The phrase “Intrinsically Safe” is often used generically to describe products destined for hazardous (explosive) areas. This paper explores the term “Intrinsically Safe”, provides an overview of what is required to certify a product and compares Intrinsic Safety against Explosion Protection concepts.
Intrinsic Safety – the basics The term “Intrinsically Safe” (I.S.) is frequently used to describe any product destined for an explosive area. In reality, I.S. is a protection concept based around limiting the available electrical energy to nonincendive levels so that sparks cannot occur from short circuit or failures which could cause an explosive atmosphere to ignite. A typical fixed I.S. circuit would comprise a device such as a temperature sensor permanently located within the explosive area, which is in turn protected by a safety barrier located in the safe area. These barriers usually incorporate a series of diodes, resistors and fuses arranged and sized in such a manner that they limit the energy provided to the device in the field. Interestingly, the inclusion of a barrier in the control loop does not allow any device to be connected downstream. Even though the power may be limited, the device located within the explosive area itself must also be designed to comply with the requirements of various regulatory standards depending upon the geographical locale of the plant.
Certification standards Across the world, there are differing regulations and requirements which dictate how products are designed, developed, certified and manufactured in order to be sold to a customer as I.S. certified. Some examples of I.S. standards are:
United States:- Factory Mutual - FM3610
Canada:- CSA C22.2 NO 157.92-CAN/CSA
Although each of these standards defines the requirements for a device to be certified as I.S., the requirements of each are different. These differences range from the effects of static build-up on non-metallic casings to the assessment of cells, even the test parameters themselves may be different. The bottom line is that it is not possible to claim a product certified as intrinsically safe in Europe to EN60079-XX (ATEX) can be deemed as intrinsically safe certified in the United States or Canada and vice versa. For each country, the device should be tested in accordance with the local requirements. Once tested and certified, products are marked as part of their manufacture.
Transcat.com (source of information).
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