Grain dust is highly flammable and can instantly ignite when exposed to increased temperature or even a small spark. An explosion occurs, and rarely is it a single event. Explosions can propagate in a chain reaction to other areas and even to connected facilities through technological communication channels.
Primary explosions often occur in storage containers such as bunkers and silos. Dust that accumulates in corners is particularly hazardous. The shockwave lifts the suspended particles upward, turning it into fuel for secondary explosions.
During the initial explosion, it is possible to mitigate the pressure build-up by opening windows and doors. However, during secondary and subsequent explosions, the pressure becomes so intense that this method no longer works.
A grain dust explosion involves the instantaneous ignition of particles. In terms of destructive force, it surpasses dynamite and, in enclosed spaces, leads to the generation of excessive pressure that significantly exceeds the structural capacity of reinforced concrete.
According to grain dust explosion statistics, as reported by a source in West Lafayette, Indiana, the United States experienced a total of nine incidents in 2022, demonstrating an increase from the seven incidents reported in 2021. These figures also indicate that the average number of explosions per year over the past decade stands at 7.8. These statistics highlight the ongoing concern and need for preventive measures in the grain industry to mitigate the risks associated with grain dust explosions.
Why does grain dust explode? Agricultural dust can explode under certain conditions due to its combustible nature and the presence of an ignition source. When grain is processed or handled, fine particles of dust are generated and become suspended in the air. If the airborne particle concentration reaches a critical level and encounters an ignition source (sparks, open flames, or electrical equipment), it can cause a dust explosion. That's why grain dust is so explosive.