Detecting Ignition Sources – Pile Storage & Conveyors


If you are in an industry where your processes involve creating piles of organic combustible materials such as coal or wood chips there is a good chance you will have a fire related to spontaneous combustion. Materials, as they are stored in piles, bunkers or silos will naturally heat as oxygen and organics combine in an environment where heat cannot be dissipated. As moisture in the materials are consumed, the temperature rise will increase rapidly. The problem aggravates when the materials are disturbed through conveyance off the pile to transportation or another part of the process. When these hot spots are opened to sufficient oxygen, fire will be the result.

The question is, can you detect a condition where spontaneous hot spots could lead to a larger fire event? Yes you can! Here are a couple of solutions to investigate:

If you convey your materials from a pile via belt conveyors, Infrared Line Scanning is an ideal method of detecting a hot spot. To utilize this method, Scanner heads are placed above the belt at the point where materials have been placed on the belt from the pile or silo. These units scan the moving product hundreds of times per second looking for temperature abnormalities to alert your operators of a conditions requiring further action.

Another option for hot spot detection is utilizing fixed focus thermal imaging cameras with intelligent controllers to interpolate thermal images of the camera into actionable events. These units can be used not only on conveyor applications but can also scan pile storage for signs of growing hot zones in need of intervention.

If your product production processes are at risk from spontaneous combustion, please contact Ahern so one of our team members can help you with an assessment of the process, hazards and solutions.