Developing static-protective FIBCs

Developing static-protective FIBCs

A detailed investigation into the development of inherently safe, static-protective, FIBCs has been published on Written by Dr. Paul Holdstock (Technical Services director, Texene LLC, Summerville, SC, USA), the article notes that ever since FIBCs first became commonly used for storing and transporting powders and granular materials, static electricity has been a concern. Electrostatic charge is generated whenever materials contact, rub together and separate -- a process known as tribocharging. If one or both surfaces are electrically insulating, charge cannot dissipate and will remain on the insulating surfaces. In general, larger surface areas generate more charge. When one considers the large surface area of powders flowing over the surface of FIBCs, which are typically made from highly insulating polypropylene, it is clear that there is plenty of opportunity for tribocharging to occur.

Static electricity causes a range of different problems. Dirt and other contaminants are attracted to charged surfaces, which not only looks bad when it occurs on the outside of FIBC, but has health implications in food and pharmaceutical applications. Electrostatic attraction can also make it difficult to completely empty FIBCs of fine powders, which tend to adhere to the inside surfaces. The residue of high-value products left inside FIBCs can equate to a significant financial cost. Another problem occurs when charge on the FIBC tries to go to ground via a person. The resulting discharge will cause a shock to be felt. While such shocks are often uncomfortable and occasionally painful, they are not usually harmful in themselves. Nevertheless, shocks can be distracting, which in busy industrial environments can result in serious accidents.

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