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Chris Cloney

Chris is a PhD candidate at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. He uses computer modeling to study flame propagation in hybrid mixtures of combustible dust and flammable gas, and has a passion for science communication. This passion has driven him to create an online resource for dust explosion prevention, protection, and hazard awareness with the goal of decreasing the global impact of combustible dust hazards.

2017 Explosion Safety Days – A Post Event Analysis & Review

2017 Explosion Safety Days Hosted By Rembe

What is the “State of the Art” in spray dryer explosion protection?

That is the question that the 2017 Explosion Safety Days conference hosted by REMBE® aimed to answer.

With a wide cross-section of attendees from equipment manufacturers, safety specialists, end users, and researchers, partners and competitors alike came together to discuss the most recent challenges and share safety knowledge.

This post gives a summary of the conference focusing first on the overall event, hosts, attendees, and presentations, followed by a discussion of the key take-aways.


I attended the 2017 Explosion Safety Days conference from November 28 to 29, in Brilon, Germany. The event had over 120 participants from various industries and presentations focused on spray dryer explosion protection including regulations, past incidents, risk analysis, safety equipment, modeling, and upcoming research.

I was invited to speak about the incident research we are doing with and to interact with the community. In addition to some great presentations, the event gave everyone involved a chance to connect and exchange the most recent ideas with regards to spray dryer explosion safety.

The Hosts

REMBE® is a safety equipment manufacturer and consulting company providing explosion protection services and solutions across various industries. Based out of Brilon, Germany, they have main offices in Germany, Brazil, the USA, the UK, China, and elsewhere, and redistributors around the world.

I arrived to Brilon early Saturday and stopped by the REMBE offices to find them hard at work on a rush order replacement rupture disk. The customer’s explosion protection correctly deployed late Friday and REMBE’s rush order task force had the disk fabricated, shipped, and installed within 24 hours – over the weekend, none the less!

Explosion Relief Rupture Disk Rush Order
Manufacturing of explosion relief rupture disks at REMBE® production facility. From left to right: Me, Volker Henke – Team Leader Production Explosion Safety, Dr.-Ing. Johannes Lottermann – Director Explosion Safety

In addition to hosting a great technical conference, REMBE took excellent care of the attendees with a welcome reception at the near-by Celtic Corner pub (owned and operated by Johanne’s wife, Marianna), a moonlight cottage dinner and drinks during the event, and post event explosion demonstration at their new Research and Technology Center.

From interacting with the conference organizers and REMBE staff during the event, several things are clear: they truly stand by their mission “Safety is for life”, believe that product quality matters, understand how explosion prevention and protection can save lives, and operate their growing business as one big family.

The Location

The 2017 Explosion Safety days conference was hosted in Brilon, Germany. Brilon had a traditional German feel with many of the buildings dating back to the 16th and 15th centuries. There was also an abundance of Mercedes Benz cars, which I am told is more popular than BMW, Volkswagen, and Audi in this region!

Marketplace Brilon, Germany
Marketplace in central Brilon. Photo by Markus Schweiss (Wikipedia).

While attending the conference, I had the chance to visit a near-by particle board factory. On the tour we got to see how they are handling explosion protection of wood dust in their milling, drying, and processing operations. Explosion protection and prevention included outdoor venting, flameless venting inside, suppression and isolation devices, and routine maintenance and cleaning stoppages.

Flameless venting and explosion suppression on particleboard plant conveying system
Flameless venting and explosion suppression on particleboard plant conveying system and bucket elevators (click to enlarge).

The Attendees

The 2017 Explosion Safety Days event had over 120 attendees ranging from industrial end-users, equipment manufacturers, safety equipment providers, and safety specialists/experts. A small cross-section of the companies involved includes the following:

Industrial End-Users:

PM Group



Several providers of safety equipment and services also attended the event. Many of these also had individual presentations or held excellent discussions during question-and-answer periods.

Safety Equipment & Consulting:







Pulse Engineering


Overall this wide breadth of participants allowed both partnering and competing companies to connect in a neutral venue and share ideas on how to improve safety in spray drying applications.

Audience Selfie at 2017 Explosion Safety Days Conference
The obligatory conference selfie taken by Dr.-Ing. Johannes Lottermann showing the 2017 Explosion Safety Days Attendees

The Presentations

A full list of the conference presentations is given in this section. The presentations spanned several areas including equipment design, regulations, explosion incidents, and protection measures.

Registration (Day 1)

René Waalewijn (Danone Nutricia)

  “Lessons learned from the past”

Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Jörg Meistes (INBUREX Consulting)

  “Different countries, different standards?”

H.J.M. van der Sijp (Hak), BSc (HDI Global SE)

  “Requirements from insurance companies for spray dryers”

Prof. Dr. Ir. Filip Verplaetsen (Adinex N.V.)

  “Determination of dust explosion and characteristics according to the recent standards”

Dipl.-Ing. Richard Siwek (FireEx Consultant GmbH)

  “Risk assessment and zoning according to VDI 2263-7”


Prof. Rainer Barnekow (Hochschule Ostwestfalen Lippe)

  “Causes of the desired formation of deposits in spray drying chambers and their prevention”

Katharina Maiwald (Nestec Ltd, Nestlé Research)

  “Dust-air mixtures in non-conventional spray dryers in the context of explosion risk”

Pat Swords (PM Group)

  “Preventative explosion safety approaches for spray dryers”

Sieuwert Kramer (Hobré Instruments BV)

  “CO detection and H2O measurement – safety and efficiency at one glance”

Gerrit Fikse (Nestlé Nederland BV)

  “Differences between nutrition and dairy drying”

Dr. Kees van Wingerden (Gexcon AS)

  “CFD-Simulation of explosions in spray dryers – explosion design 4.0”

Lunch (Day 1)

Dr.-Ing. Johannes Lottermann (REMBE® GmbH Safety + Control)

  “Hygienic design vs. explosion safety”

Chris Cloney (

  “Dust safety on the web – the project”

Roel Hoek (Raca International BV)

  “Fire safety atomizing nozzle – increases safety within your spray dryer”

Mathias Fischer (Fagus-GreCon Greten GmbH & Co. KG)

  “Fire protection approaches in spray dryers”

Jonas Haake (Haake Technik GmbH)

  “How trapped-key interlocking systems contribute to fire and explosion safety”


Prof. Dr. Uli Barth (Universität Wuppertal), Marius Bloching, M.Sc. (IND EX® e. V.)

  “Small-scale fire tests on ignition of quasi-stationary dusts caused by glowing embers”

Dipl.-Ing. Richard Siwek (FireEx Consultant GmbH)

  “Explosion venting and suppression design approaches according to VDI 2263-7”

Jan Cleijne (REMBE® GmbH Safety + Control)

  “Apparent safety or overprotection”

Registration (Day 2)

Markus Lübbers (Lübbers Anlagen- und Umwelttechnik GmbH)

  “Advantages of explosion safety design approaches for OEM ́s in early stages”

Dipl. LM-Ing. ETH René Bosshard (Dedert International)

  “Preventative explosion safety approaches for multi-batch handling installations”

Kjeld Borchert (Sanovo Technology A/S)

  “Explosion safety approaches on box dryers”

Stefan Grund (BGN)

  “Explosion safety upgrades of existing plants – execution challenges as with regard to compliance and practicability”

2017 Explosion Safety Days: Six Key Take-Aways

Below are six key take-aways from the 2017 Explosion Safety Days conference. These were taken from the presentations, question-and-answer sessions, and open discussion during the event.

The Power of a Neutral Venue

One of the main benefits of this conference is that it provided a neutral venue where companies who may be competitors could connect, exchange ideas, and improve safety across the industry. Combined with having a very specific topic (spray dryer protection), this kept the discussion on focus and beneficial for everyone involved.

Internal Safety Standards are Needed

Many of the industrial end-users for spray dryer technology echoed the need for companies to generate their own internal safety standards with regards to explosion safety. Yes, understanding of the regulations is important; however, there is a need to tailor specific approaches to your facility and understand the internal tolerance and requirements for risk.

This topic was covered by several presenters including René Waalewijn who discussed how Danone went from having only an internal “Spray Dryer Standard” to creating a “Spray Dryer Safety Standard”, and Gerrit Fikse who discussed Nestlé’s approach and lessoned learned from their internal safety system.

Overprotection May Lead to Under Adoption

In many cases over-inflated protection costs may discourage facilities from implementing explosion protection at all. Richard Siwek of FireEx Consulting discussed minimum requirements for risk assessment, zoning, and venting guidelines according to VDI 2263-7, while Dr.-Ing. Johannes Lottermann and Jan Cleijne discussed REMBE’s approach to economical explosion protection.

Regulatory Landscape is Difficult to Navigate

Although several presenters discussed regulatory requirements, Jörg Meistes of INBUREX Consulting gave an excellent presentation entitled “Different countries, different standards?”. In this presentation Jörg cautions that in general a “Standard is the result of the research a few (usually local) people”, and that we should look to move towards a harmonized standard across boarders and countries.

Tips, Tricks, and Strategies

In addition to the high-level, key take-aways, several smaller tips were discussed during the event including:

  • Sprinkler inside vent ducts as well as outside to reduce equipment damage post-explosion (Thanks Dr. Chris Bloore!).
  • Safety systems must be automatic and non-overridable.
  • Remember that downtime from an incident measures in days, weeks, and years. This is small compared to the upfront cost.
  • Design strength and acceptable reduced pressures are hard to determine for older vessels. For pre-1960s it may be better to replace than to strengthen.
  • Housekeeping and cleaning schedules are an important component to the overall safety strategy.

Explosions are a Real Hazard (Live Demo)

After the event, REMBE hosted a live explosion demonstration at their newly built Research and Technology Center. The demonstration was performed by Dipl.-Ing. Roland Bunse and included a vented dust explosion in an isolated chamber, a vented explosion propagating through ductwork into a secondary chamber, and demonstration of a slam-shut and backflow explosion valve. A video of the explosion demonstration is being created now, but until then images can be found at the 2017 Explosion Safety Days summary page.


Overall the 2017 Explosion Safety Days conference was a very good event and chance for the spray drying community to connect. If you have any comments or questions leave them below or reach out to and I can put you through to the event organizers!

Did I miss you in the participant list? Just send me an email and I will update.