An annual report issued by Purdue University’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering has identified an increase in national grain dust explosions reported at grain handling, feed manufacturing and biofuel facilities in 2018, although resulting injuries and fatalities were down from the previous year. Kingsly Ambrose, an associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering and the report’s lead author said many of the 2018 incidents could likely be tied to an increase in grain production and handling.
The report stated that there were 12 grain dust explosions in 2018 compared to seven the previous year and a ten-year average of 8.4 incidents annually.
One fatality and four injuries resulted from explosions in 2018, while five deaths and 12 injuries were reported in 2017. The events occurred at two feed mills, two ethanol plants and eight grain elevators. Grain dust was positively identified as the fuel source in three of the explosions.
"Grain dust acts as a fuel for these explosions, and all it takes is a small spark for ignition to occur," Ambrose said in a news release. "That’s why it’s critical to keep the facility clean, make sure employees and contract workers are properly trained, and ensure that equipment is properly maintained and in good working order."
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