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Have you filled your vehicle with fuel —petrol, diesel, natural gas—lately? Then you were standing in the middle of a Hazardous Location or a potentially EXplosive ATmosphere. EU ATEX regulations require that devices used in these areas are intrinsically safe, including some of their inside components. Choosing compliant batteries can decrease the certification phase and time-to-market.
An explosive atmosphere is defined as a combination of dangerous substances with air, under atmospheric conditions, in the form of gases, vapors, mist or dust, creating a risk of combustion and explosion. Many workplaces and activities are being defined as explosive or potentially explosive atmospheres, the most obvious being petrol stations and chemical processing plants, but also surface coating industries, wood or grain storages, sugar refineries, or sewage treatment plants.
To prevent serious injuries as well as significant damage, the EU has regulated the use of equipment in potentially explosive atmospheres by applying a number of directives describing the minimum safety requirements for such workplaces and equipment: The ATEX directives.
The term ATEX is a French acronym for ATmosphères EXplosives.
The directive defines the essential health and safety requirements and conformity assessment procedures, to be applied before products are placed on the EU market. The term “ATEX” is often misused: some people associate the term ATEX with hazardous products in general whereas it only concerns the EU directive regarding the use of electrical or non-electrical equipment in an explosive atmosphere.
There are two ATEX Directives:
These directives are applicable only to the EU but there are many similar national schemes all over the world. The US has an equivalent system, covered mostly by the National Electrical Code (NEC) which is administered by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Other US Government entities and national associations also have input to standards dealing with Hazardous Locations (HazLoc) such as OSHA, MSHA, ANSI and UL. Even with the regulatory diversity in the United States, the requirements are somewhat comparable with the EU ATEX directive.
At the center of all these national regulatory frameworks is the IEC and its IECEx Certification System. The IECEx offers a global framework for equipment, repair facilities or personal competence, in hazardous areas. It sets International Standards and facilitates the operation of Conformity Assessment Systems for manufacturers, regulators and users of equipment, a prerequisite to ensure safety.
Well, if you are not planning on rolling out to market an application destined to be used in explosive atmospheres, you can stop reading now!
If you are, though, you have to know that the ATEX Directive 2014/34/EU regulation applies to all equipment intended for use in explosive atmospheres, whether electrical or mechanical, including protective systems. Which means that any IoT monitoring or telemetry system such as tank monitoring systems, valve sensors, level sensors, gas detectors, temperature sensors, etc. and all their components —including batteries— have to be IECEx certified or compliant if they are to be installed or used in hazardous locations.
And as a prerequisite to be used in an IECEx certified equipment, components may be required to meet certain IEC standards.
As an IoT developer, you will therefore need to carefully choose each of the components of your system….
IECEx certified equipment carries the “Ex” mark, while partially tested components will not, — but their Test Reports (ExTR) can be found listed on the IECEx database to be referenced by Ex equipment designers and manufacturers. A cell by itself can be the recipient of an IECEx Report of Partial Testing, (ExTR) issued by a Notified Body Test Laboratory (ExNB) which demonstrates its suitability as a component by testing its compliance against the relevant requirements of IEC 60079-0 and IEC 60079-11.
The compliant cell can then be confidently integrated into the overall design of a piece of equipment, generally without further testing, due to the IEC principle of mutual recognition (reciprocal acceptance) of test results between certification bodies and test labs. This helps decrease the time to market for Ex equipment designers.
Within the design of the Ex equipment, the cell obtains further protection (electronic protection, insulation from the hazardous environment - dusts, gasses) in which the equipment is intended to be used.
Saft is offering a number of solutions for use in explosive atmospheres; either as a partially tested component or certified equipment. Saft batteries’ long lifetime is also an advantage to avoid replacement in remote or hard-to-reach locations.
Below, you’ll find a list of Saft batteries to power your devices in potentially explosive atmospheres, subject to full testing of your own application.
And if you are working on an application destined to be used in potentially explosive atmospheres and you’d like to find out more about how our products and our expertise can help you get ATEX or IECEx certifications, get in touch.
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