Case Study - Dangers of CO2 in Breweries
Sep 08 2020
In general, the most used gases in the brewing process are Carbon Dioxide (CO2), oxygen (O2), and nitrogen. As CO2 is a mild asphyxiate, it can be dangerous for personnel operating around the process machinery. The worst outcome from exposure to CO2 is suffocation. Breweries of all sizes need to be aware of the dangers of CO2 and have a fixed gas leak detection system installed.
How does CO2 provide a danger to people?
At ordinary levels, CO2 is one of the safest chemicals you’re likely to ever encounter. It is a normal component of air and so safe it is added to beverages to carbonate them. However, CO2 could have a detrimental health effect from exposure at high concentrations - a real possibility within the brewing process.
In breweries, CO2 is used in large volumes and can result in over-pressurisation within storage and process vessels posing the threat of rupture. In the event of a gas leak, personnel operating around the process machinery are faced with the real threat of CO2 poisoning.
The properties of CO2 are colourless, odourless, and tasteless making it difficult for a human being to sense it until overexposure. Even a low concentration of CO2 such as 0.5% (5000 ppm) may be sufficient to become unwell.
The first noticeable effects of inhaling CO2 at high concentrations will be dizziness, poor respiration and eye and throat irritation.
This could develop with severe headaches and could eventually cause you to black out. A CO2 rich environment of 5% provides an increased risk of asphyxiation and eventually suffocation.
Where does CO2 provide a danger?
Certain areas within the brewing process such as fermentation and storage have been identified as having (or potentially having) elevated levels of CO2.
To adhere to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002, the EH40 guideline presents the workplace exposure levels. It is the responsibility of the brewery to comply within these WEL limits of 5,000ppm & 15,000ppm to ensure the safety of personnel.
In general, there are two proven solutions for CO2 gas detection to create a safe work environment:
A fixed gas detection system consisting of CO2 and O2 transmitting head detectors connected to a control panel needs to be installed to provide visual/audible warnings, communication to extraction or ventilation systems, and integration to data acquisition and reporting software.
The use of a portable and personal CO2 gas detector. These should be worn by people when entering the room where CO2 could be present.
CO2 Gas Detection Systems from a1-cbiss
Due to the physical size and complexity of breweries, a1-cbiss always carry out a survey to fully determine how the process works, identify the location of gas hazards, where and how to initiate control measures, create an installation plan and to discuss project outcomes with the client.
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