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ATEX and Explosive Atmospheres: How CinchSeal Can Prevent Explosions

ATEX and Explosive Atmospheres: How CinchSeal Can Prevent Explosions
7 May 2020  |
Mount Laurel, NJ - CinchSeal provides a seal that is safe to use in certain potentially explosive environments - those in dust environments, created in sugar, grain, starch, metal powder, flax, and barley dust applications. The ATEX certification provides a guarantee that certain stringent safety standards are met and that the component can be used safely in otherwise dangerous places.

While ATEX certification is specific to the European Union, it provides a powerful incentive for use around the globe. CinchSeal’s ATEX certification gives users peace of mind that the seal they are using offers the quality and reliability that keep people safe.

Background of ATEX Certification

ATEX Certification is a system by which a part or the component of a part is certified to withstand specific explosive environments. ATEX is used in the European Union and allows companies to certify entire pieces of equipment as able to work in potentially explosive atmospheres.

The acronym ATEX stands for atmosphères explosibles and provides a standardized system to certify equipment and systems for use in atmospheres that could be explosive due to gases, mists, vapor, as well as combustible dust. The ATEX certification process is not used in the United States where other systems such as OSHA are employed with Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs) to test and certify equipment for operation in hazardous environments.

When Did ATEX Certification Come About?

The current version of the ATEX certification came about with the ATEX Directive of 2016.

What Were the Needs for ATEX Certification?

ATEX Brush Seal

Simple substances, such as sugar, can create an explosive atmosphere by leading to an environment of dust that is too concentrated. There are many manufacturing and industrial settings that, for various reasons, have explosive atmospheres as part or all of their operations. They use equipment and systems that could act as a potential ignition source and cause an explosion under certain conditions. ATEX certification allows for each part of the equipment and for the entire piece of equipment to be certified as being able to properly function as necessary in a potential explosive atmosphere.

ATEX Objectives

The objectives of ATEX are having a standardized and reinforced safety system, including testing and labelling of equipment. It introduces minimum standards and its main objective is to increase overall safety standards for all EU institutions.

What Are the Different Conditions to which CinchSeal ATEX Certification Applies?

This environment can be classified as belonging to one of three zones that are broken down based on the amount of dust that is in the mixing process:

  • Zone 20: Where there is a high concentration of dust at all times.
  • Zone 21: When a combustible cloud of dust is likely to occur occasionally.
  • Zone 22: When combustible dust is not present frequently but can be there.

CinchSeal is ATEX certified for Zones 21 and 22.

Where is the ATEX Enforced?


It is important to remember that ATEX is a certification system that is specific to the European Union and is not employed within the United States. While there is a great deal of overlap, it is not recognized by OSHA as an acceptable standard for equipment being used in potentially explosive atmospheres. Nonetheless it can serve as an important guide regarding the equipment’s capabilities.

There are a couple of legal aspects that are important to keep in mind:

  1. ATEX cannot be used for anything official in the United States.
  2. For liability purposes it is important not to grant ATEX certification that extends beyond the equipment’s capabilities.

What is an Explosive Atmosphere?

An explosive atmosphere has the potential, should conditions be right, to create an explosion. An explosion can occur when there are three things met:

  1. Oxygen
  2. Fuel
  3. Ignition

When these conditions are met, the explosivity triangle is achieved. As oxygen is a common gas in the atmosphere and fuel sources can be dust particles or gases, the ignition source can be improperly tested or certified electrical equipment. We will be taking a look at how a seal can become an ignition source and how CinchSeal solves this problem for ATEX certification.

Where can Explosive Atmospheres be Found?

An explosive atmosphere can be found anywhere where there is fuel. In an environment where oxygen and fuel are present, removing the ignition source is the only way to avoid an explosion.

How does CinchSeal remove the ignition source? Any seal has the potential to become the ignition source.

  • During dynamic sealing, there is pressure and friction created at the seal shaft interface. This in turn creates heat, like the heat created when you slam on the brakes. Misuse of the seal can cause the seal to fail or create too much heat – and become an ignition source.
  • There is a chance of sparking during seal operation due to frictional rubbing of dissimilar materials, build-up, and discharge of the static electricity.

CinchSeal has received the ATEX certification as it has several safety measures in place to prevent this:

Atex Equipment Certification Mark
  • Static electricity/charge discharge – This problem is solved by grounding with carbon brushes. The static electricity, generated in the seal, is sent to the ground connection of the machine, through the carbon brush.
  • Control of seal overheating – There is a built-in temperature probe that the customer can connect to their control system or an alarm to go off when the temperature reaches 135° C.

CinchSeal: How Compliance with ATEX Helps Companies 

CinchSeal has a shaft sealing solution that prevents explosions and keeps people safe – by combining quality and reliable performance with the guarantee that the ATEX certification offers. 

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For over 25 years, CinchSeal has been a global leader in manufacturing innovative rotary shaft seals for mixers, screw conveyors, and bulk-handling equipment. Our self-adjusting seals provide a fast ROI, protect bearings and gearboxes, eliminate...

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