Fire-Resistant Hydraulic Fluids
Mineral oils are highly flammable and often are a serious source of fire hazards in high-temperature environments and applications close to open flames or heated metal parts. The risk is further increased by the rapid and aggressive Ignition rate of mineral oils. Today mineral oil dangers present industries with very real major risks including disruption in operation, plant shut down, and threats to worker safety. One way to reduce these risks is by replacing the mineral oil with a fire-resistant hydraulic fluid.
Ignition of Hydraulic Fluid Sprays by Open Flames and Hot Surfaces
Hydraulic fluids are widely used in a range of industries. One of the hazards of pressurized hydraulic fluids is that they can present a considerable fire hazard. When a spray is released under pressure, it can be ignited readily by hot surfaces such as heated or molten metal, electric furnaces, open frames and welding arcs. The frequency of fires involving hydraulic fluids has prompted the introduction of fire-resistant hydraulic fluids. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health conducted a study that compares the ignition results of non-fire-resistant hydraulic fluid sprays with the results of fire-resistant hydraulic fluids.
Reference: Yuan, Liming. “Ignition of Hydraulic Fluid Sprays by Open Flames and Hot Surfaces.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.
How to Prevent Hydraulic Oil Fires
To provide the appropriate protection in manufacturing operations it is necessary to assess the risks related to the use of non-fire-resistant hydraulic fluids. Typically mineral oil is the fluid chosen to operate hydraulic systems, due to the technical benefits and price. However, because hydraulic systems are highly pressurized flames from a hydraulic oil fire can spread reaching other combustible material rapidly increasing the reach of the fire. When assessing fire related risks, the three main parts of the hydraulic system should be looked at, the pump unit, the piping system, and the drives, because an oil fire can cause immediate damage to any one of these parts. The simplest way to mitigate these risks is to change to a non-combustible fluid. Or the risk of fire can be eliminated by using electric or pneumatic drives instead of hydraulic drives.
Fire Hazards of Hydraulic Systems
Typically, industries that utilize hydraulic systems fail to apply ways to prevent and control hazards caused by these systems. As a result fires involving both the equipment and fluid often occur. Global Asset Protection Services put together a guide to help these companies identify the hazards associated with hydraulic fluids, and also explain how to reduce these hazards, some of these ways include the hydraulic fluid type used, the piping system design, operation and maintenance, and the systems interlock design, housekeeping, and an automatic fire protection design.
Understanding the Benefit FM Approved Industrial Lubricants
Hydraulic fluids are part of a lot of operations in everyday life – from stopping our automobiles to compressing our trash, to generating and transmitting electricity. These fluids are also used extensively in a wide range of manufacturing industries. However, in these industries, if the pressurized fluids are released they typically result in an atomized spray or mist that can easily ignite when it contacts a hot surface, open flame or electric arc. Using a fluid in a hydraulic system that has been FM approved can prevent or significantly reduce the extent of damage in a fire.