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Purdue: dust explosion incidents increased in 2022

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Inside Indiana Business) – An annual report issued by Purdue University’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering has identified an increase in nationwide grain dust bin explosions in 2022. The report found there to be nine incidents last year, compared to seven reported incidents in 2021 and a 10-year average of 7.8 explosions annually.

Kingsly Ambrose, Purdue professor of agricultural and biological engineering and the report’s author, said despite the increase in explosions and 18 total injuries this year, no fatalities were reported.

According to the report, the explosions occurred in one ethanol plant, two feed mills, two grain elevators, two rice mills and two grain processing plants. The likely ignition sources were identified as a fire in three cases, and one incidence as welding, while five cases were from unknown sources. Grain dust was identified as the fuel source in all nine of the explosions.

“Often, five of the conditions needed for a grain dust explosion to occur are present in most grain feed, milling and processing facilities,” Ambrose said. “These conditions include dust, dispersed dust, confined space and oxygen. The presence of the fifth factor, an ignition source such as overheated bearing or mechanical friction, could lead to an explosion.”

The dust explosions occurred in seven states, with two each in Arkansas and Louisiana, and one each in New Mexico, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas and Ohio.

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