ATEX: directives for explosion hazardous environments

18 August 2022

ATEX is an abbreviation for the European Union Directive on equipment and protective systems intended for use in environments with a high risk of explosion. It means that the area of the installation must be divided into zones according to the degree of explosion risk and the location of the various pieces of equipment and machinery. Find out more about ATEX!

What is ATEX?

ATEX was passed by the European Parliament and the Council on the 26th of February, 2014. This directive, 2014/34/EU, refers to how equipment can be placed according to explosion hazards. The legislation aimed to harmonise existing best practices in the EU.

Why is it necessary and how can an explosion occur on the premises of a plant? The explosion hazard is high when dust, gases, vapours, or general mist in the air mix in such a way that the equipment may ignite this mixture during operation. The risk of explosion can be increased anywhere, but there are sectors where particular care must be taken, such as mines, petrochemical plants, and mills.

That is why experts have developed a system to regulate machine types and locations in which they can operate. This legislation covers both the equipment itself and the protection system. It summarises the health and safety requirements and conformity assessment procedures that must be applied before these products and machines can be distributed in the European Union. The ATEX Directive applies within the EU borders and is implemented by dedicated national bodies.

For each plant, the risk of explosion must be assessed, and every precaution measure must be applied to ensure safety. This assessment can be carried out by a certified expert from the given company or by an external company. The results are set in a document summarising the types of equipment and their necessary protection level.

The choice of equipment should be considered based on location, and purpose. Whether gas or dust is circulating in the air is also relevant, as is the zone in which the machinery operates. To determine these factors, it is essential to draw up a zone map. Let's see how this is done!

The zone system

The markings of the zone system are as follows:

  • G: gas in the air,
  • D: dust in the air,
  • I: there is activity below the surface,
  • II: above-ground activity.

Based on these markings, the zone system is structured as follows:

  • Zone 0: an area where explosive substances are continuously present in the form of gas.
  • Zone 1: an area where combustible substances are occasionally present in the air in the form of gas, mist, or vapour.
  • Zone 2: an area in which explosive substances are present in the form of vapour, gas, or mist infrequently or for short periods.
  • Zone 20: an area where dust is present in the air for longer periods or continuously.
  • Zone 21: a part of the plant where an explosive hazard occurs occasionally due to dust.
  • Zone 22: an area of the plant where dust and air do not typically form an explosive mixture, but this cannot be completely excluded.

Consider a mixer, as an example. Theoretically, there is no dust at the inlet and outlet ends, but in the event of a malfunction, significant amounts of dust could be released into the air. Therefore, these areas are classified as Zone 22. Furthermore, the mixer itself has a continuous presence of dust and is therefore classified as Zone 20.

ATEX applies to all pieces of equipment operating in the zones. Those that are outside of the zones are not subject to the Directive unless they are in connection with a settlement that is within the zone. It is essential to note that ATEX applies not only to electrical equipment but to all equipment used within the zone. Documented protection must therefore be provided for pumps and fans too

Meet our company, where we manufacture only ATEX-certified equipment!

Makrofilt Szűréstechnikai Kft.
2200 Monor, Péteri út 014/19 hrsz.
(house no. 45)

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