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What is ATEX?

ATEX stands for the French term “ATmosphères EXplosibles”, or an explosive atmosphere.  This is defined as: a mixture with air, under atmospheric conditions, of flammable substances in the form of gases, vapours, mists or dusts in which, after ignition has occurred, combustion spreads to the entire unburned mixture.
The ATEX 114 (2014/34/EU) Directive is specially designed for equipment that is used in locations where there is a risk of explosion and sets out regulations for equipment (electrical and non-electrical) and safety systems in locations (“zones”) where a dust or gas explosion risk may occur.

ATEX consists of 3 categories: Categories 1, 2 and 3

These categories in turn consist of zones for dust (Zones 20, 21 and 22) and zones for gas (Zone 0, 1 and 2)
Definition of categories: Category 1 is the strictest and Category 3 is the lowest (least strict) category.

Definition of “Gas” zones: Zone 0 is the strictest and therefore highest zone and Zone 2 is therefore the lowest zone.

Zone 0
An area in which a cloud of flammable substances in the form of gases, vapours, or mists in combination with air is present for long periods or repeatedly.
- More than 1000 hours per year

Zone 1
An area in which a mixture of flammable substances in the form of gases, vapours, or mists in combination with air can occasionally become explosive during normal operating conditions.
- Between 10 and 1,000 hours per year

Zone 2
An area in which a mixture of flammable substances in the form of gases, vapours, or mists in combination with air is unlikely during normal operating conditions.  Or, if this does occur, such an occurrence is of brief duration.
- Less than 10 hours per year

For “Dust” zones: Zone 20 is the highest and Zone 22 the lowest.

Zone 20
An area in which a cloud of flammable dust is present in the air for long periods or repeatedly.
- More than 1000 hours per year

Zone 21
An area in which a cloud of flammable dust can occasionally be present in the air in normal operation.
- Between 10 and 1,000 hours per year

Zone 22
An area in which a cloud of flammable dust in the air in normal operation is unlikely.  And, if this does occur, the duration is brief.
- Less than 10 hours per year

All zones have separate ATEX certification.  A product that is only certified for gas explosion should not simply be used in a dust explosion hazard environment.

Material groups

At present there are 2 material groups, i.e.: Material groups I and II

  • Material group I applies to all underground (mining) installations (methane)
  • Material group II relates to all other above-ground installations

Temperature classes and maximum surface temperature

When a gas mix or dust cloud comes into contact with an item (e.g. heating elements, mechanical motors, electrical motors and light bulbs) at a temperature that is equal to or higher than the ignition temperature of this flammable gas or dust cloud, an explosion may occur.

For mixtures of various gasses or dusts, the gas or dust with the lowest ignition temperature is always decisive, unless other data are known.

Gas explosion-protected material is assigned to temperature groups (classes) or “T classes”, based on the highest occurring surface temperature of the material in question.

To avoid ignition, this maximum surface temperature must be lower than the ignition temperature of the gas, vapour, mist or dust mixture.

Material that is assigned to a certain temperature class may then be used for gasses with an ignition temperature that is higher than the temperature of that group.

Therefore material that has a maximum surface temperature of 80°C may be used for all gasses and dusts that ignite at a temperature higher than 85°C.  Because most gasses ignite above this temperature, this means that this material is assigned to temperature class T6, the highest possible class.

Temperature class Maximum permissible surface temperature
T1 450 °C
T2 300 °C
T3 200 °C
T4 135 °C
T5 100 °C
T6 85 °C

 

Click here for more information about ATEX and Compact folding doors

Source: www.euronorm.net, www.bartec.nl

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