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Static Ignition Dangers of Ethanol in Distilleries

Static Ignition Dangers of Ethanol in Distilleries
9 Jun 2021  |
There are two major hazards in alcohol distilling; fire and explosion. The process of making hard alcohol, such as whiskey, bourbon and gin is fraught with danger, with the potential for fire occurring from the release of flammable compounds such as ethanol (alcohol).

These vapours can come from leaks in tanks, casks and equipment such as transfer pumps, pipes and flexible hoses.

Although this article focuses on distillery environments, the use of ethanol extends beyond the production of alcoholic beverages.  Ethanol is found in numerous consumer products; paints, varnishes, inks, and biofuels to name but a few.  It’ll come as no surprise that between 2000 and 2010, the number of ethanol manufacturing facilities in the US nearly quadrupled, with the coronavirus outbreak even seeing over 800 distilleries in the US alone producing hand sanitizer to aid the fight of COVID-19.

A vapour explosion can occur if enough vapours are released in an enclosed space with an ignition source, such as static electricity. The processes that go into producing bourbon whiskey appear simple, but they can produce an infinitely complex and subtle drink.

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