior surroundings near the
component.
Explosion Proof
An explosion proof component is capable to keep an internal explosion of a specific flammable
air-vapor mixture within the component enclosure without releasing burning or hot gases to the
external environment which may be potential explosive. The explosion proof equipment must also
operate below safe temperatures.
The potentially sparking parts are encapsulated in a special house which is designed to prevent
explosions by

preventing the entry of hazardous material in potentially hazardous concentrations


encapsulate potential hazardous materials in a encapsulation chamber capable to
contain any explosion or fire, preventing to spread outside the chamber causing
secondary explosions

Intrinsically Safe

An intrinsically safe component is incapable of releasing sufficient electrical or thermal energy to


cause ignition of a specific hazardous substance under normal or abnormal (fault) operating
conditions. (ISA-RP12.6 - Wiring Practices for Hazardous Area Instrumentation)
In simple terms, this means that intrinsically safe equipment and wiring will limit electrical and
thermal energy to a level below what required to cause start an explosion.
Intrinsically safe equipment operates on low power levels. Safety barriers are grounded so that
they are effective under fault conditions, and intrinsic safety is provided through voltage and
current limiters. Zener diodes and resistors limiting the energy are usually mounted away from the
hazardous areas. Failure to replace enclosure covers or bolts will not imperil protection.
Intrinsically safe wiring must be separated from non-intrinsically safe wiring by at least 2 inches in
order to prevent the transfer of unsafe levels of energy to the hazardous area and it is vital that
planning and installation of intrinsically systems are done with care and attention.
Note! Intrinsically safety can be compromised after initial installation due to improper
maintenance or repair. It is important to ensure that such works are carried out properly.
Nonincendive
Nonincendive components are non-sparking and incapable of releasing sufficient electrical or
thermal energy to cause ignition of a hazardous substances under normal operating conditions.