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Safety Science 58 (2013) 5358

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Safety Science
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/ssci

The classication of hazardous areas where explosive gas atmospheres

may be present
Riccardo Tommasini
Politecnico di Torino, Dip. Energia, C.so Duca degli Abruzzi 24, 10129 Torino, Italy

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: The classication of hazardous areas where explosive gas atmospheres may be present is prescribed by
Received 24 January 2012 European directives, international and national standards.
Received in revised form 14 May 2012 This paper briey outlines the area classication procedure and describes the approaches adopted by
Accepted 14 March 2013
the international standard. Then a new approach to the calculation of the extent of zones, developed by
Available online 24 April 2013
the author and adopted by the Italian guide for classication of hazardous zone, is presented.
2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Risk analysis
Electrical safety
Hazardous areas classication

1. Introduction the Comitato Elettrotecnico Italiano (CEI) that is the Italian Stan-
dardization Organization.
In 1994 and 1999 the two Atex directives were published by the This paper briey outlines the area classication procedure, de-
European Parliament, respectively Directive 94/9/EC (Bruxelles, scribes the approach adopted by the international standard (IEC EN
1994) and Directive 99/92/EC (Bruxelles, 1999). The rst deals with 60079-10-1, 2009) and illustrates some equations and assessment
equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially methods developed by the authors and introduced in the new Ital-
explosive atmospheres; the latter with the safety and health pro- ian national guide (Comitato Elettrotecnico Italiano, 2007).
tection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres.
In particular, Directive 99/92/EC provides that the employer adopts 2. Area classication procedure according to the Standard IEC
adequate measures in order to: EN 60079-10-1

prevent the formation of explosive atmospheres; Whenever dangerous quantities and concentrations of amma-
avoid the ignition of the explosive atmospheres; ble gas or vapour may arise, the area classication is required by
mitigate the detrimental effects of an explosion. Standard IEC EN 60079-10-1.
Hazardous areas (in which an explosive gas atmosphere is pres-
Among these measures particularly important are: ent, or may be expected to be present) shall be classied in zones
on the basis of the frequency of occurrence and persistence of the
the classication of the places where explosive atmospheres dangerous atmosphere, as reported in Table 1.
may occur; The type of zone can be evaluated, through Table B.1 of Standard IEC
the drawing up of the explosion protection document. EN 60079-10-1, which is here reported (Table 2), knowing three param-
eters: the grade of release, the degree and availability of the ventilation.
The guidelines provided by the second Atex Directive have been Sources of release are classied in the following three grades of
adopted in the International and European Standard IEC EN 60079- release:
10-1 Classication of areas explosive gas atmospheres (IEC EN
60079-10-1, 2009). In Italy, the rules of the standard are completed continuous grade of release when the release is continuous or is
with the guidelines of the Guide CEI 31-35 Classication of haz- expected to occur frequently or for long periods;
ardous areas (Comitato Elettrotecnico Italiano, 2007) edited by primary grade of release when the release can be expected to
occur periodically or occasionally during normal operation;
secondary grade of release when the release is not expected to
Tel.: +39 0110907130; fax: +39 0110907199. occur in normal operation and, if it does occur, is likely to do so
E-mail address: riccardo.tommasini@polito.it only infrequently and for short periods.

0925-7535/$ - see front matter 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
54 R. Tommasini / Safety Science 58 (2013) 5358

Table 1 where |Qa|min is the minimum volumetric ow rate of fresh air

Zone types. needed to get a mean concentration of kLEL in the considered vol-
Zone 0 An explosive atmosphere is present continuously or for long periods ume [m3/s]; f is the efciency of the ventilation; k is a safety factor
or frequently (0,25 or 0,5); C is the number of fresh air changes per unit time;
Zone 1 An explosive atmosphere is likely to occur in normal operation |Qg|max is the maximum rate of release at source [kg/s]; T is the
Zone 2 An explosive atmosphere is not likely to occur in normal operation
ambient temperature in Kelvin.
but, if it does occur, will persist for a short period only As a matter of fact, there is no real correspondence between the
volume Vz and the effective explosive mixture volume in indoor
locations Rangel and Sanguedo (2011), Tchouvelev et al. (2005),
Gant and Ivings (2005), Rangel (2010) and Ivings et al. (2008). In
As regards ventilation, two aspects shall be considered: the de- indoor places the number of fresh air changes per unit time is given
gree of ventilation and its availability; the effectiveness of the ven- by:
tilation in controlling dispersion and persistence of the explosive
atmosphere depend upon these two parameters. Qa
C 3
Three degrees of ventilation are distinguished: Vo

high ventilation (HV) can reduce the concentration at the source where Vo is the volume of the room or building being considered
of release virtually instantaneously, resulting in a concentration and Qa is the total ow rate of fresh air in the room or building.
below the lower explosive limit. A zone of negligible extent may Eq. (2) can so be rewritten as:
result (depending on the availability of the ventilation); jQ a jmin
medium ventilation (MV) can control the concentration, result- Vz f  V0 4
ing in a stable zone boundary while the release is in progress
and in the elimination of the explosive atmosphere after the Vz, because of the above formulation, strictly depends on the vol-
release has stopped; ume V0, and does not match the real volume of explosive mixture.
low ventilation (LV) cannot control the concentration while Table 3 summarise the results of the test cases carried on by
release is in progress and/or cannot prevent the persistence of HSL (Gant and Ivings, 2005) using CFD simulations for methane,
an explosive atmosphere after release has stopped. propane and butane respectively. Values in the column marked
CFD are the volume of the cloud in which the average gas concen-
Three levels of availability of the ventilation are considered: tration was 50% LEL. These results can be compared to the range of
values calculated by the formulae given in EN 60079-10 (2003) for
good if ventilation is present virtually continuously; estimating the Vz volume (the range is due to the ventilation cor-
fair if ventilation is expected to be present during normal oper- rection factor varying from 1 to 5 to account for impeded air ow).
ation. Discontinuities are permitted provided they occur infre- A number of assumptions and approximations are made to cre-
quently and for short periods; ate the CFD model of the gas jet, such as turbulence modelling sim-
poor if ventilation does not meet the standards of fair or good, plications and discretization approximations. However, these
but discontinuities are not expected to occur for long periods. factors do not account for the two to three orders of magnitude dif-
ferences between the CFD and the EN 60079-10 formulae results.
3. The hypothetical volume Vz Fig. 1 shows an indoor jet ow of a ammable gas (methane)
computed by a CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) software (Flu-
The hypothetical volume Vz represents, according to Standard ent). Different colours indicate the concentration of methane in air.
IEC EN 60079-10-1, the volume over which the mean concentra- The parameter dz represents the distance from the source of release
tion of ammable gas or vapour will be either 0,25 or 0,5 times at which the concentration is reduced to the LEL.
the LEL (Lower Explosive Limit), depending on the value of the The distance dz (and the extension of the hazardous zone) de-
safety factor k; it is estimated through Eqs. (1) and (2): pends on:
jQ g jmax T
jQ a jmin  1 pressure inside the container;
k  LEL 293
cross section of the opening through which gas is released;
jQ a jmin molar mass of the released gas;
Vz f  2 ventilation (depending on mean concentration of ammable

Table 2
Inuence of ventilation and grade of release on type of zone.

Grade of Ventilation
release Degree
High Medium Low
Good Fair Poor Good Fair Poor Good, fair or poor
Continuous (Zone 0 NE) non-hazardousa (Zone 0 NE) Zone 2a (Zone 0 NE) Zone 1a Zone 0 Zone 0 + Zone 2 Zone 0 + Zone 1 Zone 0
Primary (Zone 1 NE) non-hazardousa (Zone 1 NE) Zone 2a (Zone 1 NE) Zone 2a Zone 1 Zone 1 + Zone 2 Zone 1 + Zone 2 Zone 1 or Zone 0c
Secondaryb (Zone 2 NE) Non-hazardousa (Zone 2 NE) non-hazardousa Zone 2 Zone 2 Zone 2 Zone 2 Zone 1 and even Zone 0c

Note 1 + signies surrounded by.

Zone 0 NE, 1 NE or 2 NE indicates a theoretical zone which would be of negligible extent under normal condition.
The zone 2 area created by a secondary grade of release may exceed that attributable to a primary or continuous grade of release; in this case, the greater distance should
be taken.
Will be zone 0 if the ventilation is so weak and the release is such that in practice an explosive gas atmosphere exists virtually continuously (i.e. approaching a no
ventilation condition).
R. Tommasini / Safety Science 58 (2013) 5358 55

Table 3
Results of CFD simulations compared with Vz according to EN 60079-10.

Case Leak conditions 50% LEL Vz volumes (m3)

Pressure (barg) Area (mm ) CFD EN 60079-10
1 (methane) 5.0 5.0 0.0936 12.361.7
2 (methane) 5.0 2.5 0.0326 6.1730.8
3 (methane) 5.0 0.25 0.0012 0.623.08
4 (methane) 2.5 5.0 0.0433 7.2236.1
5 (methane) 2.5 2.5 0.0148 3.6018.0
6 (methane) 2.5 0.25 0.0005 0.361.80
7 (methane) 0.5 5.0 0.0147 3.4617.3
8 (methane) 0.5 2.5 0.0054 1.738.63
9 (methane) 0.5 0.25 0.0002 0.170.86
1 (propane) 5.0 2.5 0.0579 6.8234.1
2 (propane) 5.0 0.25 0.0019 0.683.41
1 (butane) 2.0 2.5 0.0417 4.3221.6
2 (butane) 2.0 0.25 0.0014 0.4322.16 Fig. 2. Indoor release of gas or vapour.

Generally, depending on release rate and velocity, the two cou-

ples of zones (near/far eld and inside/outside the LEL boundary)
do not agree exactly, but, in a rst approximation, we can confuse
If the mean concentration of ammable gas Xm% in the far eld
is far enough from LEL (coefcient k/f in Fig. 31), the dangerous zone
is limited to the near eld. Otherwise the dangerous zone extends to
the whole indoor space. In the rst case the degree of ventilation is
to be assumed as MEDIUM, in the latter case the degree of ventila-
tion is LOW. Finally, if the explosive cloud volume has negligible
extension, the degree of ventilation can be considered HIGH.
The assessment of the degree of ventilation can be performed
following the ow chart represented in Fig. 3.
Negligible explosive volume means that the extent of potential
damage due to the sudden increase in temperature and/or pres-
sure, as a result of the ignition of an explosive atmosphere of such
Fig. 1. Release of gas or vapour in indoor situation.
a volume, is negligible.
It is evident that an explosion of the same volume of explosive
and, within certain limits, does not depend on the volume of the atmosphere may produce really different potential damages
room or building. depending on the situation; in particular at least the following as-
Finally, it seems more reasonable to dene the extension of the pects should be considered:
hazardous zones and the amount of the explosive mixture on the
basis of the distance dz rather than on the hypothetical volume open air or indoor location;
Vz as done by Standard IEC EN 60079-10-1. obstacles around the source of release;
zone type;
presence and number of people.
4. Assessment of the degree of ventilation
Finally, the determination of the negligible volume of an explo-
Fig. 2 shows an indoor release of gas or vapour (with ow rate sive atmosphere has to be the result of a risk assessment, consider-
Qg). The ow rate of fresh air (Qa) determines a degree of ventila- ing the parameters cited above.
tion almost medium. Standard IEC EN 60079-10-1 (annex B informative) indicates
The indoor space can be divided in two different zones: that the condition for negligible volume normally apply when Vz
is less than 0.1 m3.
The near eld, where the velocity of the released gas is still high In many cases (i.e. in indoor areas), the volume of 100 dm3
and so is the concentration of ammable gas in the mixture seems to be too big: the Guide of Good Practice for implementing
(X0%); of the European Parliament and Council Directive 1999/92/EC
The far eld, where the velocity of the released gas is low and (Bruxelles, 2003) indicates that, in indoor locations, a 10 dm3 vol-
the concentration of ammable gas in the mixture tends to ume of effective explosive mixture is to be in any case considered
reach the medium value: dangerous.
The new Italian Guide CEI 31-35 is the rst document to set dif-
Qg ferent values for different situations with regard to the problem of
X m% 100 5 the negligible explosive volume, as illustrated in Table 4. Different
Qg Qa
In the same scheme, the boundary of the area where the con- 1
The symbols in Fig. 3 have the following meaning: Xm% is the mean per cent
centration of the considered ammable substance is higher than concentration of the ammable substance in the total room volume (in open air Xm%
the LEL is also represented. The area inside the LEL boundary is, is zero by denition); LEL is the lower explosive limit; k is a safety coefcient set by
Standard IEC EN 60079-10, typically 0.25 for continuous and primary grades of
by denition, an hazardous zone; the external area may be consid- release and 0.5 for secondary grades of release; f is the efciency of the ventilation in
ered a non dangerous zone, if the gas concentration is enough low- terms of its effectiveness in diluting the explosive atmosphere, ranging from f = 1
er than LEL. (ideal situation) to f = 5 (impeded air ow).
56 R. Tommasini / Safety Science 58 (2013) 5358

Fig. 3. Flow chart for the degree of ventilation assessment.

Table 4
Negligible explosive volume according to CEI 31-35.

Zone type Explosive volume negligible up to (dm3)

Open air Indoor
Zone 0 1 1 1030
Zone 1 10 10
Zone 2 100ka 10
k is the same safety factor of Eq. (1).

volume values for different zone types are justied because to the
probability reduction of the explosive atmosphere existence can
correspond an increase in the potential damage to keep risk to a
constant value.
Volumes indicated in Table 3 refer to the effective amount of
explosive mixture (not to Vz). As previously explained, this effec- Fig. 4. Amount of explosive mixture produced by a free jet.

tive volume can be computed referring to the distance dz. For

example, the amount of explosive mixture produced by a free jet
can be approximately calculated as the volume of a cone having
height dz and vertex angle of 1030, as shown in Fig. 4.2
As a matter of fact the extent of the zones does not coincide
with the explosive volume for the following reasons:

the release direction is often unknown and so the hazardous

area is the envelope of many volumes, in every direction;
the volumes considered to determine the hazardous area are
increased by the safety factor k (i.e. the distance dz is calculated
at the kLEL boundary).
Fig. 5. Release from a damaged ange.
See for example Fig. 5 which shows the case of a ange release.

where Pr is the absolute pressure inside the vessel; Pa is the atmo-

5. Evaluation of the distance dz
spheric pressure; c is the specic heats ratio.For Pr values next to Pa,
the ow results from a subsonic release and it is basically an ex-
As it concerns high velocity gas releases (u0 P 10 m/s), the for-
panded jet. Otherwise when a high pressure gas discharges through
mula for the evaluation of the extent of hazardous areas round a
an orice into an ambient where pressure is much lower than the
vent, reported in the Italian Guide CEI 31-35, has been analytically
exit pressure, choked conditions occur at the outlet; in the chocked
found out by the author basing on the diffusion theory of a free tur-
regime, the gas velocity at the outlet is exactly the sonic velocity of
bulent round jet. When a uid is discharged into a quiescent atmo-
the gas and a so called underexpanded free jet expands to the
sphere through an orice, its behaviour depends on the upstream
ambient pressure through an interaction between expansion waves
pressure value, Pr respect to the downstream one, Pa. The Pr/Pa ratio
and compression waves, creating a cone-like structure, called dia-
is a function of the ratio, c, of the constant volume to the constant
mond structure, with oblique shocks and one or more normal
pressure specic heat; the release is sonic if Eq. (6) is respected:
shocks, known as Mach discs. Where the gas pressure becomes
Pr c1 equal to the ambient pressure, the gas behaves similarly to an ex-
6 panded subsonic jet.
Pa 2
In an expanded jet the concentration prole of gas, along the
As a safety factor, Guide CEI 31-35 assumes vertex angle of 45 for source with axis of the jet, is inversely proportional to the distance to the hole
absolute pressure >3 bar and 30 in the other cases. and it depends strongly on the ratio of the densities of the dis-
R. Tommasini / Safety Science 58 (2013) 5358 57

charged gas and the surrounding gas. In fact, because of the dilu- tration builds up, the distance travelled before dilution to a given
tion generated by the entrainment of ambient uid, the concentra- concentration increases. At this purpose a multiplying coefcient
tion of the gas diminishes with distance from the discharge kz has been introduced, as it is shown in the following equation:
location. Eq. (7) regarding the axial concentration decay of variable
density subsonic jets, has been suggested by Chen and Rodi (1978). dz
s kz 12
Cx d0 qa
k 7
C0 x qg 0
where dz is the extent of hazardous zone in enclosed areas where far
where Cx is the gas concentration along x axis; C0 is the concentra- eld concentration is different from zero; dz is the extent of hazard-
tion at the outlet; d0 is the jet discharge diameter; x is the distance ous zone in areas where far eld concentration is near to zero.
from the orice along x axis; qa is the density of the gas at ambient In order to evaluate dz , some simulations have been carried out
conditions; qg is the density of the ambient air. by using Phoenics, a computed uid-dynamic software based on
the nite difference method. The simulation model consists of an
Regarding the constant k, different values have been reported in
literature (Birch et al., 1987), (Rufn et al., 1996), (Houf and Sche- enclosed area [12  6  6 m3]. This area is provided with an arti-
cial ventilation system consisting in air ows into the room
fer, 2005), ranging from 3 to 6.
The ow rate of a chocked ow is a function of the upstream through six openings [0.5  0.5 m2] placed on the room ceiling
and four ventilation outlets [0.5  0.5 m2] placed at the oor level.
pressure. As for subsonic releases, the gas concentration prole
in the expanded region is inversely proportional to the distance Gas release has been simulated as a jet through a cross section
area, ranging from 9 to 50 mm2. The release speed is ranging from
to the hole along the axis of the jet. Besides, the behaviour of un-
der-expanded jets is similar to classical subsonic free jets provided 40 to 160 m/s. Three different sources of release have been chosen:
methane, propane and ammonia. For each of the three different
that an appropriate scaling factor is employed to describe the
effective size of the jet source. Thus, the axial concentration decay gases, simulations have been performed by xing the value of
the gas concentration, C, different from zero and lower than the
can be calculated using the formula for variable density subsonic
jets, where the discharge diameter is replaced by a diameter, called LEL in the far eld cells. The analysis of the resulting data has sug-
gested to use an exponential relation between kdz and C/LEL. Be-
effective diameter, which is representative of the jet diameter at
the start of the subsonic region. sides, it is evident that, for the same value of C/LEL, lower is the
molecular mass M of the substance, higher is kdz . Thus it has been
Various effective source diameter or pseudo-diameter ap- 0
proaches exist. Eq. (8) shows the one suggested by Birch (Birch supposed to use the relation among kdz , C/LEL and M that is shown
in the following equation:
et al., 1987). This equation is based on conservation of mass and
momentum through the free expansion region (region between k1 C
the jet outlet and the atmospheric cross-section); besides, this ap- kz eMLELv 13
proach assumes an isentropic expansion, it neglects the entrain-
ment of ambient uid and viscous forces over the free expansion where M is the molecular mass; C is the gas concentration in the far
surface and it treats gas as ideal. eld; LEL is the lower explosive limit; k1 is equal to 13 for hydrogen
v and is equal to 82 for other gases.
u 1
u Pr
2 c1 Finally, taking into account Eqs. (11) and (13) and references
u P c1
Deff d0 u  a   c  8
t c1 Abate et al., 1998, (Tommasini, 2000) and (Tommasini, 1998), it
1 1  PPar c1 2
=c is possible to evaluate the hazardous distance, both in open and
in enclosed areas, by means of:
where Deff is the effective diameter of the pseudo-source.
Therefore, for critical and supercritical ows, the axial concen- p kz
tration decay can be calculated using the following equation: dz 5:2  Pr  S   M0:4 14
s kdz  LELv
Cx Deff qa
k 9 0
where kdz has values calculated by Eq. (13); kdz is a safety coef-
C0 x qg
cient applied to the LEL for the calculation of dz; assumes values be-
where Deff is the effective diameter of the pseudo-source; k is the tween 0.25 and 0.5 for releases of continuous and rst grade and
multiplying coefcient, ranging from 3 to 6. values between 0.5 and 0.75 for second grade releases; Pr is the
Looking at Eqs. (7) and (9), it comes out that the extent of hazard- absolute pressure inside the vessel (Pa); S is the cross sectional area
ous zone, dz, can be expressed as it is shown in the following equation: of the outlet (m2); M is the molecular mass (kg/kmol); LEL is the
s Lower Explosive Limit (% vol).
D qa
dz k 10 Table 5 shows the extent of the explosive volume calculated as
LEL qg the volume of a cone having height dz in the same test cases of Ta-
ble 3. A vertex angle of 30 for pressure lower than 2.5 barg and 10
where dz is the extent of hazardous zone; D can be d0 or Deff,
for higher pressure has been considered.
depending on the Pr/Pa ratio; LEL is the Lower Explosive Limit.
Values in the column marked F14/CFD are the ratio between
Besides, by substituting d0 with the cross sectional area of the
the volumes computed with formula (14) and CFD simulations:
outlet, S, qg with the molecular mass of the gas, M, and by consid-
in most cases the volume computed with formula (14) not exceed
ering Deff/d0 as a function of (Pr/Pa)0.5 (those value is next to one
24 times the values of CFD simulations.
when ow is subsonic), Eq. (10) can be rewritten as:
r! Furthermore, an experimental verication of the formula has
1 Pr  S been recently published in the paper (Tommasini and Pons, 2012).
dz f  11 In the draft of the new edition (ed. 2) of IEC 60079-10-1 the cal-
culating method of Vz has been completely rewritten. The pre-
Eq. (11) can be used in open air evaluations. Instead, as it concerns sented method seems to be a good approximation of the effective
dz evaluation in enclosed areas, it has to be taken into account the extent of the hazardous zone and it can be an useful contribution
gas concentration in the far eld, because as the far eld concen- to the standardization works.
58 R. Tommasini / Safety Science 58 (2013) 5358

Table 5
Results of CFD simulations compared with explosive volume computed on the basis of formula (14).

Case Leak conditions pressure-area (barg) (mm2) 50% LEL Vz volumes (m3)
CFD Formula (14) F14/CFD
1 (methane) 5.05.0 0.0936 0.3449 3.7
2 (methane) 5.02.5 0.0326 0.1220 3.7
3 (methane) 5.00.25 0.0012 0.0039 3.2
4 (methane) 2.55.0 0.0433 0.1220 2.8
5 (methane) 2.52.5 0.0148 0.0431 2.9
6 (methane) 2.50.25 0.0005 0.0014 2.7
7 (methane) 0.55.0 0.0147 0.0357 2.4
8 (methane) 0.52.5 0.0054 0.0126 2.3
9 (methane) 0.50.25 0.0002 0.0004 2.0
1 (propane) 5.02.5 0.0579 0.3334 5.8
2 (propane) 5.00.25 0.0019 0.0105 5.6
1 (butane) 2.02.5 0.0417 0.1661 4.0
2 (butane) 2.00.25 0.0014 0.0053 3.8

6. Conclusion Comitato Elettrotecnico Italiano, Milan, 20072012. CEI 3135, 20072012.

Electrical apparatus for explosive atmospheres Guide for classication of
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