Combustible Dust in the Food and Grain Industry

The National Grain and Feed Association reports that “grain dust is the main source of fuel for explosions in grain handling facilities.” This dust is highly combustible, and can cause fires and explosions if it accumulates on surfaces or in the air. Due to this risk, OSHA standards allow a maximum of no more than 1/8 inch of grain dust accumulation in priority housekeeping areas, which include enclosed areas containing grinding equipment or grain dryers as well as floor areas within 35 feet of inside bucket elevator legs.

Despite these standards, the grain industry continues to battle combustible dust events. According to OSHA reports, over the past 50 years, grain handling facilities in the U.S. have experienced over 500 explosions, injuring nearly 700 people and killing 180. In 2018 alone, there were 12 grain dust explosions.

Nationwide, food products made up 43% of the materials involved in combustible dust fires and explosions in 2018, according to the 2018 Combustible Dust Incident Report. Within the food industry, there were 21 combustible dust fires and nine explosions.

Such incidents can be caused by overheated motors, misaligned conveyor belts, or even a spark from a bucket elevator. With the significant amount of dust generated by loading and processing grains, it’s a challenge for facilities to keep up with proper housekeeping measures to avoid combustible dust events.

How SonicAire Can Help

What the food and grain industry needs is a proactive solution that prevents the accumulation of dust. SonicAire provides that solution. SonicAire’s precision industrial dust control fans are engineered to maintain clean food and grain facilities and mitigate the risk of combustible dust events.

The SonicAire Solution

SonicAire proprietary technology combines two methods to control dust flow.

High-Velocity Airflow

SonicAire fans use high-velocity airflow to clean overhead areas. The strength of this airflow effectively prevents the accumulation of combustible dust particles on overhead structures in the facility.

Thermal-Current Control

Typical airflow includes upward thermal currents which naturally lift and carry particles to overhead areas of facilities, where dust quickly accumulates and can become a fire hazard. SonicAire industrial dust control fans prevent these upward thermal currents from holding dust in the air.

Adjust the slider arrows in the middle of the Before/After photos to see the effect of using SonicAire dust control fans in your facility.

Food and Grain Industry Overview

Shaped by innovations in industrial processing, biotechnology and logistical advances, the food and grain industry is rapidly adjusting to market trends and consumer preferences. It remains a major contributor to the U.S. economy and global markets. In its May 30, 2019, Grain Market Report, the International Grains Council (IGC), forecast total U.S. grains production in 2019-20 at 426.2 million tons.

With this level of production, U.S. mills generate an incredible amount of food and grain for domestic and foreign markets. They also generate an incredible amount of dust.

These grains flow from 500,000 U.S. grain farms that generate a combined annual grain revenue of around $60 billion. Together, the agriculture, food and related industries contributed $1.053 trillion to the United States GDP in 2017.

The major grains in this industry include:

  • • Corn
  • • Sorghum
  • • Barley
  • • Oats
  • • Flour
  • • Cereals
  • • Fishmeal
  • • Spice

Additional sectors that make up the food and grain industry include:

  • • Agriculture – crops, livestock and seafood
  • • Food processing – fresh and prepared products
  • • Manufacturing – agrichemicals, seed, farming machinery

Learn More

Contact SonicAire to learn how we can conduct an engineering evaluation of your facility and use our BarrierAire™ technology to mitigate combustible dust, improve safety and reduce downtime/improve efficiency of your operation.

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SonicAire Fans at Work

The best practice for grain handlers is good housekeeping, and this is an ideal solution for all areas where dust management is needed. The fans can be installed throughout the facility to create an engineered solution that keeps grain settings clean and safe.
– Michael Beaver, Territory Manager and Grain Specialist, SonicAire
We installed SonicAire fans because we saw the need to prevent dust from accumulating in the first place…. Their clean fans use technology that makes an air barrier that keeps combustible dust from building up on overhead structures. They work.
– President, Pallet Company
Our board of directors and OSHA consultants were very impressed with how well the fans were operating in our facility..
– Process Development Engineer, Recycling Processing Facility
These things are amazing, at first, folks here didn’t like the idea – but now, everyone with our company who sees these things is asking if they can get them too.
– Sr. Plant Engineer, Pulp & Paper Company

Put SonicAire to Work for You

With an engineered layout custom-designed for your plant, SonicAire fans will replace high-risk and costly manual cleaning measures, eliminate the need for housekeeping shut-downs and help maintain a clean, safe environment. Use the Learn More form above, at right to request more information or visit our Dust Solutions page to learn more.