Flash point testing is a method for finding out whether a given sample of air and vapour is flammable, or the temperature at which flammability occurs.
This testing method has applications across different sectors and activities, which include:
The flash point of a substance is the lowest point at which its vapours ignite from an ignition source.
Therefore, where an industry or sector uses flammable materials, it is important to test for flash point for safety reasons.
Flash point testing applies to a wide range of products, and different industries use it as a critical part of their processes.
There are occupational risks in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals from fire and explosions.
There are numerous ingredients that go into the formulation of drug solids that are combustible when in dust form.
10 people were killed in an explosion at a Chinese pharmaceutical plant in eastern Shandong province in April 2019.
Airborne plastic powder dust can be particularly hazardous. Combustion is a rapid event, where there are particles suspended in the air combined with various ignitable sources.
Flash point testing is an important preventative measure, as it provides vital data about these substances and therefore the risks they pose when in dust form.
It is important for food manufacturers to identify changes in process parameters, and to control the quality of processes, raw materials, intermediate ingredients and final products.
As with other industries, a key measure for the safe transportation of ingredients is their volatility.
There is also the issue of how certain ingredients will behave when combined with other, more volatile, ingredients.
Therefore, classifying of materials will influence their labelling, storage and shipping requirements.
Flash point testing enables food manufacturers to classify materials as flammable or combustible, supporting their accurate and safe classification.
Cosmetic products, fragrances and essential oils typically contain a variety of ingredients.
Some of these ingredients will be flammable or combustible. The manufacturer has the responsibility of measuring this volatility, and labelling products accordingly.
Perfumes, essential oils and scented cosmetics all require testing to determine their flash point.
Many speciality fragrances are produced in small volumes, using costly processes and materials. Therefore, flash point testing has a very high commercial value in these instances.
With flash point testing kits, manufacturers can carry out flash point testing onsite, saving themselves time and money.
In transport and logistics, there are mandatory shipping and safety regulations. Flash point can help firms define flammable and combustible materials, to then classify their hazard potential.
Flash point testing determines the classification under which you can safely transport products. This has significant cost implications for the transporting or storing of products.
Flash point enables various companies to complete data sheets accurately, which enables them to comply with the Globally Harmonised System (GHS).
Worldwide, there are different laws for identifying hazardous properties of chemicals. GHS is a means of providing a universal system for classifying chemicals and identifying where they are hazardous.
It is not a formal treaty, nor is it legally-binding. However, for the transport and logistics sector, correct labelling of flammable materials assists in their own safety procedures and eases the transportation of these materials across international borders.
Flash point testing provides the essential classification information for completing safety data sheets.
The petrochemical industry uses flash point testing to check for product contamination or adulteration. This is because multiple storage tanks may contain different products, which range in purity.
Many of these storage tanks use common pipeline systems. There should be thorough cleaning of these pipelines between batches of products because there is a risk of contamination if cleaning is not thorough enough.
Flash point testing can determine whether there has been product contamination. Changes in flash point will show where contamination has occurred or there has been adulteration of a product. One example is petroleum spirit in engine oil, this will lower the flash point of the engine oil.
Where there is contamination of fuel oil, lubrication oil and hydraulic oil by lighter hydrocarbons, this can lead to problems with how machinery operates. This can have an impact on various industries that depend on machinery, including shipping, construction, mining and at power plants.
For lubricants, flash point has always been a part of their specification. It is a screening tool, which determines whether lubricants pass or fail quality control.
Flash point is also useful for measuring fuel dilution. Most fuels have a low flash point, therefore a sudden drop in flash temperature is often an indicator of dilution.
Waste disposal plants must measure the flash point of waste liquids.
These liquids can include paints, oils and varnishes, but also a broad variety of different mixtures, which contain highly flammable components.
When waste is sent to these plants, it may not be cooled sufficiently to prevent its volatile and flammable elements from evaporating.
Consequently, flash point testing is vital to ensure the stability, and therefore safety, of these waste liquids.