Articles

Spring Cleaning for Your Cooling Towers

It’s been a warm winter. When will you need to use your cooling systems? Whether you have cooling towers, heat exchanger coils or roof top air handling units, the time to start thinking about spring cleaning is now.
Think back to last season. Did you have any problems or challenges with your systems? They haven’t gotten any better over the winter. Make sure your systems are working at peak performance; it is a necessary part of your process and system optimization.
Cleaning cooling towers and associated cooling systems reduces the build-up of accumulated nutrients, airborne dirt and debris. In addition, water that contains salts such as magnesium carbonate and calcium carbonate are less soluble in hot water than they are in cold. These deposits, along with the scum that accumulates in cooling systems, can drastically reduce the efficiency, which could affect production processes and chiller operations.
Fouled cooling towers and systems have been shown to reduce efficiency by 40% to 50%. To keep them performing efficiently your cooling towers should be cleaned twice a year, in the fall at the end of the operational season, and again in the spring before being placed back into service.
At Beacon Industrial Services our employees are trained in the proper procedures for Cooling Tower Cleaning. It is important that skilled personnel using all the proper PPE and correct equipment are available to ensure that the job is completed in a professional manner.
Schedule your maintenance appointment with Beacon Industrial Services now. Don’t wait until the first warm day to discover unexpected problems with your equipment.


Don’t Let Dust Accumulation Become an Explosive Situation

This entry was posted on Monday, January 31st, 2011 and is filed under the category Combustible Dust, Industrial Cleaning.

On February 7, 2008, the United States was jolted into awareness of the dangers of combustible dust (ComDust) when an explosion –possibly caused by static electricity igniting fine sugar dust that had become too dry – at an Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, GA killed 14 people and injured more than 40 others.

Unfortunately, as tragic as it was, the Imperial Sugar explosion was only the tip of the iceberg. A recent Dust Hazard Study by the Chemical Safety Board (CSB), for example, states there were 281 ComDust incidents from 1980-2005, or an average of 11 incidents annually. Even this, however, understates the problem. According to media accounts of ComDust related incidents since 2008, there have on an average 12 incidents a month. This would equate to approximately 4,000 ComDust incidents during the 1980-2005 timeframe.

OSHA’s National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Combustible Dust calls attention to the agency’s rigorous expectations for combustible dust-related explosion prevention. The NEP also outlines what OSHA auditors will be looking for during their visits, such as dust accumulation of more than 1/32”, the thickness of a paperclip, covering more than 5% of a plant.

OSHA defines combustible dust as “a combustible particulate solid that presents a fire or deflagration hazard when suspended in air or some other oxidizing medium over a range of concentrations, regardless of particle size or shape.” Deflagration is a technical term describing that propagates through hot burning material heating the next layer of cold material and igniting it.

Materials susceptible to deflagration include, but are not limited to:

  • Metal dust such as aluminium and magnesium
  • Wood dust
  • Coal and other carbon dusts
  • Plastic dust and additives
  • Biological solids
  • Other organic dust such as sugar, flour, paper, soap, and dried blood
  • Certain textile materials

The problem can be made even worse by the possibility of a “contained” explosion that shakes a building or containment vessel without damaging it but dislodges the accumulated dust, creating a concentrated dust cloud that can ignite and cause a secondary explosion even more severe than the first one.
OSHA’s NEP estimates there are approximately 30,000 U.S. facilities at risk for a ComDust fire or explosion. This number, however, is probably understated according to John Astad, founder of the Combustible Dust Policy Institute. He estimates that number is probably closer to 100,000 since over 50% of combustible dust related fires and explosions in 2008 occurred in national industries not referenced in the NEP.
Beacon Industrial Services strongly recommends contacting a testing company if you are unsure if the material at your facility is considered hazardous. If it is, implementing a comprehensive maintenance plan that focuses on removing dust from overhead pipes, machinery and enclosed areas – a service that Beacon is uniquely qualified to provide – can significantly reduce your risk of a dust-induced fire or explosion.
Contact us for more information ph: 888-671-3939.