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Feb 18, 2019 10:08:00 AM | Choosing the Right Maintenance Equipment for Coal Fired Power Generation Plants

Explosion risks are ever-present at coal fired power generation plants. Picking the right equipment for maintenance activities will help minimize that risk. Here's what to look for when choosing lighting and power distribution equipment.

While natural gas has been in the news for eroding market share from coal fired power generation plants, coal plants still provide almost 1/3 of all electricity in the U.S. And these plants have complex handling systems for all that coal, whether is it unloading, sorting, storing, or transporting throughout the facility. During maintenance of these complex systems, often lighting or temporary power is needed for a work crew to enter the location and perform repairs or cleaning.

Coal dust hazard

2600 stringlightWorking around coal, and particularly coal dust, presents a hazard – it can be explosive. The National Electric Code (NEC), NFPA 70, classifies atmospheres with coal dust as a Class II Division 1 Group F locations as areas where ignitable dusts can exist all or some of the time under normal conditions. For temporary lighting and power distribution equipment, it is important to keep these factors in mind when selecting equipment.


Eliminating the potential for spark

Explosion PentagonTo prevent explosions in areas like this, when using temporary lighting and portable power distribution, look for products rated Class II Division 1. These products are designed to confine any internal explosions to within the product's enclosure and are designed to not generate any spark outside of the product. Remember all five components, or sides, of the explosion pentagon need to exist for an explosion to occur.


Product construction

So how does a light or a power distribution unit prevent these? Here is what to look for:


For lighting, the unit will have protection guards to prevent damage to the bulb, and will be strong enough to withstand an internal explosion. Explosion proof lights are available as a hand lamp, or as a string light, with the use of explosion proof plugs.

Power Distribution

XP-EC2For power distribution equipment, the unit will utilize thick, cast aluminum enclosures that will also prevent any internal gases that internally explode from reaching the external of the unit, thus eliminating the possibility of an ignition source in the surrounding area from the unit. The units are available with specialized explosion proof receptacles.


Safety Solutions

Ericson provides explosion proof lighting and portable power distribution for the power generation, oil and gas, and industrial process industries. Visit www.ericson.com or call 1-800-ERICSON to speak to a power and light specialist.

Mark McFadden

Written By: Mark McFadden

Mark McFadden is a Market Manager at Ericson, focusing on the oil & gas, and power generation markets. He has over twenty years of experience in the electrical, manufacturing, and power generation industries, in product application, product development, and business development roles. He holds degrees in Electrical Engineering from University of Akron, and MBA from Ohio University.