Ventilation is an effective means to mitigate potentially hazardous atmospheres, enabling its use to lower the area electrical classification of pilot plants and laboratories.
Most codes allow ventilation as a means to lower an area electrical classification. This is a particularly important option for pilot plant and laboratory installations that need to be low cost and flexible and use a variety of instrumentation and analysis equipment. Avoiding classifying an area can save a research operation significant amounts of money and time. It also enables any necessary modifications — inherent to research programs — to be made more quickly, easily, and inexpensively. However, implementing ventilation as a viable mitigative measure requires an understanding of the relevant codes, as well as a good grasp of actual operating issues in a research environment. Ventilation without a careful analysis may fail to ensure safety in pilot plants and laboratories.
This article reviews the issues and concerns associated with using ventilation to lower area electrical classifications. The focus is on U.S. codes, but other codes have similar restrictions and concerns.
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